As ever the New Year brings a new PDC World Darts Championship winner being crowned with Michael van Gerwen taking on Peter Wright inside the Alexandra Palace on Wednesday evening for the Sid Waddell Trophy and a cool £500,000.
These two men are no strangers to meeting in big finals and indeed they did just that here on this very stage in 2014. Van Gerwen will go in search of an impressive fourth world title here while Wright is eyeing up his first, on what could be a career defining night for the Scot.
Michael van Gerwen
I think it is fair to say that we have not seen the best of the defending champion Michael van Gerwen in this tournament. That isn’t quite the negative it sounds like though because it is so hard to defend this title and play well because for the first three or four rounds you rarely feel in the competition, such is the gap between matches. He doesn’t have that excuse now though and one would expect his best display of the event here.
The other reason why van Gerwen hasn’t perhaps been at his best is the fact that he hasn’t needed to be because he has largely had a comfortable draw. The only top 16 player he has faced in the event to date was Nathan Aspinall in the semi-final and even he wilted in key moments against him. If there is one thing we have learnt about the Dutchman in the last six or seven years, it is that he is a big match player so don’t be surprised if his best comes here.
This is the second world final that Peter Wright has made it into. He lost his first one 7-4 and when you consider that the only TV title he has won in his career was a UK Open that was behind closed doors, you would have to consider the Scot a massive underachiever in the game, given the undoubted quality that he has to his name. All that gets forgotten though if he comes out on top in this particular final it must be said.
Wright has ridden his luck in this tournament. He was darts away from disappearing in his first match against Noel Malicdem and then had to struggle past Seigo Asada after that but since then he has thrown some proper darts. His 4-3 win over Jeffrey de Zwaan was near perfection for three sets and then in the quarter final and semi-final he saw off two form opponents in Luke Humphries and Gerwyn Price in ruthless fashion. He needs to remain ruthless in this final if he is to come out on top in it.
Head to Head
These two men have played each other a whopping 78 times in their careers. It almost needs no saying that van Gerwen has a huge advantage in those past battles, winning 59 of them to the 17 that Wright has come out on top in. There have also been a couple of Premier League draws mixed in their too. Although the overall record favours MVG, Wright has won two of the last five and only gone down in deciding legs in two of the three he has lost so there does appear to be a closing of the gap in recent times.
They have met in 18 previous finals throughout the test of time and this is where the van Gerwen dominance really features. He has won 16 of them to just the two of Wright, with Wright famously missing match darts at doubles in a number of them. Although the recent form suggests he is getting closer to the Dutchman, Wright will have to wrestle any mental demons those losses have created if he is to win here.
I’m going to attack this final with three bets with the first of them coming in the handicap where Peter Wright gets a 2.5 set start and that just looks too much to me. As I eluded to above he has either beaten van Gerwen or run him close recently and all the numbers in the tournament so far highlight Wright as the better player. I actually think Wright wins this match but this handicap offers the sort of price and indeed line that allows us to back it and not pay the price if the Scot misses match doubles again. I would be very surprised if what we have seen this week Wright doesn’t get to five sets.
I’ve backed the 180s involving Peter Wright a couple of times in this tournament and that isn’t a bet I’m going to neglect for this final. I took over 11.5 for him in the semi-final and he ended up hitting 16 of them in nine sets. Before that he hit a dozen in six sets and a dozen more in eight sets so he is scoring like a dream. You’ve got to think this final will have at least 11 sets in it if not more so on the ratio he has been scoring at recently he should smash a 13.5 180 line out of the water. I’ve never seen Wright score this well so whoever wins this final I would be surprised if Wright doesn’t have 14 or more 180s next to his name come the end.
Finally I’ll have a punt on the highest checkout to be more than 148.5pts. That feels low for these two men over what should be somewhere in the 55-60 leg region in this final. We know van Gerwen goes out of his way to leave 170 as often as possible and Wright has also reeled in the big fish in this tournament too. Wright is no stranger to a two treble and a double combination finish while van Gerwen regularly takes out the big shots. Anything under 150.5 is a risk from the bookmakers so I’ll take over 148.5 to be the highest checkout here.
WON – Back P.Wright (+2.5 sets) to beat M.van Gerwen for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill
Back him here:
Back P.Wright – Over 13.5 180s for a 5/10 stake at 1.75 with BetVictor
Back Highest Checkout – Over 148.5pts for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Betfair
Back it here: