Skip to content

World Darts Championship: What next for Gerwyn Price after wearing ear defenders in quarter-final exit?

Gerwyn Price wore ear defenders and then ear plugs during a quarter-final defeat to Gabriel Clemens at the World Darts Championship; Key questions about Price's Alexandra Palace exit and what could be in store for the 'Ice Man' in 2023

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Gerwyn Price returned for the fifth set of his 5-1 quarter-final defeat to Gabriel Clemens wearing ear defenders to block out the raucous Ally Pally crowd

Gerwyn Price caused controversy within the darting world for using ear defenders during his World Darts Championship quarter-final defeat, but what next for the Welshman after his Alexandra Palace exit?

Price was 3-1 down in his quarter-final against Gabriel Clemens on New Year's Day when he returned to the stage wearing ear defenders, in an apparent move to dampen the noise coming from the raucous crowd, before eventually falling to a 5-1 loss against the impressive German.

The 'Ice Man' switched to ear plugs after the fifth set and kept them in throughout the remainder of the match, with Price's defeat completing a frustrating 2022 where he was hampered by a drop in form.

Gerwyn Price at the World Darts Championship
Image: Gerwyn Price suffered a quarter-final exit at the World Darts Championship

Why did Price wear the ear defenders?

Price has been on the receiving end of hostile receptions from darts crowds since his ill-tempered 2018 Grand Slam of Darts victory over Gary Anderson, although had never previously used ear defenders to try and drown out the booing.

Michael van Gerwen questioned Price's decision to use the defenders and ear plugs, although accepted he is going through a "tough period", while Sky Sports' Wayne Mardle admitted that it initially may have worked in the 2021 champion's favour.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The best of the action from the evening session of the quarter-finals at the World Darts Championship

"I actually tweeted "this is genius" because I thought he had turned them and turned the booing crowd into a mild-mannered crowd," Mardle told Sky Sports. "Then he took them off and got a bit angry again.

"Why did he have them on in the first place? He actually had permission [from the PDC], so this wasn't a spur of the moment thing and wasn't a case of 'oh, tonight they're annoying me, I'm going to get some ear defenders and put them on.' This was pre-meditated!"

Also See:

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Wayne Mardle says Gerwyn Price's decision to wear ear defenders was a sign that he was feeling the pressure

Should the ear defenders have been allowed?

The PDC had to provide Price with permission to use the headphones and notify his opponent, making him the first player to use them on the Alexandra Palace stage, although former world champion John Part believes the decision backfired.

"I just thought it didn't work very well on a lot of levels," Part said. "I think it's Price's own fault really that it didn't work too well. If you're going to take the step of getting permission to wear ear defenders, it's probably in your best interests not to taunt the crowd about it. Really? It's just low class, you don't do that.

"Any genuine sympathy I had for him to wear them went out the window, along with everyone else in the world, when he's there taunting and everything else with them on like it was some big fun game. It was enough of a distraction to his opponent that I think it probably shouldn't have been allowed in the first place.

"As far as I'm concerned, he deserves what he gets on this. I've never seen anything that's quite as much of a distraction and really making it the pantomime thing. The real tell-tale thing to me is that he was enjoying the fact that it was part of this interaction with the crowd, like he one-upped them and won or something."

Could Price walk away from darts?

Price wrote on Instagram after his loss to Clemens that he was unsure whether he would play in the World Championship again, although the 2021 champion subsequently deleted that post along with all others on his Instagram profile.

Gerwyn Price (Instagram post)
Image: Gerwyn Price (Instagram post)

The 37-year-old said ahead of his fourth-round win over Jose De Sousa that he was "constantly thinking about my old life and when I used to play rugby," with Mardle believing he may need additional motivation away from the oche.

"He has been saying for a while now how he needs something outside of darts, as he has become a bit bored with it," Mardle explained. "In one of the interviews this week he said he's going to take up rugby again and he broke his hand boxing in March - this is what a normal world No 1 and former world champion doesn't do!

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Wayne Mardle says Gerwyn Price's decision to wear ear defenders was a sign that he was feeling the pressure

"I think it stems from the fact that darts was never his first love, which is why I think he is looking for something else and he has said that rugby is his first love. I think it's a fascinating situation."

When will Price return to action?

Price is expected to be involved at the inaugural Bahrain Darts Masters from January 12-13, joining names including Peter Wright, Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld in a 16-man field.

He is also set to feature at the Nordic Masters in Copenhagen the following week, before ending a busy month by playing the Cazoo Masters in Milton Keynes from January 27-29.

Gerwyn Price reacting during day twelve of the Cazoo World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Thursday December 29, 2022.
Image: Can Gerwyn Price make a winning start to 2023?

Price is then likely to play in the Cazoo Premier League for a fourth time in five years, which starts on February 2 in Belfast and is live throughout 2023 on Sky Sports.

"What he has done is that every time he walks out on stage now, whether that be at The Masters, an exhibition or the Premier League, they [the crowd] will want to boo him so loudly that he reaches for the ear defenders," Mardle added. "I don't think he has thought this [using ear defenders] through, I really don't."

Watch the PDC World Darts Championship final live on Sky Sports Darts from 7.45pm on Tuesday January 3.

Around Sky