Daryl Gurney kept getting off the floor in a battling New Year’s Day display in his bid to make darting history as the Iceman, Gerwyn Price, just about kept his cool to win and was honest enough to admit: “I was very, very lucky.”
And on one of the most dramatic World Championship nights ever at Alexandra Palace, World No.1 and three-time champion Michael van Gerwen was crushed 5-0 by Morecambe’s Dave Chisnall in the sport’s biggest ever upset.
Northern Ireland No.1 Gurney matched former professional rugby player Price blow for blow in their thrilling quarter-final, a classic encounter that went all the way to a deciding leg and included 24 maximums and five ton-plus finishes as the two warriors hugged in mutual respect at the finish of an emotionally draining battle.
Gurney was attempting to become the first Irishman to reach the semi-finals of the £2.5m showpiece, being played behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions, but came up just short, losing 5-4.
Price, who plays England’s Stephen Bunting in Saturday night’s semi-finals, stays on course for the £500,000 top prize, while Gurney goes home with £50,000.
World No.3 Price — who also struggled to a deciding leg win over Belcoo’s Brendan Dolan in the third round — got off to a flying start, taking the opening two legs, before Gurney broke the throw to make it 2-1. But the Welshman held his nerve, taking the opening set 3-1.
Price (35) broke the Gurney (34) throw in the opening leg of the second set then held his throw to make it 2-0, before quickly wrapping up the second set.
World No.11 Gurney started finding his form in the third set, building up a 2-1 lead in legs before a 14-dart leg clinched a must-win set.
Gurney — whose career highlights include winning the 2017 World Grand Prix and 2018 Players’ Championship — held his throw to win the opening leg of the fourth set, Price quickly levelling, before the Ulsterman went 2-1 up and bagged the set with a break of throw. Two sets all and game on.
The first two legs of set five were shared, before Price edged ahead at 2-1 and then produced a stunning 143 finish to clinch the set and a 3-2 lead.
Gurney squandered chances in the next and Price took full advantage to make it 4-2, just one set from victory. But back came Gurney to make it 4-3 and, with Price starting to wilt, it was soon 4-4 to line up a deciding set.
Price fired in a 107 finish to edge ahead, but Gurney topped it with a 130 finish in the next leg. A double-10 finish then took Price one leg from victory, but Gurney held his nerve to take the match to a deciding leg.
Both men were feeling the heat but it was the Iceman who finally secured a scrappy leg with double top.
Gurney said: “We’ve had some great battles in the past and we’ll have more in the future.”
Price will face Bunting in tonight’s semi-finals after the Englishman’s 5-3 win over Krzysztof Ratajski on the Polish Eagle’s 44th birthday.
Bunting, who reached the quarter-finals in 2015 and tested positive for Covid earlier this season, said: “Getting to the semi-finals of the biggest tournament in the world is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’d love to win it.”
In Saturday night’s other semi-final, shock troop Chisnall’s reward for downing tournament favourite Van Gerwen will take on two-time champion Gary Anderson, who beat Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode 5-1.