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Gary Anderson vs Gerwyn Price rivalry reaches climax with two darts philosophies at war


Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson will bring contrasting philosophies to the World Championship final (Pictures: Getty)

Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson meet in the PDC World Darts Championship final on Sunday as two completely contrasting styles clash in the perfect climax of a rivalry that has been brewing for years.

Price downed Stephen Bunting to reach his first World Championship final and Anderson saw off Dave Chisnall to make his fifth, setting up the blockbuster match for the richest prize in the game.

The winner at Alexandra Palace will be handed £500,000 and will also claim victory for their philosophy on darts – be it the bombastic aggression of Price or the quiet dignity of Anderson.

The Welshman’s wild celebrations are too much for some after each leg or set, while they are even harder to take for others when he roars and pumps his fist during a leg.

However, some love the passion and energy and prefer it to Anderson’s approach, which involves as little as possible outside of throwing your darts and retrieving them from the board.

It is too simple to say this is the clash of old school vs new school, although that is how Anderson sees it, as this contrast has been going on for decades.

Anderson’s ethos echoes that of John Lowe, who won the 1979, ’87 and ’93 World Championships by playing darts with the least amount of fuss humanly possible.

Whereas the gamesmanship of Eric Bristow and showmanship of Bobby George were more akin to Price’s philosophy on the game.

Different styles, personalities and thoughts on the sport have been on display as long as it has been a televised event and Price vs Anderson is as good an example of the contrast as we have seen and they are staunch defenders of their positions.

The pair first played each other back in 2014, but first on television at the 2017 World Series of Darts Finals, where Anderson let the viewers know what he thought of Price’s antics.

The Flying Scotsman won the game 10-8 without much fuss, but his feelings were clear after the contest.

‘The game’s changing,’ he told ITV. ‘I class myself as old school. A lot of players, the old boys, Steve Beaton, we just go up there and play darts.

‘We don’t jump about. We hit 180s. We’re supposed to hit 180s, it’s nothing to scream about. That’s what we do, that’s our job. I’ll stick to my old school.’

At that point, Price had become the pantomime villain with the crowd, largely due to his reactions, and he was getting booed on a regular basis by the fans.

However, the match was completed with little incident, with Nigel Pearson saying on commentary: ‘Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price actually played that in a very nice spirit.’

Price has enjoyed a trophy-laden couple of years (Picture: Lawrence Lustig)

Things were much less cordial when they met in the 2018 Masters, with Anderson clearly getting riled up by Price during the match, despite going on to win it.

It wasn’t just the celebrations, but feeling that the Iceman was employing some more overt gamesmanship, getting in his eyeline when walking back from the board.

This was all a slow and steady build to the serious flashpoint in their rivalry, which exploded at the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts final.

Price battled to victory over Anderson in an ill-tempered contest, with Price’s over-the-top celebrations reaching extremes. Hitting one treble in a visit would produce a huge roar from the Welshman, although it was the time these celebrations took, rather than the volume which really rattled Anderson.

At one point, as the Iceman celebrated on the oche mid-leg, Anderson gave him a push to encourage him to get on with the game and the players squared up in a pretty ugly scene for professional darts.

It was an enthralling watch, with Price clearly going too far, but Anderson also letting it get to him too much. It seemed that the Scot just needed to take a second longer before stepping to the oche and the antics would have no impact.

The Welshman won the game and made no apology for how he went about it, saying Anderson’s reactions only encouraged him.

‘I knew if I put him under pressure he would crack, and he did,’ Price told Sky Sports. ‘I’m throwing my darts. He needs to wait for his turn, hold back.

‘He doesn’t like it with a little bit up him, so unlucky.

‘He can’t handle playing me. He just moans every time that I’m doing this, doing that. Concentrate on your own game. I won, happy days.’

Price added later in the evening: ‘The first time he made a reaction, I knew I was under his skin and I knew to just keep on top of him and he’s going to fold.

