WRIGHT ENDS TITLE DROUGHT WITH GAMBRINUS CZECH DARTS OPEN WIN
Peter Wright won his first ranking title of 2023 in style with a sensational final day at the Gambrinus Czech Darts Open in Prague, which culminated in an 8-6 win over Dave Chisnall in the final.
Two-time World Champion Wright has endured a difficult period on and off the oche in recent months and sits at the foot of the Cazoo Premier League table.
His sole tournament win so far in 2023 had come at the Nordic Darts Masters in January, but Wright ended that barren spell in style at PVA Expo.
Sunday's win saw Wright claim his eighth European Tour title - equalling Gerwyn Price's tally - while the 30,000 pound prize money sees him return to second on the PDC Order of Merit above Michael van Gerwen.
The win was also Wright's first ranking success since September last year, when he won a European Tour title in Jena, as he celebrated a memorable victory.
"Wow - I won!" smiled an emotional Wright. "Chizzy has won three in about six months so it's always going to be hard playing him.
"To win tournaments you need these ton-plus averages. My averages will go up and they need to go up, because the standard of player around at the moment is unbelievable and it's great for darts."
Wright's challenge in Prague had seen him forced to battle from behind to edge out Brendan Dolan in Saturday's second round.
However, he hit top form with a 6-3 third round victory over Danny Noppert - landing a 153 finish and averaging 102 - before powering in a 156 checkout as he knocked out top seed Luke Humphries by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals.
The Scot then held off Damon Heta's fightback from 5-1 down to claim a dramatic 7-5 semi-final success, with the Australian missing three darts to level the game in leg ten before a 104 finish saw Wright progress to the final.
Wright opened the final with a 100 finish to break throw immediately with a 12-darter, and he doubled his lead before Chisnall responded to level with back-to-back legs of his own.
Wright took out another 100 checkout to regain the edge, and after the pair traded 13-darters it was the former World Champion who moved into a 6-3 advantage with successive legs.
Heta then punished a missed bull from Wright as he broke back on double nine, before finishing 120 to reduce the arrears to one.
Tops edged Wright to the brink of victory, and though he missed five match darts in the 13th leg, the 53-year-old was first to a finish in the next as double ten sealed the title.
"I'm an old guy enjoying darts, which is the main thing," added Wright. "This crowd were unbelievable, they supported everybody and I can't wait to [be back] next year."
Chisnall has won European Tour titles in Kiel and Leeuwarden this year as well as in Wieze last September, and he saw off UK Open champion Andrew Gilding, Premier League star Nathan Aspinall and Rob Cross in reaching another final.
"Peter played brilliant and deserved to win the game," said Chisnall. "He had a little bit more in the final but it was a great weekend for me to get to the final.
"I've had a great tournament in front of a wonderful crowd - it's been a pleasure and I'm looking forward to coming back next year."
Australian World Cup star Heta, a European Tour winner in Gibraltar last year, defeated Kim Huybrechts and Premier League ace Jonny Clayton on his way to the semis.
Cross, meanwhile, picked up a quarter-final triumph over Van Gerwen after ending home hopes in Prague in Sunday's opening third round tie as he overcame Karel Sedlacek 6-3.
Van Gerwen, last weekend's Belgian Darts Open champion, succumbed to Cross in the quarter-finals, with Premier League rivals Aspinall and Clayton - plus top seed Humphries - also exiting in the last eight.
The PDC European Tour returns from May 26-28 with the Interwetten European Darts Grand Prix in Sindelfingen, where 48 players will compete across three days.