Michael van Gerwen and Nathan Aspinall will battle it out for BoyleSports World Grand Prix glory in what promises to be a thrilling final at the Morningside Arena in Leicester on Sunday.
Van Gerwen is eyeing his sixth double-start title – a decade on from his maiden PDC televised triumph at the World Grand Prix in 2012 – the catalyst for his remarkable era of domination.
Meanwhile, Aspinall is bidding to claim his third TV crown, having fought back magnificently from a career-threatening wrist injury over the last 12 months.
Van Gerwen goes into Sunday’s showpiece as a 3/10 favourite with sponsors BoyleSports, and having already claimed Premier League and World Matchplay titles earlier this year, the Dutchman is eyeing more silverware in Leicester.
The 33-year-old breezed past two-time World Champion Gary Anderson in his opener, and after denying Stephen Bunting in a fifth-set decider, he produced a scintillating 99 average to dispatch Chris Dobey in the last eight.
This set up a semi-final showdown against World Champion Peter Wright, and Van Gerwen was in merciless mood, dropping just one leg to demolish a below-par Wright 4-0.
“People can question whatever they want, but I won the World Matchplay, I won the Premier League. I’m not playing my best, but I can still smash them,” declared Van Gerwen.
“That is nice, that feels good for me. It gives me energy and makes me even more hungry.
“I am starting to do some great damage again. When I start to do that, they know what they have to do to beat me, and that’s not going to be easy for them.
“I feel comfortable, so I just need to keep these performances going.”
However, Van Gerwen is expecting a tough test against a resurgent Aspinall, in a repeat of the pair’s dramatic quarter-final clash at July’s World Matchplay.
The three-time World Champion stormed into an 11-4 lead until Aspinall threatened a famous fightback, before Van Gerwen eventually closed out a 16-14 success en route to lifting the Phil Taylor Trophy.
“Nathan is a fighter. He never gives up and that’s what I admire about about him,” added Van Gerwen, who is aiming to lift his 61st televised title on Sunday.
“He could have easily lost against Gezzy [Price], but he has the character to produce a good game against a player of Gerwyn’s calibre in a big semi-final.
“I know what I have to do to beat Nathan. I have to be sharp, I have to focus myself and I’m going to do exactly that tonight.”
Aspinall struggled to hold back the tears after defeating Gerwyn Price 4-2 in Saturday’s opening semi-final, which saw Price relinquish his world number status to Wright.
Aspinall feared for his future in the sport after suffering a serious wrist injury in 2021, but after taking some time away to recuperate in January, he has since enjoyed a magnificent revival.
The 31-year-old has scooped a brace of ProTour titles to top the Players Championship Order of Merit, and his run to Sunday’s final also ensures his qualification for next month’s Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts.
"To be in the BoyleSports World Grand Prix final, I'm absolutely on cloud nine,” said the Stockport star, a 5/2 outsider for the title.
“I wondered if I would even win games again. When I started practising again after my injury, you wouldn’t have believed how bad my throw was. I was in so much pain. It was horrific.
“I’ve had to work so hard to get back to this standard, and that’s why you saw the emotion last night. I’m so proud of myself, I’m back in the final of a major and I’m buzzing."
The former UK Open champion has beaten three of the world’s top ten to secure a place in his first televised final since October 2020, overcoming Michael Smith, Danny Noppert and Martin Lukeman earlier in the week.
Aspinall fought back from 2-0 down to stun Noppert in round two, and after also going the distance against fourth seed Smith and debutant Lukeman, he is prepared for another battle against the irrepressible Van Gerwen.
“I want to be with the big boys. I believe I am a big player,” insisted Aspinall, who will rise to world number seven if he claims the £120,000 top prize.
“I think I’ve proved it this week, beating the world number one, the world number four and the world number nine.
“I want to be in the Premier League, I want to be in the World Series, I want to travel the world. I love my job, I live and breathe darts.
“I have not played anywhere near to the level I am capable of, but I love proving people wrong and if I can win this title, it would be another amazing moment in my career.”
The tournament is being broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).
Sunday October 9 (1930 BST)
Nathan Aspinall v Michael van Gerwen
Best of nine sets