‘I knew that he doesn’t like the way I play. My game is my game so he needs to concentrate on his own.’

The former rugby player added that, while he knows his reactions wind people up, that is not why he plays this way, saying that he needs to get pumped up to perform.

‘I do what I do because it gets me going, I don’t do it to be a bad person,’ he explained. ‘People either love it or they hate it, but I think most of them hate it.’

Price was hit with a huge fine by the Darts Regulation Authority for his behaviour in that game, and a couple of other charges, with the £21,500 fee the largest in DRA history.

An appeal saw £10,000 shaved off that hefty bill, but the punishment left a mark on the Welshman.

‘The fine came through and I didn’t know how to play or how to react,’ Price told the Sky Sports Darts podcast. ‘Then after the (2019) Masters I was in my shell a little bit and I just thought bugger it, I’ll just be myself and whatever happens happens.

Gerwyn Price is into his first PDC World Darts Championship final (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’ve been the same player ever since, the same player from before the fine and I haven’t had any more fines so I don’t understand why I’ve had the first one.

‘I was shocked and a bit peed off with what happened. Not only that I had a fine but that Gary had absolutely nothing.’

The relationship between the pair has been frosty, to say the least, with Price telling Metro.co.uk in February 2019: ‘I don’t see Gary at all, I haven’t really spoken to him, he does his own thing and I do my own thing.’

We have not seen the fireworks of the 2018 Grand Slam clash between the two since then, despite a handful of contests. Anderson knows what to expect on Sunday, though, saying after his semi-final win: ‘I’ll be quiet, he’ll be loud. If I can shut the games out quicker he can’t celebrate can he? That’s the plan anyway, it might not happen.’

Price’s role of the pantomime villain has been blown away by his ongoing brilliance over the last two years as he has picked up another Grand Slam title, the World Grand Prix, World Cup and World Series of Darts. If he wins on Sunday night he will go to number one in the world.

Obviously it is also impossible to by booed in the empty arenas they are playing in now.

The pair have shared wins and the head-to-head record now stands at 8-7 in Anderson’s favour, illustrating how this is a superb sporting rivalry as much as it is a philosophical one.

So will we see another heated affair or an incident-free meeting when they embark on their biggest ever clash?

Anderson has not helped his hopes of a classical match by being so clearly rattled by Mensur Suljovic’s tactics in their third round clash at Ally Pally.

The Austrian tried his best to put the Scot off his rhythm, slowing him down to extreme levels, and while Anderson progressed, the gamesmanship clearly took its toll.

‘My head was gone after the first set, half way through it. I’d lost the plot,’ Anderson admitted.

Anderson was clearly rattled by Suljovic in their third round match (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I just want to play darts, there’s a lot of things that go on now, but throw darts and if you get spanked, the boy’s been better than you. You shake his hand and on you go. But come on, that’s a load of tripe.

‘If that’s how darts is going to be played, have fun, I’m offski, I’m away for a game of golf. I’m not going through that again.’

Price is more than good enough not to have to resort to these tactics against Anderson, but with the Scot admitting they affect him so much, then he will certainly be tempted, especially after seeing the results first hand at the Grand Slam.

Suljovic found that his own game was ruined by the lack of rhythm and Price should also be worried about that, if he does try and employ some of the darker arts of the oche.

Whether we see a clean contest or something a little dirtier, it all adds to the intrigue of this rivalry and the tension ahead of the biggest match in the sport.

There is little doubt that most onlookers will want Anderson to win this one, with the popular Scot’s approach more appealing to the majority, but plenty will be backing Price and his brand of arrows.

Pick a side and enjoy, because not only is this a clash of styles, these are two of the finest players the game has seen, whether you like their methods or not.


MORE :
Gary Anderson admits he needs to ‘buck up his ideas’ ahead of World Darts final


MORE : ‘Gutted’ Michael van Gerwen knocked out of PDC World Darts Championship by inspired Dave Chisnall

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