Peter Wright insists his World Championship title has not been devalued by the number of withdrawals from the tournament.
Michael Van Gerwen, Dave Chisnall and Vincent Van Der Voort were all forced to pull out after testing positive for coronavirus, which threatened to derail the sport’s premier competition.
Snakebite was not one of those affected and the 51-year-old beat Michael Smith 7-5 in a tense final at Alexandra Palace to join an elite list of names to win the Sid Waddell Trophy twice, having also triumphed in 2020.
Wright, ranked number two in the world, produced his best darts when it really mattered, winning nine of the last 10 legs to get the better of Smith, who will be left ruing a missed opportunity.
“I am over the moon. I know it is Sid, but it is my lady, I am happy to get her back,” he said.
“I am gutted for the players that have missed out on the tournament, Michael, Chissy and Vincent and the other players, but that doesn’t take away from me working hard to get it.
“I have won it back-to-back with crowds in. To be part of that elite group, people might say it was lucky when I beat Michael (Van Gerwen) when he wasn’t playing well, but it’s nice to prove everyone I can win it horribly.
I can win another three before I am too old
“I can win another three before I am too old.
“I have to keep my feet on the ground because there are many fantastic darts players around.
“I have got that big sign on my back for the rest of the year that they all want to beat me, they will all play extremely well and hit big finishes. That’s because I am world champion and they want to beat the world champion.”
Smith will have nightmares about this defeat, which followed his 2019 loss to Van Gerwen, as he appeared to be within touching distance of glory when he led 5-4 and had the darts at 2-0 to go within a set of a maiden major title.
Michael Smith was left to reflect on what might have been (John Walton/PA).
But his record now stands at six losses from six finals.
“I must have done something terrible in a past life because it’s doing my head in now,” he told Sky Sports after the match.
“I’ll have a bad night now, but I’ll definitely be back on that board and I’ll be getting ready for the next one.
“I wasn’t playing my best, but every time it got to a two-set thing, I kept fighting back and fighting back, but in the end that bullseye wouldn’t go in.
“I had a couple of shots at 104 and stuff but that’s darts, I guess.”