By Lee Clarke
Welshman Gerwyn Price takes on Gary Anderson of Scotland tonight with the PDC Darts World Championship and a cool £500,000 up for grabs.
The charismatic 35-year-old set up a place in the showpiece finale with a 6-4 win over Stephen Bunting, who had twice led 3-1 and 4-3.
Anderson won his place in the final with a comfortable 6-3 victory over Dave Chisnall – the conqueror of Michael van Gerwen just 24 hours previous.
Price has won plenty of admirers, particularly from darts purists in recent months. The constant displays of fist pumping and chest beating have been replaced by some serious tungsten talent.
The man who reached the semi-finals last year at the world champions still cuts a passionate figure on the stage these days but as one of the game’s elite players it is far more fathomable.
Interestingly it was perhaps his famous spat with Anderson on the stage in the 2018 Grand Slam Final that set Price on this journey to stardom.
Price defeated the twice World Champion 16-13 but was fined £20,000 for his behaviour during an ill-tempered affair.
His punishment was eventually halved but since then the former rugby professional has curbed his enthusiasm somewhat.
That incident seems to have clicked Price into gear and placed him on the pathway towards arguably his greatest achievement to date.
He retained his Grand Slam title in 2019 before lifting the World Grand Prix crown in 2020. Price also tasted success at the World Series Finals in Austria.
Along with Jonny Clayton he helped Wales lift the World Cup in 2020 and enjoyed a stunning year.
Should he win tonight, he will not only become a World Champion but he will topple Van Gerwen at the top of the world rankings and became the best player in world darts.
It is seven years this month since Price, advised by Welsh darting legend Barrie Bates, attended Q-School.
He claimed a tour card by winning the second event, pipping Austria’s Rowby-John Rodriguez 5-3 in the Final.
His meteoric rise through the rankings won’t have pleased the supporters who simply love to boo him at events.
Gerwyn Price isn’t bothered one bit though and if anything, the barrage of criticism he receives on a regular basis has spurred him on to claim several top titles.
Lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy would eclipse anything he has done so far in his career, however, and few could deny that his form over the last year or so would make him a deserved winner.
If there’s one man in world darts who will be desperate to stop him though, it’s Anderson.
A 40/1 outsider going into the tournament, he had been written off based on a season of struggle with a back injury and some sporadic form.
As a two-time world champion and a consummate professional, however, it’s staggering that his odds to lift the title were so high.
He reached the final of the World Matchplay this season, losing 18-10 to Dimitri Van Den Bergh back in July.
Despite that he wasn’t considered a real contender for the Ally Pally crown this time around.
He chose not to play in some events this year and after admitting he intends to give 2021 a real go, that might change over the next 12 months.
Anderson won’t admit it in such sinister fashion but he would undoubtedly take great pleasure in robbing Price of a maiden world title and the chance to become the number one player in darts.
Expect fireworks when the Iceman and the Flying Scotsman take to the stage this evening.
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