Gerwyn Price set up a tantalising clash with Michael Van Gerwen in Sunday’s World Matchplay final, hitting a perfect leg in his 17-11 victory over Danny Noppert at the Winter Gardens.
Van Gerwen cam from 4-1 and 12-9 down to beat Dimitri Van Den Bergh 17-14 to move within one match of a third title but the newly anointed world number one stands in his way.
Price and Noppert exchanged breaks in the third and fourth legs, each gifted a chance by the other with a two-dart miss, and it was not until the eighth leg that Price opened up a two-leg advantage for the first time before winning the ninth with a 107 out shot.
Noppert pulled back to 7-5 with a 12-dart finish but then it was the Welshman’s turn to shine, the crowd already on its feet before Price completed the perfect leg, hitting treble 19, treble 20 and double 12 as the room erupted into pandemonium.
Price followed up his fourth televised nine-darter of the year with two 180s in the next leg before extending his advantage to 10-5.
Noppert did not let the gap sway him, winning three legs on the bounce, but Price piled on the pressure and the Dutchman found himself frustrated after missing four darts to hand his opponent the break and a 12-8 lead.
The Dutchman rallied with checkouts of 117 and 120 made it 15-11 but Price was determined to get himself over the line, hitting the last of his 13 maximums to draw within touching distance and sealing the deal on double 12 to advance, becoming the first Welshman to make the final since Richie Burnett in 2001.
“I’m over the moon,” he said after averaging 102.37 in his win. “The last three games, step-by-step I’m getting better.
“One hundred per cent, I deserve to be (the favourite), I’m back to world number one and if I lift this trophy I think I thoroughly deserve it.
“I think I probably played some of the best darts in this tournament, and hopefully I can just continue that in the final.
“If I lose then what I’ve come for, I failed. I’m here to win the trophy, I’m here to take it back to Wales.”
Van den Bergh was eager to punch a return ticket after falling short in last year’s final to Scotland’s Peter Wright.
The Belgian set down an early marker with a maximum in the first leg and cruised to an early 4-1 lead, breaking Van Gerwen’s throw after the Dutchman faltered trying to find 30 in the fourth.
Van Den Bergh was up 6-4 and though ‘Mighty Mike’ claimed back-to-back legs to draw level, Van den Bergh cleaned up 64 in two darts to pull ahead once again.
The cagey contest saw both men exchange misses in the 18th, Van Gerwen able to prevent the damage and win the leg after his rival failed to earn the break with a miss on double 10.
The Belgian went on a three-leg run, making it 12-9 with a 114 checkout, but Van Gerwen hit tops to draw level at 14-14 and took advantage of Van Den Bergh’s misfire to break his throw in the next leg.
And with momentum on his side the Dutchman claimed back-to-back legs, finishing on double 10 to complete the comeback and set up a meeting with ‘The Iceman’.