Was the Players Championship in Wigan too cold for darts’ ‘Ice Man’?

Credit: PA Images

Rising darts star Luke Littler has notched up his first ranking title in the Players Championship event in Wigan.

But the tournament has proved a little controversial, with a former World Champion withdrawing during the third round complaining of “absolutely pathetic conditions”.

Gerwyn Price did not explain exactly what caused him to drop out so unexpectedly, but a spokesperson from the Professional Darts Corporation said: “We understand he felt the venue was cold”.

At the time he pulled out, Price was trailing 4-2 against Brendan Dolan. Credit: PA Images

It has left people wondering whether Price – who is known as the ‘Ice Man’ – was beginning to freeze.

At the time he pulled out, Price was trailing 4-2 against Brendan Dolan in a best-of-11 encounter. His exit let Dolan through to the next round.

Gerwyn Price complains about conditions at the tournament in Wigan. Credit: Gerwyn Price/Instagram

Joe Williams, a reporter for Darts World, was following the match.

He said: “He wasn’t the only one to complain, Chris Dobey did, who is another top 16 player.

"But walking out of a game halfway through, I feel it’s a bit disrespectful to his opponent.

"In recent times there’s one player, Glen Durrant, I think at the time he pulled out because he was struggling with his own game.

"He’s come out in an interview since and said it’s one of the biggest regrets he's made in his professional career.”

Joe said that the conditions in the playing arena can be massively important at the top level of the sport.

“If the area or the room is quite cold it can affect your throw and affect your rhythm.

"I can understand his anger at the conditions being poor, but walking out of the game midway through is probably not the best way to go about it.”

ITV News contacted Wigan Council, who operate the leisure centre where the tournament was held.  

A spokesperson said: “Darts tournaments are often held at Robin Park and we stay in touch with the tournament organisers throughout. 

"We have received no complaint from the Professional Darts Corporation. As always, we're committed to delivering a high quality venue and look forward to the rest of the tournament taking place as planned.”

Meanwhile Luke ‘The Nuke’ has now notched up his first ranking win, and takes home prize money of £15,000.

He hit the headlines when he rocketed from a relative unknown to a household name by making it to the final of the World Championship last month at the age of just 16.

He beat Ryan Searle 8-7 in the final, averaging 110 and knocking up seven 180s. He is still focussed on the next goal, though.

Speaking after the win he said: “Me and my manager know what I have to do to qualify for the World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix.

"I want to try and qualify for everything, and I’ve just got to play my game. I’m taking it in my stride. It takes huge pressure off me, and now hopefully I can settle and enjoy it.”

Littler was a runner up at the PDC World Darts Championship in January. Credit: PA Images

Joe agrees that Littler is going to continue to rise: “His type of player isn’t the norm. There’s not many players like him. Whatever it is, he’s got it.

"I feel the last player that was like that was Michael Van Gerwen, before that was Phil Taylor then Eric Bristow. I just feel he’s going to go on and dominate the sport.”