He took five steps to the left without showing a move. Then, as so often, he presented his well-trained upper arms to the spectators. A loud scream rounded off his staged and repeatedly performed celebration of winning the match. Gerwyn Price is back. After a broken hand in early March and his mini-crisis in recent months, the Welshman has not only found his way back to his top level. He is also returning to where he believes he belongs: on the darts throne, number one in the world rankings.

The decisive factor was the convincing entry into the World Matchplay semifinals with 16:14 against José de Sousa. In the live ranking, Price is already at the top, where he has currently earned 6250 pounds more than Peter Wright. When the Order of Merit is updated on Monday, Price will also officially pass the Scot. Wright then held the supremacy in darts for 141 days. He took over Price’s position after the UK Open in early March.

However, “Snakebite” failed on Thursday evening in the quarter-finals of the traditional tournament in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens against Belgian Dimitri van den Bergh – Price was ready to profit a day later. “It pushed me to win the game. Without that pressure I might have been a little too relaxed,” said The Iceman about knowing he could be number one for the second time in his career. Between January 2021 and the UK Open this year, the 37-year-old was already at the top of the world rankings, which are calculated over the past two years.

“I deserve to be there,” the former rugby player said now. “I would have preferred to play against Peter in the final to steal his place in a direct duel, but unfortunately he was eliminated.” Price meets Danny Noppert from the Netherlands in the semi-finals on Saturday evening. On the other side of the tournament tree, Michael van Gerwen is measuring himself against van den Bergh – and not against Wright.

Price could go a step further in the month-long duel for number one status if he wins the World Matchplay. There is £200,000 for the winner, Wright only takes home £30,000 for his quarter-final entry. Next January, Price’s 2021 world title will drop out of the ranking. It’s quite possible that he could use a bit of a lead then.

For the tournament in Ally Pally, the world darts association PDC has announced only small changes in view of the parallel World Cup. This emerges from the time-exact game plan that the PDC published. Accordingly, the tournament should start on December 15th and last until January 3rd. This is exactly the time window in which the most important darts tournament of the season took place in previous years.

The two semi-finals will be played in Qatar on December 13th and 14th – before the start of the tournament in London. The match for third place is scheduled for December 17th, the final for December 18th. The PDC made minimal adjustments to the schedule for the only two days on which the darts world championship and the football world championship collided. The lunch session on December 17th and 18th starts at 1 p.m. instead of 1.30 p.m. (German time). In the evening it starts an hour later, namely at 9 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. German time.

So the game for third place and the final in Qatar, which starts at 4 p.m., can be better avoided. Traditionally, darts are not played on the three days of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The final will be held on January 3rd. Ticket sales begin on August 4th.

Peter Wright – Dimitri van den Bergh 14:16

Michael van Gerwen – Nathan Aspinall 16:14

Dirk van Duijvenbode – Danny Noppert 11:16

Gerwyn Price – José de Sousa 16:14

Dimitri van den Bergh – Michael van Gerwen

Danny Noppert – Gerwyn Price