If you want to know how the interest in darts in Germany is, you will get the answer in Berlin. Once a year, the best players in the world come together in the capital. The Premier League of Darts, a kind of traveling circus through 17 European cities, has a fixed matchday in Germany.
With Martin Schindler and Max Hopp, local players were only there as interview partners during the break and as TV experts on the microphone, but more than 10,000 fans came to the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Thursday to watch the top stars throw arrows. Fans from Stuttgart, Hamburg, Cologne and Bielefeld, Hanover and Munich, who experienced a charm offensive from two of their greatest idols: Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright, number four and number two in the world rankings, presented themselves in their opening duel with white jerseys in Germany colors.
For Wright, world champion of 2022, it should once again be the only appearance of the evening. After a 3:1 lead, "Snakebite" lost five legs in a row and after the ninth day of play is at the bottom of the table. The 53-year-old only won one match in the entire series.
Wright is in the biggest crisis of form in recent years, caused by health problems in his private life and physical limitations. "Age is noticeable," Wright said in an interview with "WELT". The back hurts, the shoulder is causing problems.
However, he does not waste any thoughts on a longer break. Instead, he changed his litter. At the tournament in Leverkusen last weekend he played from a different position for the first time. "I no longer put my foot across the oche, but stand in front of it," he says. The changed angle is intended to relieve the shoulder and back.
However, this affects other learned routines. "I'll have to keep trying and get used to it. The foot position increases the distance. I've also dropped my darts from 24 grams to 22 grams, now I throw lighter darts so they don't sink too early," says inventor Wright, who sums up the problem in one sentence: "I have to relearn the game."
The sporting exclamation marks in Berlin were again set by others. First and foremost Michael Smith, who threw eight perfect darts in a high-class semi-final against Nathan Aspinall and checked one shot later to a ten-darter. Surprisingly, however, Jonny Clayton won the match day and thus the bonus prize money of £10,000. The Welshman prevailed against Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price and won the final against world champion Michael Smith 6:4.
Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL) – Michael Smith (ENG) 3:6
Chris Dobey (ENG) – Nathan Aspinall (ENG) 4:6
Michael van Gerwen (NED) – Jonny Clayton (WAL) 5:6
Gerwyn Price (WAL) – Peter Wright (SCO) 6:3
Michael Smith (ENG) – Nathan Aspinall (ENG) 6:4
Jonny Clayton (WAL) – Gerwyn Price (WAL) 6:4
Michael Smith (ENG) – Jonny Clayton (WAL)
Table after 9 of 16 match days:
1. Michael van Gerwen 25 Punkte
2. Gerwyn Price 20
3. Michael Smith 15
4. Nathan Aspinall 15
5. Jonny Clayton 12
6. Chris Dobey 10
7. Dimitri van den Bergh 9
8. Peter Wright 2
The top 4 qualify for the final play-offs.