Peter Wright won his first World Matchplay title, beating defending champion Dimitri Van den Bergh 18-9 with a superb display of scoring and finishing to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy in Blackpool.
Snakebite, runner-up to Phil Taylor in The Power’s final Matchplay in 2017, continued his sensational week to average more than 100 for the fourth time in his five matches.
The 51-year-old – who nine days ago predicted he would win both the World Matchplay and the World Championship this year – fired ten maximum 180s and averaged more than 100 for the fourth time in the week as he punished early missed doubles from Van den Bergh to power his way to the £150,000 first prize.
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It was an agonising defeat for Van den Bergh who had hoped to become just the fourth player to defend the title but having won on his tournament debut behind closed doors last year, he couldn’t make it a dream Blackpool debut as well.
An emotional Wright dedicated the trophy and the title to his wife who has recently undergone back surgery and was by the side of the oche for the first time this week to see Wright add the prestigious Matchplay crown to his CV.
The Scot, world champion in 2019, joins an elite group to have won both of the sport’s most prestigious titles alongside Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Rob Cross.
“To beat last year’s Matchplay champion Dimitri – he is a very special friend. He’s just proved to the world how he can play.
“Obviously he missed a lot of doubles and let me in today, otherwise it was very difficult work to get this off of him.
“I already told you, do the double. Put a pound on it, for the World Championships!”
Peter Wright, 2021 World Matchplay champion
After a sweltering week on the Lancashire coast, the pair took to the stage as former housemates after Wright and his wife had taken in the Dreammaker for three months when coronavirus restrictions meant he could not get home.
However, it was Van den Bergh who was the more generous early on as a string of missed doubles set the tone for Wright to move into the ascendency – and it was a position he never relinquished.
The pair had been the best players all week, registering the four highest averages of the competition, but Wright – who had registered the top two – was near flawless. Having won an opening leg that featured two maximums, Wright then broke his younger opponent after Van den Bergh had missed four darts to get on the board.
It was a sign of things to come as another missed dart from the Belgian gave Snakebite a chance to pin double 16 for a three-leg lead.
Van den Bergh finally succeeded with his seventh dart at double to get on the board but he missed another three for a break back and the razor-sharp Wright was in no mood to repeat the hospitality he afforded Van den Bergh last spring, hitting tops for a 4-1 advantage
A classy two-dart 89 maintained Wright’s three-leg advantage and then he broke for a second time with a clinical 11-dart leg that featured a double 16 that landed in the same spot he had hit in the previous leg.
In contrast to Van den Bergh’s troubles, Wright was making no mistake, he claimed a third leg on the bounce to move into a 7-2 lead and then hit his eighth successful dart from 11 at the outer ring to lead 8-2 at the second break.
Van den Bergh is nothing if not a cool customer and the 27-year-old had recovered from 6-2 down in his semi-final against Krzysztof Ratajski to win 15 of the last 18 legs and was given a glimmer when Wright wobbled for the first time.
Snakebite missed five darts for a 9-2 lead – having only missed three in the match to that point – and Van den Bergh punished him to land his first break of throw which he consolidated to claim back-to-back legs for the first time.
Back came Wright again, pinning double 18 with the last dart in hand before a 10-dart break of throw took him into a 10-4 lead.
Peter Wright vs Dimitri Van den Bergh
Van den Bergh won legs either side of the third break as he sought to ignite a comeback, but Wright’s standard wasn’t dipping and just as his opponent’s average rose, so did Snakebite’s who touched 106 as the pair traded the next four legs.
Trailing 12-8, Van den Bergh pinned double 13 with his last dart in hand but a brilliant 11-dart leg gave Wright his 13th of the contest and when he followed up with a fifth break of throw he was four away from the finishing line.
Ever the showman, Van den Bergh refused to go quietly and twice he fired in six perfect darts to come close to the first nine-dart leg of the week, but still his doubling failed him as Wright claimed both legs for a 16-8 lead.
Bullseye on 84 left Wright within one, and Van den Bergh stirred one last time to take out the first three-figure contest of the match.
But his 105 check-out was in vain as Snakebite pinned double nine to land the title and make good on his promise to be crowned champion while finding time to share the moment with his wife watching on in tears in the crowd.
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