Peter Wright's historic season: Is Snakebite currently the best player in the world?
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 05/10/17 12:18am
What a season Peter Wright has enjoyed.
He has become just the fourth man in history to win 10 PDC events in a calendar year, claimed his first major title, broke his final jinx against Michael van Gerwen (and backed it up), and played some breathtaking darts throughout.
There is an argument to suggest Snakebite he has been the most consistent performer in 2017 and with a host of big names already absent or out at the World Grand Prix, Snakebite is now the highest-ranked player in the field and the bookmakers' favourite to make off with the title.
Wright is currently at a career-high three in the world but a run to the semi-final in Dublin will take him up to second, he takes on Mervyn King on Wednesday night seeking a place in the last eight as a remarkable season continues.
So far in 2017, Wright has tasted success in a phenomenal 10 PDC events, while also making a further three finals, four semi-finals and five quarter-finals.
To put that into perspective, world No 1 Van Gerwen has won 12 events, while No 2 Gary Anderson has won just five, three of which were Player Championship events.
While always one of the most talented players on the PDC circuit, the Wright of 2017 has developed into a clinical winner.
His year started with a run to the World Championship semi-finals, averaging over 100 in four straight games and while he was ultimately pipped by a blistering Gary Anderson, the form he showed the Alexandra Palace was the pre-cursor to a fabulous season.
Breaking his Major duck
With MVG injured, everyone in the UK Open field will have fancied their chances in the so-called FA Cup of darts and it was Wright who seized the moment, putting three major final defeats behind him, two of which had come at that very tournament.
The draw did him no favours but victories over Dave Chisnall and Rob Cross showed he was a man in form and he followed up with a brilliant 10-8 victory over Raymond van Barneveld thanks to a superb 110 average.
The rapidly improving Daryl Gurney was dispatched in the semi-final 11-5 and Wright entered the final against surprise package Gerwyn Price as the favourite.
He raced into a commanding 7-2 lead and displayed immense concentration and ruthlessness to go on and close it out 11-6 amid tears of joy. He had finally arrived at the very top table.
The Premier League is often a key marker as to a player's abilities and consistency in a season, and Wright finished just one point behind van Gerwen in the final table and should have claimed the title at the O2.
He took a 7-2 lead against MVG in the final before being pegged back to 8-8. At 10-9 in front Wright could taste yet another victory with him just one leg away, but having left 32 after nine darts, he missed six darts for the title in excruciating fashion.
Wright still had the throw in the decider but van Gerwen hit a magnificent 12-dart leg to break the Scot and win 11-10 in one of the most breathtaking finals in Premier League history.
It's worth remembering that Wright was top of the standings for most of the season and in his 7-2 Premier League victory over Adrian Lewis in Exeter in March, Wright registered the second highest three-dart average of all-time.
His tally of 119.50 is second only to van Gerwen's ridiculous 123.40 average in 2016 and underlined his rise from efficient and steady to a spectacular scorer, with an average of 100 now the norm for Snakebite as his victories have shown.
Later that same month Wright got another significant monkey off his back at the German Darts Championship.
Wright went into the final in Hildesheim having lost 10 successive finals in a row against MVG but Snakebite overcame Mighty Mike 6-3 in Germany as momentum in his season started to build.
The 47-year-old backed up that win with the German Open crown in April before whitewashing van Gerwen 6-0 in the final of European Darts Grand Prix, also in Germany.
Just two days after Premier League heartbreak, Wright came out and won the 11th Players Championship event, beating Daryl Gurney 6-3, underlining his character and an unwillingness to let a devastating defeat affect his campaign.
July saw him clinch yet another title on the European Tour, winning the European Darts Open 6-2 before going into double figures for the season in September, beating Belgian flyer Kim Huybrechts 6-5 to lift the International Darts Open.
That victory saw him join an elite group of Phil Taylor, John Part and van Gerwen to have won 10 or more PDC events in a calendar year.
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Best in the world?
No one is doubting MVG's standing at the very top of the game but there is no doubt at the moment he is having a blip and the birth of his first child means the focus is understandably elsewhere.
Likewise, Anderson's mind is elsewhere with family matters dominating and Wright is well placed to take advantage.
However as darts enters the business end of the year when the big prizes are dished out, the big fish come to play and MVG is the biggest of them all.
In seven of the remaining events to come, world No 1 van Gerwen is the defending champion, including the Grand Slam, the Players Championship Finals and the World Championships.
Wright can put down a marker this week in Dublin and take MVG's crown like he did at the UK Open where the Dutchman was absent injured. Make a dent in those and an already impressive year will start to take on an even bigger feel.
Snakebite's tremendous 10
|UK Open||March 2017|
|German Darts Championship||March 2017|
|German Open||April 2017|
|European Darts Grand Prix||May 2017|
|Players Championship 11||May 2017|
|European Darts Open||July 2017|
|International Darts Open||September 2017|
|UK Open Qualifier 1||February 2017|
|UK Open Qualifier 3||February 2017|
|UK Open Qualifier 6||February 2017|
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