Gerwyn Price will warm up for the World Cup of Darts in November – where he will carry Welsh hopes alongside Johnny Clayton – by competing in the European Championships which start in Germany on Thursday. Not only has Price become the form player in the world right now, but James Dodd argues the Welshman will soon overtake Michael van Gerwen as the official world number one, too.
Earlier this month, Gerwyn Price, the one-man darts winning machine from Markham, won his fourth major televised event – the World Grand Prix – after winning the 2018 and 2019 Grand Slam of Darts as well as the World Series of Darts Finals last month.
He has now won four of the major titles in the sport inside the past two years.
Picking up more silverware in Coventry wouldn’t have been a big surprise to anyone, with the former rugby player finishing first in the Autumn Series Order of Merit, which was helped by back-to-back wins on day four and five, again last September.
So, why has Price had such an impressive rise in the last 12 to 18 months?
Overcoming the Dutch master
Since beating Dutchman Michael van Gerwyn in the semi-final of the Grand Slam of Darts last November for the first time, there is no question that Price’s confidence and belief has risen.
Earning that win over the long-time world number one at the 20th attempt would have told Price that he can beat anyone in any tournament.
When you realise that prior to the victory, the last five matches between the pair all went to a last leg, the fact that Price had only mustered up one draw really showed the psychological strength he had needed to gain to finally get over the line.
Price has been victorious again twice against van Gerwen since then. But more significantly, the triumph meant he had won against every player in the top 10 in the PDC Order of Merit.
There was now a clear argument as to why Price was the best player in the world. And Price knew it.
At present the rankings show van Gerwen has a clear lead in prize money over the past two years – £1.4m compared to £900,00 – but the tide is turning.
Crowd or no crowd
Initially, there was clear evidence that Price hated playing without a crowd in these still strange virus-regulated days.
He made it very clear that he missed the fans and the atmosphere they create.
When the former Cross Keys rugby player took part in the PDC Home Tour, he had little success and got knocked out in the group stage each time.
Similarly, the five days in the Summer Series were mainly disappointing.
However, it is evident that he seems to be getting used to the changing environment. By winning tournaments like the Grand Prix without thousands of happy fans cheering, it really shows that Price is a man who can adapt to change and still play top darts.
With so much uncertainty coming up as well, it is a good job that The Iceman has found a way to cope, as this fan-free environment could be the norm still in 12 months’ time.
Dealing with this evolving situation could easily lead to more trophies in the coming months that might otherwise have gone astray.
Presence on stage
Another big positive for Price is the personal presence he now has whilst throwing darts.
With his brilliant 180 scores and key doubles in key legs, there is no reason for Price not to celebrate loudly.
However many players, pundits and fans think he overdoes it, there is no doubt he has developed an aura that intimidates opponents
This is something that Price does not seem to care about one bit, and can you really blame him?
Whilst it may make other players feel uncomfortable when playing him – Danny Noppert was one example and before him Gary Anderson in that controversial final in the Grand Slam of Darts – Price is playing how he wants to. And it’s working.
He may not be the most popular darts player out there, but he certainly has the backing of his close family and friends, as well as a large supportive fan base in Wales.
Now, he has two big events where he can further underline his threat to van Gerwen’s number one status.
Wow what a week thank you all so much for your messages, so happy to win another title and to see my girls on the screen with me ❤️ thank you @OfficialPDC for that @reddragondarts @TuffStuff_UK @VansdirectUK @valleywaterserv “credit Lawrence Lustig” pic.twitter.com/VdDVOayzcO
— Gerwyn Price (@Gezzyprice) October 13, 2020
They could well meet in the semi-final of the European Championships in Germany this week, where last year’s runner-up Price is seeded No.2 and van Gerwen is No.5.
Then, there is the World Cup of Darts on November 6-8 in Austria, when Price will join forces with Johnny Clayton to represent Wales as number two seeds.
It’s a tournament where Price reached the final with Mark Webster in 2017 and to go one better – with maybe a victory over the Netherlands and van Gerwen in the final – would be further confirmation that Wales has a true world-beater in the sport.