Gerwyn Price vs Gary Anderson: Fireworks expected in Grand Slam rematch
The Grand Slam of Darts continues on Sky Sports at 8pm on Saturday evening
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 16/11/19 7:15pm
Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price gear up for Saturday night's Grand Slam quarter-final in what is arguably the most anticipated rematch in the tournament's history.
Twelve months ago, Price triumphed in an ill-tempered final and the legacy of its cantankerous nature still follows the Welshman.
But so much has changed in the interim.
Coming into the 2018 decider, there was a lively debate among darts fans and experts alike as to whether or not Michael van Gerwen was still the best player in the world.
There was certainly a case to be made for the Anderson - he had scooped UK Open, World Matchplay and Champions League titles already that year, and was heavily tipped to add the Eric Bristow Trophy to his haul for the season coming into the decider.
Price, on the other hand, was a respected tour member, but few held him in the same breath as the sport's top contenders.
All changed on that November night.
"It's a great feeling to pick up any trophy. But to win your first ever major and to be the first-ever Welsh player to win (a PDC major) as well, means the world to me," said Price, chatting on his episode of 'My Greatest Game'.
"The feeling on stage to beat an arch enemy as well, it was brilliant."
Anderson burst into an early 7-4 lead, but the Iceman remained cool and rallied. Verbals began to fly, as the two-time world champ took umbrage with his opponent's celebrations.
The heat intensified, and it ultimately reached boiling point in the 28th leg of the match. With Price leading 14-13, he banged in a 174 and roared in celebration. Anderson deemed it an invasion of his personal space, and pushed the Welshman away.
"After the incident when Gary put his hands on me, the crowd sort of got on my back as well. That made me play a little bit better," Price recounted.
"I was always behind most of the game. To get my head in front, I was pretty confident from there on.
"As long as you stick with them, stick on their coattails, they'll start throwing some rubbish darts, which he did."
Anderson had lost his temperament, and the match soon went the same way.
"It did [kick off last year]," said Wayne Mardle.
"I think it's different this year. We know that Price got heavily fined by the Darts Regulation Authority, so he doesn't really do what he was doing last year to that extent.
"He just plays a better game to a better level, and Gary Anderson has got to deal with that."
Anderson has had his injury troubles in 2019 and is yet to hit the heights of last year. Nonetheless, he has shown signs of life this week and dug deep for a hard-fought win over Robert Thornton in the last 16.
"It's been a long time since I've won games like that," he laughed following the win over his former World Cup team-mate.
"It's getting there. I'm starting to enjoy it again. It's been hard work getting back into it, but we're getting there slowly."
Albeit without further major trophies, it could be said that Price has built on that triumph from 12 months ago. A fifth-place finish in the Premier League represented significant progress from his winless run in the tournament the year before.
His standards are rising the whole time.
"Ninety-seven (average) is not a bad game, but if you want to win tournaments like this, you need a ton-plus," he said, after demolishing Darren Webster 10-1 on Thursday.
"I just need to try and improve every game."
That's exactly what he has been doing.
I'm going to go with Gerwyn Price. I just think he's a different animal now.
Wayne Mardle is tipping the Iceman
And so, the time for talking is almost over (although don't bet against words being exchanged on-stage).
Most are in agreement that it's notoriously difficult to call.
But we are guaranteed one thing - there are going to be fireworks.
Coverage of the Grand Slam of Darts continues on Sky Sports Action & Main Event from 8pm on Saturday night with the remaining two quarter-finals.