Collingwood v GWS Giants - First Preliminary FinalSep 22 LIVE
Dimitri Van Den Bergh shocked former housemate Peter Wright to avenge his defeat in last year’s World Matchplay final.
Van Den Bergh, the 2020 champion at Blackpool, prevailed 16-14 in a Winter Gardens classic to knock out the world number one at the quarter-final stage.
The two players are great pals and Van Den Bergh stayed at Wright’s family home in Suffolk when darts went into hibernation in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But there was little friendship on the oche with ‘Snakebite’ sprinting into a 5-1 lead after the Belgian had hit the first of 11 180s in a winning opening leg.
Van Den Bergh turned the tide in incredible fashion by winning 10 consecutive legs against the reigning world champion.
Wright, sporting a green Mohican haircut, refused to give in however and reduced the deficit to 12-7.
The Scot then won six legs on the bounce to recapture the lead, but Van Den Bergh regained his composure to reach his third-straight World Matchplay semi-final.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Van Den Bergh told Sky Sports after falling to his knees in victory.
“I was 5-1 down and I thought it was going to be a repeat of the final last year.
“But all of a sudden I got back in the game… and now I’m in the semi-final.”
Michael van Gerwen will meet Van Den Bergh in the last four after a 16-14 victory over Nathan Aspinall.
In the early stages the contest was a far more sedate affair than the fireworks which had preceded it as two-time champion Van Gerwen produced some ruthless finishing.
Games went with throw until Van Gerwen, World Matchplay winner in 2015 and 2016, broke in the eighth leg for a 5-3 advantage.
Fourth seed Van Gerwen stretched his lead to 11-4 before Stockport thrower Aspinall staged a ferocious comeback.
Aspinall produced a brilliant 164 checkout and won another leg with a bullseye finish as the gap was cut to just one.
But Van Gerwen, who had missed three match darts in the previous leg while facing boos all around the Winter Gardens, held his nerve to clinch victory with a magnificent 146 finish.