PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS: Victorious Wright has to settle for second spot
Peter Wright will head into next Thursday's Betway Premier League play-offs as runner-up in the table, despite having overcome Raymond van Barneveld 7-1 in Aberdeen this evening.
The Mendham ace, who had never previously qualified for the competition-ending showpiece event, was in clinical mood against Van Barneveld, landing 180s in each of the first two legs before an 80 checkout moved him 3-0 up.
Van Barneveld replied on double ten, but Wright posted another 180 as he regained his edge, punished misses from the Dutchman to break again, took out a 14-darter to move 6-1 up and then sealed the win with a 116 finish.
The commanding victory momentarily moved the Scot into top spot, but Michael van Gerwen's subsequent 7-4 triumph over Gary Anderson saw the world number one regain the summit.
Nevertheless, Wright was in positive mood as he prepares to battle it out for the £250,000 first prize at London's O2 Arena.
"I've qualified for the top four for the first time and I'm happy with that," said the 47-year-old, who has finished in fifth place in two of his previous three Premier League campaigns.
"I'm pinching myself thinking that I'm in that top four alongside Phil, Gary and Michael - it's crazy. My form's coming and I've got another week to get it right for The O2.
"It's always hard to beat Barney. He's a tough customer and isn't a five-time World Champion for nothing, but to have that amazing support behind you in Aberdeen makes you want to play."
Sixteen-time world champion Phil Taylor will be Wright's semi-final opponent in a best of 19 legs format, while the other tie sees a quick re-match between Van Gerwen and Anderson.
The victors will then meet in the final, battling it out over the best of 21 legs.