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Peter Wright has Premier League Darts chance to overcome also-ran reputation

Holly Thackeray | March 8, 2016

Wright destined to be known as Darts’ nearly man?

It was a case of darting deja-vu for Peter Wright on Sunday night, as he stood aside to once again see dominant Dutchman Michael van Gerwen lift the Coral UK Open crown, in a painful repeat of last year’s final result.

There was but a one set difference on the Somerset stage, as Snakebite folded 11-4 this time instead of 11-5, firmly in the shade of Mighty Mike’s momentum.

The scoreline for a finale that never looked as though it could shock, despite the tournament’s reputation for surprises, hints that little has changed for the Scotsman since his last campaign.

Still to lift a major televised trophy, showman Wright’s quest for a PDC premier event appears to have become his white whale. The tungsten talent is clearly there, but glory continues to evade him.

Darting differences

While, Sunday evening’s most tantalising moment, in which Wright came agonisingly within inches of a nine-darter, missing double 12 to squander a perfect leg, seemed to aptly sum-up the Scot’s current career situation; so close but yet so far.

By comparison, Van Gerwen was uncompromising across the competition, and crucially came up trumps when it counted.

Recapping his ruthless route to the trophy, the world number one told press: “I played really well and I’m really pleased to win another trophy. I had four 170 finishes, a nine-darter and won the tournament so it’s fantastic.”

“I’m working really hard and I’m glad it’s paying off at the moment. I love this game and I love winning, this is a wonderful feeling.”

Rampant winning Green Machine MvG had a turning point in his own career, back in 2012, when the Dutch juggernaut halted Mervyn King in the Grand Prix to poach his first PDC premier title.

It would lead to many more, but Snakebite is still searching for that fork in the road, the fine margin that will finally transform the 45-year-old from regular runner-up and also-ran into a formidable force.

Though, arguably, the longer these close misses continue, the harder it will be mentally for the dancing dartsman to achieve his oche potential.

“Sooner or later he is going to win a tournament”

Of course, Wright hardly went home from Minehead empty-handed, with his Butlins bag of loot containing a second spot cheque for £30k, while his UK Open run also boosted the star back up the rankings to fifth in the Order of Merit.

Somerset was not too shabby for the Scotsman then, but, in context it must be a frustrating bigger picture.

Since last losing to Van Gerwen in the 2015 UK Open, Wright has been defeated in six semi-final dust-ups with the deadly Dutchman, with two of those tussles in majors. While, he also fell to the same opponent in a recent World Series of Darts final and Premier League meeting.

2015 William Hill PDC World Championship - Day One - Alexandra Palace

It appears, Snakebite, who has an eight to 32 losing record against Mighty Mike, will have to get past his fiercest foe if he is ever to cross the finish line.

Trophy-laden MvG himself spoke of Wright’s woe, stating: “Peter is growing into one of the best players there is and he’s getting better and better – but I’m glad I beat him today.

“I did the right thing at the right moment and he’s a fantastic player, and sooner or later he is going to win a tournament.” Ouch, talk about backhanded complement.

Premier League battleground

Of course, that is easy for the decorated Dutchman to say, as it was Van Gerwen who again took his first World Championship title at the expense of Wright back in 2014; another result that sent the two stars down different paths.

“He’s the best player on the planet,” said Wright of MvG and his most recent defeat on the Butlins oche.

“I’m disappointed that I didn’t give him more of a game but I will work harder to try and get to Michael’s level. He’s a machine at the moment,” continued the toiling Scot.

“It is coming for me – I learn every time I lose against these guys and it might take a little time but I will get there.”

Punters can back Snakebite’s optimism to pay off next in the Premier League, where he currently sits third in the table, one point from the summit after just one defeat to… you guessed it, Van Gerwen.

Peter Wright gestures to the crowd after walking onto the stage before the start of his match against Dave Chisnall during day twelve of the William Hill PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace, London.

Wright has been far from his best so far, scraping past Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 in a match his opponent should have put to bed, and picking a point from Robert Thornton on home turf in Aberdeen.

This may all sound far from flattering but, is it winners form to be surging up the table while still far from first gear? Odds of 14/1 with Coral for the Premier League to be Wright’s first major televised coup say so.

There are three daunting matches to come soon in quick succession, which could be an early turning point in where the Premier League title finishes up, or at least in deciding who reaches the play-off week to contest a spot for Finals Night.

On Night Seven, back on Scottish soil in Glasgow, it a clash between compatriots, as Wright wrestles with PDC world champion Gary Anderson, who crucially plays in two tough tussles that evening after missing his opening match with illness.

While, Night Eight sees Snakebite pitted against current second spot Phil Taylor, with fellow first major chasing rival Dave Chisnall awaiting on the following Judgement Night.

Surely, Van Gerwen will again stand in his way before the end but, if Wright can overcome these obstacles, 2016 could be the year it all changes.

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