Gerwyn Price
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Sven Mandel

Darts reacts to Gerwyn Price’s headphone-wearing defeat

World no. 1 Gerwyn Price was thrashed 5-1 by Gabriel Clemens in the quarter-final of the World Darts Championship on New Year’s Day. After finding himself 3-1 down, Price put on some ear defenders and swapped to earplugs in the sixth set in order to try and block out the noise of the Alexandra Palace crowd. The Welshman had won the opening set, but Clemens played excellently to win five consecutive sets and book his place in the semi-final.

Besides Clemens’ victory, the biggest talking point of the match was Price’s earwear. The 2021 winner opted to put on some headphones and subsequently some earplugs to try and ignore the raucous 3,000-strong crowd. Price had allegedly been practising using the earplugs to help him to focus, but to do so in such a high-profile tournament is a novelty for the sport.

Initially, the headphones seemed to have worked. When he first stepped up to the oche in the fifth set, Price hit a 180 and cupped his ears to the crowd. It seemed as though Price had made a rousing resurgence to his goading, almost pantomime villain-esque antics, but he soon found himself 4-1 down. In the final set, Price went on to don some earplugs, but it was to no avail. The German took the sixth set in three legs, finishing on double four with three match darts after a nervous-looking Price squandered a checkout of 78.

Former World Championship runner-up Wayne Mardle said that Price’s decision to try and ignore the crowd so publicly “shows there is a bit of frailty there”. With darts being a sport in which millimetres can truly mean the difference between winning and losing, the ability to block out the crowd is paramount. It has become customary for Price to be taunted during the tournament – particularly after his offensive gesture during his victory over Jose de Sousa, for which Sky Sports were forced to apologise – but the lively crowd may have finally got to ‘The Iceman’.

Might ‘The Iceman’ be beginning to crack?

Price later took to Instagram to share his thoughts on the result. “Not sure I will ever play in this event again,” said Price. It is unclear whether said comments were a knee-jerk reaction to the loss rather than an actual statement of intent to never play in the World Championship again. Despite getting to the quarter-final, Price had been far from his best throughout the tournament, with an average of just over 94 before his match with Clemens.

Elsewhere, it was much smoother sailing for Michael van Gerwen — who is now the tournament favourite — after he brushed past Chris Dobey in a 5-0 whitewash. Van Gerwen commented on Price’s actions, saying he would not have done the same, but he still sympathised with his competitor.

“He’s in a tough period so he’s thinking about things,” said Van Gerwen. “He shouldn’t put himself in that position but that’s darts, unfortunately.” Price’s decision may well have had an adverse effect on the crowd, welcoming more chants and jeers. Since the match, pictures of the Welshman have provided a very versatile meme format for spectators of the sport!

Although Price said he did not mind the boos at points during the match, he hoped that the crowd might next just “chill out a little bit and enjoy the darts”. Fans will wait eagerly to see if Price chooses to don ear defenders again in his next match. With frailties in his composure showing at Alexandra Palace, might ‘The Iceman’ be beginning to crack?


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