World Matchplay darts in Blackpool: Champion defeated on a dramatic night

Dimitri Van den Bergh dethroned reigning champion Peter Wright to set up a Betfred World Matchplay semi-final showdown against Michael van Gerwen at the Winter Gardens.

By Josh Gorton
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 8:21 am

Van den Bergh defeated Wright 16-14 to reach the last four for a third straight year, avenging his defeat against the Scot in last year’s final.

Van Gerwen then defied a stirring fightback from Nathan Aspinall to prevail by the same scoreline, producing a magnificent 146 finish to triumph in a thrilling finale.

In the evening’s opener, Van den Bergh defied four ton-plus finishes from Wright to win an incredible contest, averaging 102 and landing 11 maximums.

Dimitri Van den Bergh defeated reigning champion Peter Wright Picture: Taylor Lanning/PDC

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Wright ran riot in the early exchanges to lead 4-1, despite a 104 average from the Belgian, and then reeled off a fifth consecutive leg with a 14-darter.

That was the signal for Van den Bergh to launch an astonishing fightback, winning 10 legs without reply.

Wright changed his darts on multiple occasions midway through the contest, but Van den Bergh was undeterred, maintaining his barrage of big scoring.

Michael van Gerwen survived a thriller against Nathan Aspinall

The world number one stopped the rot with a spectacular 140 checkout, and the pendulum appeared to be shifting once more when Van den Bergh squandered three darts for a 13-8 cushion.

Wright capitalised to claim a crucial break of throw, before following up legs of 12 and 14 darts with a 104 checkout to restore parity at 12-12.

He looked set to complete the comeback after converting a two-dart 89 to regain the initiative, but there was yet another twist in a dramatic 26th leg.

The pair traded maximums before Wright missed two darts at double for a 14-12 lead, and Van den Bergh capitalised, producing successive legs of 11 and 12 darts to edge back ahead.

The 2020 champion came agonisingly close to a spectacular 164 finish moments later but regained his poise, moving one leg away with a 13-darter, before crashing in a brilliant 177 and pinning double 16 to close out a classic.

In Thursday’s second quarter-final, van Gerwen overcame a typically tenacious Aspinall, who recovered from 11-4 down to threaten a famous comeback.

Van Gerwen underlined his title credentials with a classy display, averaging 101.86 and rattling in 12 maximums.

Following seven consecutive holds to kick off the contest, the Dutchman followed up a break of throw in leg eight with a ruthless three-leg spell to storm into an 8-3 lead.

Aspinall halted van Gerwen’s charge in leg 12, only for the 33-year-old to respond with back-to-back 12-darters in leading 11-4.

The Englishman rallied, reducing the arrears with a sequence of three straight legs before following up a 112 finish with a 164 on the bull to trail 14-10.

His hopes appeared to be fading when he spurned two darts at double six and van Gerwen took out 68 to move 15-10 clear.

Aspinall refused to relent, landing a second 106 finish and a 90 before surviving three match darts in a dramatic 29th leg.

Van Gerwen wasn’t to be denied, producing a 146 checkout on double 13 to preserve his hopes of a third title.

Saturday’s semi-final line-up will be completed tonight, as the remaining two quarter-final tussles take place.

Danny Noppert kicks off proceedings against Dirk van Duijvenbode before Gerwyn Price plays Jose De Sousa.