PETER WRIGHT won his fourth European Tour title by defeating Mervyn King 6-2 in the final of the HappyBet European Darts Open on Sunday night in Leverkusen.
The world number three showed his class to scoop the £25,000 title once again and extend his outstanding 2017 with a ninth tournament victory of the year.
Having already claimed three European Tour titles in Germany, he thrilled the capacity crowd at Leverkusen’s Ostermann Arena with another sublime showing as he denied King his first German victory since 2014.
Having seen off Robbie Green 6-1 in Saturday’s second round, Wright then dropped just three legs to kick off Sunday’s challenge, before overcoming top ten rival Dave Chisnall for the loss of only one leg in the quarter-finals.
He then averaged almost 100 in his semi-final win over Mensur Suljovic, coming from 3-1 down to reel off five straight legs for a 6-3 triumph.
The final saw Wright come up against his former Pairs partner and East Anglian rival King, who had become the first unseeded player to reach a European Tour final for almost 18 months with his run in Leverkusen.
Wright began in superb fashion by taking out 136 to break throw immediately with a 12-darter, and the pair traded 177 scores in leg two before double nine saw King level.
Wright, though, broke for a second time with a 13-darter to lead 2-1 before winning the next three legs – with the aid of another 13-dart finish – to move to the brink of victory.
King landed a 180 in a 13-darter to cut the gap to 5-2, but Wright was in no mood to allow his rival any further hope of a comeback, taking out 101 in clinical fashion to seal victory with a 103 average and six doubles from nine attempts.
Wright’s win sees him move into second place in the all-time list of European Tour wins with five – behind Michael van Gerwen’s 17 – as he continued a memorable year.
“Mervyn had beaten everyone in the other half and I had to play my best in the final, and luckily enough I played my best game of the weekend,” said Wright.
“The crowd got me hyped up and really focused and my adrenaline was crazy, and the 136 in the first leg was a great start.
“Mervyn has worked really hard to come back to where he is now and he’s had loads of semi-finals and finals in the floor tournaments this year, and he’s coming back.”
Wright added: “I learned from my mistakes and transferred that into wins, and it’s paying off. I want to win everything and it’s a great way to set myself up for the World Series events coming up in Shanghai and Las Vegas.”
King, who won a European Tour event in Germany almost three years ago, had battled through the UK Qualifier to secure his place in Leverkusen, before seeing off Kim Viljanen, Ian White and Devon Petersen to reach the last eight.
Having earlier seen Rob Cross knock out World Champion Van Gerwen, King then ended the Hastings thrower’s chances with a 6-2 quarter-final win before overcoming Michael Smith 6-4 in the last four.
Although he was out-gunned by Wright in the final, King collected £10,000 in prize money for a strong weekend’s work as he reached his fifth European Tour decider.
“I’ve done really well and I’m very proud of what I’ve done after having to qualify for this event,” said King. “I’ve failed at the last hurdle but what a hurdle to fail at.
“I’ve known Peter for 20 years and he played some fantastic darts all day. I couldn’t answer that tonight and he was a worthy winner.”
Cross produced another performance to enhance his growing reputation with an outstanding 6-2 third round victory over Van Gerwen in Sunday’s afternoon session.
World number one Van Gerwen was also bidding – like Wright – to win a fourth European Tour event of the year, but saw Cross land three ton-plus checkouts as the pair both averaged over 102 in a fine game.
Scotland’s John Henderson and Welsh ace Gerwyn Price joined Cross and Chisnall in the quarter-finals, while Suljovic’s bid to claim a second European Tour title was ended in the last four by Wright.
May’s Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner Smith – last week’s Austrian Darts Open finalist – saw off Daryl Gurney and Price on Sunday as he continued his strong form.
The day had begun with Suljovic handed a third round Bye after Joe Cullen withdrew to return to the UK after his father suffered a heart attack, while Alan Norris, James Richardson, Dimitri Van den Bergh joined Bunting, Gurney, Petersen and Van Gerwen in losing out at the last 16 stage.
HappyBet European Darts Open
Mensur Suljovic Bye (Joe Cullen Withdrew)
John Henderson 6-5 Alan Norris
Dave Chisnall 6-3 James Richardson
Peter Wright 6-3 Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael Smith 6-3 Daryl Gurney
Mervyn King 6-3 Devon Petersen
Rob Cross 6-2 Michael van Gerwen
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 John Henderson
Peter Wright 6-1 Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Mervyn King 6-2 Rob Cross
Peter Wright 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Mervyn King 6-4 Michael Smith
Peter Wright 6-2 Mervyn King
written by Dave Allen