Gerwyn Price bidding to overcome his Milton Keynes struggles as he eyes Premier League Play-Offs

Gerwyn Price enjoyed mixed fortunes during last month’s Summer Series and World Matchplay, but as the Welshman prepares for the Premier League’s return in Milton Keynes, he’s hopeful of hitting the ground running in a bid to secure a top-four spot.

‘The Iceman’ currently finds himself three points clear of elimination with three fixtures remaining ahead of Judgement Night, whilst he’s two points adrift of play-off qualification, which has proven elusive in his previous two Premier League appearances.

Price made a sluggish start to the inaugural Summer Series but soon found his form and reached the final in event five – defying a remarkable 113 average from Devon Petersen in the semi-finals.

Nevertheless, the 35-year-old suffered his fourth consecutive opening round exit at the World Matchplay just over a week later, producing a lethargic display in succumbing to Danny Noppert.

For the first time since the 2012 World Grand Prix, none of the world’s top four featured in the quarter-finals of a major ranking tournament and Price attributed his struggles to an unfamiliar and subdued atmosphere.

“As far as the Matchplay goes, I think playing behind closed doors doesn’t really suit me, even though the crowd are on my back a lot,” Price told the Darts Show podcast.

“They have got a lot better over the last couple of months but I just need that atmosphere, that adrenaline and the blood running through my veins to get me through games. It was just a bit flat for me and I didn’t really enjoy it.

“I can play in the Pro Tours but with the Matchplay it was different, because they tried to put the crowd behind you with the sound and everything.

“I don’t know what the other players thought about it but for me, I think they maybe should have just done it for the TV and not for us.

“Having a crowd there and having the atmosphere and the adrenaline, or just play it like a Pro Tour, really quiet for us but do something for the TV. I think for myself it was a little bit off-putting. I just couldn’t get going.”

There was plenty of speculation prior to the Matchplay about how Price would perform in a sterile, behind-closed-doors environment, given that adrenaline is an integral component of his darting make-up.

However, the likes of world No 1 Michael van Gerwen and former UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall also relish the big-stage atmosphere and they both produced disappointing showings at the Marshall Arena.

The PDC confirmed last week that four further Premier League nights would be hosted behind closed doors in Milton Keynes from September 3-6, comprising the entire league phase.

Price’s upcoming PL fixtures

That could be a cause for concern for ‘The Iceman’ given his insipid Matchplay display, but the two-time Grand Slam champion is hoping that last month’s experience will help him acclimatise this time around.

“If I had gone and averaged 120 then I probably would have said it didn’t bother me, but I lost and I didn’t play well,” admitted Price.

“I certainly know now what to expect and what is coming. I just have to deal with it the best I can. I’ve had situations which I didn’t like before and I’ve dealt with them pretty well and it’s the same for every other player.

“I’ve been practising well, I’m playing well. That one game against Danny [Noppert] doesn’t really bother me because I know I’m still playing well and I’ve got to go and do it in the Premier League.”

Price’s immediate focus will be avoiding the indignity of elimination on Judgement Night and he faces Aspinall, two-time winner Gary Anderson and challenger Jermaine Wattimena before the axe falls on the ninth-placed player.

The Welshman is optimistic of forcing his way into play-off contention, although he also suggested that he’ll be using the Premier League’s return as preparation for upcoming ranking events.

“We’ve got two Premier League weeks now. It’s non-ranked. It is nice to win money, it is nice to go and win the tournament but at least I have a couple of tournaments before the ranked events come back,” he continued.

“I think after the first three games in Milton Keynes someone drops out, so as long as I can stay in and play all the players again, I’m confident that I can finish in the top four and then possibly go on and win it.

“I think one or two of the games this year, especially against Daryl Gurney – I should have lost that game but I’m still in with a chance and I’ll give it my best shot.”

It’s been uncharted territory for many full-time professionals who have been starved of competitive action since lockdown ensued, but away from the oche, Price revealed that he’s been involved in property development.

“I need to be match-fit. I cannot just practice. I don’t know how everybody else thinks about it, but you can’t just practice and expect to play a game full of confidence.”

Price on the PL return…

The world No 3 insists he won’t be appearing on Homes Under the Hammer anytime soon, although he is hoping to get the foundations in place for a strong second half of the season.

“When we played those Summer Series and then went into the Matchplay, and then now having another four, five, six weeks off, that certainly doesn’t help, but if the darts [events] can be more consistent now leading up to those tournaments, I think I’ll be in a better place than I am now.

“I need to be match-fit. I cannot just practice. I don’t know how everybody else thinks about it, but you can’t just practice and expect to play a game full of confidence.

“You need to be playing in games I think and certainly these Premier Leagues will help leading up to that, so hopefully I’m firing on all cylinders like I was against Peter [Wright] in the [Grand Slam] final last year.

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