MICHAEL VAN GERWEN and Peter Wright will contest the 2018 Unibet World Grand Prix final after winning their semi-final ties on a dramatic night at the Citywest Convention Centre in Dublin.
Wright produced one of the most incredible comebacks ever seen at the tournament to edge past Mensur Suljovic 4-3, while three-time winner Van Gerwen recorded a comprehensive 4-1 victory over reigning champion Daryl Gurney.
The seventh and final night of the double-start event will see world number one Van Gerwen and world number two Wright face off for the £100,000 top prize.
Wright found himself 3-0 down to Suljovic, who was starring in his third World Grand Prix semi-final in four years, with the Austrian averaging over 100 during his early charge in his bid for a third TV final of the year.
Suljovic won the opening set without Wright having a dart at a double as he took out 133, 96 and 113, and claimed the next two by a 3-1 margin before levelling at two-all in set four.
With Suljovic waiting on 34 to seal victory, Wright found a crucial double one with last dart in hand to get his first set on the board and begin an astonishing fightback.
World number two Wright began to take control of the tie, taking the fifth set 3-1 and following it up with a 130 finish on the bull to level the match in the sixth.
An emotional Wright then cruised to a 3-0 win in the final set to seal his place in a ninth TV final of his career and a first on the Dublin stage.
“I never doubted I would win the game, I always believe in myself,” said Wright.
“Even when I was 3-0 down I was playing pretty well but Mensur was playing awesome – all I could do was re-focus and hope that he wouldn’t keep it up.
“When I hit the double one to get my first set I celebrated to try and fire myself up. The crowd were getting behind me, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have made it so far in the tournament.”
A clinical display from three-time champion Van Gerwen saw him record a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Gurney, ending the Northern Irishman’s reign as champion.
Having taken the opening set 3-1, the following two sets both went to a deciding leg – with the Dutchman kicking off with a 160 start on both occasions to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
A determined Gurney kept his hopes of a second Dublin title alive by winning the fourth set, only for Van Gerwen to prove too strong and claim an 11th win in the last 12 meetings between the pair.
“I have to win tomorrow, it’s as simple as that,” said Van Gerwen, the Dublin champion in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
“Reaching the final means nothing if you don’t win it so I am focusing on everything I need to do right tomorrow.
“We’re going to see tomorrow if Peter knows how to beat me and I need to make sure I do the right things at the right moments.”
Van Gerwen is the 1/5 favourite with sponsors Unibet going into the final, with Wright 10/3 as he aims to claim his first World Grand Prix title.
The Unibet World Grand Prix Final will be televised live from 8pm BST on Sky Sports and worldwide through the PDC’s broadcast partners, as well as through PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers (outside of UK, Ireland & Netherlands).
The contest will be preceded by the Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay final between Mick McGowan and Kevin Burness, as they do battle for the top domestic honour and a place in the William Hill World Darts Championship.
Unibet World Grand Prix
Friday October 5
Peter Wright 4-3 Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen 4-1 Daryl Gurney
Saturday October 6 (8pm)
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
Best of nine sets
Preceded by Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay final (Approx 7.10pm)
Kevin Burness v Mick McGowan
Best of 11 legs
Unibet World Grand Prix Final – Unibet Odds
Michael van Gerwen 1/5
Peter Wright 10/3
Odds courtesy Unibet and correct at time of writing. Subject to fluctuation.