The way the world is, there’s not much in it on which we can rely, but the world darts championship remains one such thing, an unstoppable meld of drama, tension, humanity and joy. If you don’t love this, you don’t love anything.
And what a final it’s delivered for us here, a clash of popularity, personality and philosophy. Gerwyn Price is a reformed rugby player and the coming man – if he wins, he supplants Michael van Gerwen as world number 1 – and also the favourite, but only in betting parlance. A throbbing ball of animus and abs, he could start a fight in an empty head, hurls every dart like the board cussed his mum and antagonises the crowd like he’s cussing theirs. He’s absolutely brilliant and we’re extremely lucky to have him.
Gary Anderson, on the other hand, is one of the greatest and most stylish players of all-time, a two-time world champion who will be catapulted into the ranks of the immortals with a win tonight. He spent the early part of his working life fitting fireplaces, but finding himself in the pub one dinnertime, picked up a set of arrows and promptly discharged 140, 180, 140. Easy.
Actually, not so easy. For years, Anderson epitomised the trebles for show, doubles for dough maxim, a reliable scorer but unreliable finisher liable to crumble at the biggest moments. His critics assumed he lacked bottle and desire, but as often, the reality was to the contrary; he lost his dad and his brother in quick succession, and once the rawness faded, the form flowed. It’s true that he still intimates a relaxed approach to things, but he cares a lot more than he lets on and pretending to the contrary is his way of handling the pressure.
On top of which, despite his reputation as a lovable self-deprecator with a cheeky grin, Anderson knows exactly how good he is and nurtures an extremely sensitive twatdar. But he believes in values beyond winning, which means he can be waylaid by the kind of confrontational activity in which Price, who does not, specialises – just see the 2018 Grand Slam final between the pair, which gives us all the needle we could possibly want. For him it’s not a match but a melee, and he’ll look to interrupt Anderson’s rhythm then use all consequent displeasure to fortify his own sense of fury and injustice.
This is going to be brilliant.
Game on: 7.30pm GMT