Peter Wright won one of the greatest matches in the 15 year history of the UK Open, as he beat Raymond van Barneveld 10-8 in a high quality quarter-final.
In a match where 15 dart legs looked poor, there was little to choose between the duo, with Snakebite moving into a 6-4 lead before Barney leveled the encounter at 6-6.
It rained high scores, with 11 and 12 darts being hit for fun but it was doubles that were to cost Barney, as three missed darts to go 9-7 up seemed to prey on his mind. Wright took advantage and won three straight legs to seal a place in the semi-finals with a 10-8 victory.
The tie of the afternoon pitted the bookies favourite, Peter Wright and the only former UK Open champion left in the draw, Raymond van Barneveld, head-to-head. Wright, who beat Dave Chisnall round four had been in superb form coming into the tie and had seemed comfortable with the perceived pressure of being the favourite. For van Barneveld the real question was regarding his freshness and whether he had the stamina to play at his frightening best after two days of darts.
Peter Wright started proceedings with a 14 dart leg on throw before the 180’s started to rain down, Barney taking the second leg in 11 darts with a two-dart 49 kill on double 16. The standard was high and the early averages matched that, both players averaging 115 after the third leg, where Wright added a 13-darter to hold throw.
A mark of the standard was Barney’s clear disappointment at missing double 16 for a 134, despite Wright not being on a finish. The Dutchman returned and took out double eight for a 14-darter in a real darting bonanza. He went on to break Wright in the fifth leg, taking out 85 in three darts for a 12 dart leg and a 3-2 lead going into the first interval.
The standard continued after the break, with 180’s and 140’s galore as Wright came roaring back, a 180 setting up 41, which he duly despatched in two darts for yet another 11 dart leg. He followed it in just 13 darts, finding double 16 at the first time of asking to retake the lead 4-3.
Snakebite missed double 16 for a 5-3 lead in the next leg and was made to pay, Barney hitting double 20 to hold throw and level the encounter. Wright would soon move into a two lead though, holding throw before taking out a 156 finish to lead 6-4 at the second break.
After the interval Wright almost followed his 156 with a 161 but missed the bullseye, allowing Barney to sneak in and take out double 18 for a ten dart leg to break. In the next leg Snakebite thought he had found double 16 and started to walk but he hadn’t, he returned for his last dart but missed double 8, with Barney on hand once more to steal the leg and level the encounter at 6-6.
With the scores level once more at 7-7, Barney hit six perfect darts but missed two darts at double 16 to take the lead. Wright stepped up but couldn’t take advantage, missing two for an 8-7 lead before the Dutchman returned to find double eight for a break and an 8-7 lead of his own.
The drama heightened after the break. Barney left 82 after just nine darts but couldn’t engineer a shot at double. Wright almost punished but missed double 18 for a 118 finish. He was to get another chance though, as Barney missed three more for a 9-7 lead, allowing Wright to find double eight to break back.
The missed doubles came back to haunt Barney and Snakebite took consecutive legs to win the match. A 13-darter put Wright within one leg of the match and when van Barneveld missed the bull for a 167 to stay alive, Snakebite struck, finding double 16 to seal his place in the semi-final.
This result means that we will have both a first-time UK Open winner and a first-time PDC major winner tonight, as van Barneveld was the last man standing with a major win. Wright will perhaps be an even bigger favourite for the title now, as he is certainly the most experienced player left in the draw. He faces Daryl Gurney in tonight’s semi-final, after Gurney beat Simon Whitlock.