Ex-rugby star the Worthington^s 2015 Darts Champion of Champions
Gerwyn Price’s decision to give up rugby to become a professional darts player is paying dividends as the 30-year-old clinched the Worthington’s 2015 Darts Champion of Champions title and a cheque for £5,000 at the weekend.
Price, who played for Cross Keys, Neath and Glasgow during his rugby career, won eight matches to emerge from the pack of 256 pub and club champions from across the UK in front of a partisan audience at grand final held at St David’s Hall, Cardiff.
Ranked 30 in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), his aim is to get promoted into the world’s top 16 players next year.
Price, who lives in Markham, Caerphilly, was delighted to win the Champion of Champions contest, which is organised by Bridgend-based darts specialists Red Dragon Darts and Ebbw Vale-based pay-to-play entertainment equipment supplier Coinspinner with sponsorship from Molson Coors.
The competition was run on a best of three legs, 501 shoot-out format – the same as the former ‘News of The World’ competition - giving pub players a chance to beat the professionals before they had warmed up. Prize money totalling nearly £18,000 attracted players from as far away as Scotland and London.
“Unbelievable,” was Price’s initial response after beating fellow PDC top 100 player Ian Moss from Morden, Surrey 2-0 in the final. “To be honest, it’s getting my name on that trophy and taking it home that matters most to me.
“This competition is unique, there is nothing else like it and it gives everybody a chance. I know I have won today but the underdog has a real chance of winning because the best of three legs is a lottery and I got lucky along the way.
“This tournament gives me the sharpness for the other tournaments I play. If you’re not on your game, you are not going to win. I would definitely like to come back and retain the trophy next year.”
Price, who won a qualifying event at Brewery Sports ad Social Club, Tredegar to reach the grand final, became more accurate as the contest progressed. He beat Phil Roberts, of Mile End Inn, Swansea in the last 16, Wayne Warren of The Railway, Llandaff North 2-1 in the quarter finals and Terry Temple of Huntington Working Men’s Club, 2-0 in the semi-finals.
Moss, who qualified at the Royal Surrey Arms, Morden, appeared to be the favourite heading into the final, having produced a flurry of 100 plus scores as beating David Neads of Tongwynlais RFC in the last 16, Stuart Davies, of Cardigan RFC, 2-0 in the quarter finals and Mark McGeeney, of Club 180, Manchester 2-1 in the semi-finals.
But the Surrey darts ace faded in the final as Price applied the pressure from the start. Price, who was the only Welsh player in the semi-final, won the opening leg with a double top and then took advantage when Moss missed double top in the second leg to clinch victory with double five with his last dart.
Moss, ranked 100 in the PDC, received a cheque for £2,000 as runner up. “The darts have gone really well for me today but I’m gutted that I didn’t win,” he said. “It has been a great, well organised tournament and we all know it’s a lottery over three legs because the pub players can catch out the top players.”
Martin Anderson, South West director for Molson Coors, hopes next year’s event will be even bigger and better. “It’s a great event for the players, spectators and supporters and it brings darts onto a big stage for us,” he said.
“I hope it has been worthwhile for all the pubs and clubs that have participated. My ambition for this event is to fill St David’s Hall players and spectators next year.”
Lee Hammond, of Coinspinner, said: “It has been a brilliant day and it’s going to be bigger and better next year when, hopefully, it will be embraced by even more pubs and clubs.”
Simon Hall, Red Dragon’s head of marketing, said he was “blown away” by the support from thousands of pub and club darts players across the UK. Boosting the prize money to £18,000 had created a real buzz in darts playing community.
This year’s competition doubled in size with 236 venues across the whole of South and Mid Wales and an additional 20 venues as far apart as London, Dorset and Scotland participating.
Capturing the passion for local darts, the ‘Champion of Champions’ contest enables true local champions to battle it out in professional conditions with free entry to all players and the opportunity to win serious prize money.
Stuart Davies 2 V Stuart Holland 1
David Neads 0 V Ian Moss 2
Barry Hamer 1 V Dales Hughes 2
Mark McGeeney 2 V Steven Davies 0
Terry Temple 2 V Kurt Parry 1
Jonny Clayton 2 V Alan Reynolds 0
Tim Jones 1 V Wayne Warren 2
Phil Roberts 1 V Gerwyn Price 2
Stuart Davies 0 V Ian Moss 2
Dale Hughes 0 V Mark McGeeney 2
Terry Temple 2 v Jonny Clayton 1
Wayne Warren 1 V Gerwyn Price 2
Ian Moss 2 V Mark McGeeney 0
Terry Temple 0 V Gerwyn Price 2
Ian Moss 0 V Gerwyn Price 2