Gerwyn Price talks UK Open, training with Van Gerwen, life before darts and the infamous Iceman roar
World Champion Gerwyn Price is part of a stacked field for the Ladbrokes UK Open.
The Welshman is 5/1 second-favourite for the win behind Michael van Gerwen, and ahead of the start of the tournament on Friday, Price gave us his thoughts on the competition, his day-to-day life and what it was like to be introduced as champion of the world.
On the Ladbrokes UK Open
I had to pull out of the Super Series last weekend because of a problem I’ve had with my ear and to be honest it’s still not 100%. I’m on stronger antibiotics now though and I’ve got some spray so fingers crossed I’ll be in better shape by Friday.
It’s going to be a lot different to the UK Opens we’re used to seeing purely because of the lack of fans. It’ll just be like any other tournament we’ve had in the last few months behind closed doors which is a massive shame because when it’s in Minehead I absolutely love it.
It’s one of the closest events to Wales so I get a lot of support down there. It’s one of my favourite tournaments – not just because of the support I get there but also the overall atmosphere, the sheer volume of games being played across the different stages in different rooms. I just love it.
I tend to do quite well in the UK Open as well; I got to the final last year and slipped up against Michael van Gerwen. I’m playing well though; obviously I wasn’t at my best in the Super Series but there’s reasons for that. Hopefully I’ll get back to 100% match fitness before Friday so I can have another good run.
It’s a great format the way the draw is made for this tournament, but to be honest I don’t ever really tend to look at who I might be playing, nor do I have anyone in mind I’d want to play. I just try to go down there and focus on my own game. I know if I’m playing at 100% then nine times out of ten I think I’m going to win.
A day in the life of Gerwyn Price
The alarm is set for half seven every day – my mate who works with me on the properties will meet with me at around 8 o’clock. I’m down there at work pretty much every day. So the alarm’s set for half seven, I’m probably hitting snooze about three or four times, then rolling out of bed and off to work.
I’ll be busy on the job for most of the day, then I’ll come back to the house at around half four, have some food and I’ll have an hour and a half on the board.
My life hasn’t really changed that much other than the fact I’m on TV a lot more these days. I’m still the same person though, I still do the same amount of practice, probably a little bit less now actually because we play so much. So it’s get up, go out to work, come home, eat, play a bit of darts then bed. And repeat!
To be honest sometimes I’m not even at the board for an hour and a half anymore. If I’m throwing for 30 minutes and feeling good, I’ll just put them down. I play that much in competitions now that I don’t need to spend as much time on the practice board. I do take a travel board away with me though wherever I go so if things aren’t going well I can get the board up and get some extra practice in. I try not to do too much of that though.
I basically do the same now as what I did when I first started playing. I’ve never been a big practice player. If I did it’d be with a couple of my mates for three hours, but that’d be once every couple of weeks. Obviously if I’m not playing well I’ll put the time in.
Early on in my career I probably did feel a bit more pressure to get ranking points and qualify for events so I probably would’ve practiced for an extra half an hour a day, but not a lot has changed in my routine to be honest.
I’ll come home from work and have a little practice, then probably look for something to watch on Netflix, maybe nip into my shed and have a knockabout on my snooker table – but yeah we’ll usually just chill out and find a movie to watch and I’m probably falling asleep on the sofa by about half nine.
We watch a bit of anything and everything, really. Lately we’ve been watching a load of films we’ve not seen before. The most recent was this one about a woman who could hear blokes’ thoughts – I forget what it was called (What Men Want) – but that’s on Netflix and that was pretty good. That pretty much shows you just how random the kind of stuff is that we tend to watch.
Advice for new players
My advice for anyone just getting into darts would be to try and practice with a partner, someone around the same standard or a little bit better so you’re having some good competition. If you are going to throw for a couple of hours, you’re better off doing it with someone else because it can get boring on your own.
Don’t just play 501 games, either. Play different types of games. I remember when I used to practice with other players before tournaments, a lot of the time it would be with Michael van Gerwen. Who better to put yourself up against in practice than the best player in the world at the time. Once you start beating someone like that in practice, it only gives you confidence in real games because you know you can beat the best.
We’d play games like first to 21 points. Throw a ton, you’ll get a point. throw a 140, get two points, and a 180 gets you three points and another three darts. There’s loads and loads of different games out there to improve yourself, but the best thing I’d say would be to play with someone else.
I wasn’t world number one or world champion when I used to practice with Michael, but it wasn’t like he’d beat me all the time or I’d beat him all the time. We’ve had some good games in practice; he’s smashed me up in practice and I’ve smashed him up at times, but it probably came at a good time for him as much as it did for me. He was struggling a little bit at the time and I was getting better and better so I probably helped him out as well.
The longest time I’ve gone without picking up a dart in the last few years is probably about four weeks last year. That was over lockdown when we didn’t know when we were going to be playing again in the year, I put them down for a few weeks.
The first three darts after four weeks of not playing weren’t great, but to be honest sometimes a break like that can help, because you can’t wait to get going competitively again. So while the first three weren’t brilliant, after 9, 12, 15 darts, everything just comes back to you.
Price on home life
I’ve been with my wife for 18 years now, coming up to 19 years actually. When I was playing rugby I was earning decent money but it wasn’t the best. Bethan was working as well and we were both still young.
There were some tough times. I remember a time when me and Bethan were renting a small property and sometimes we were lending money off her mum and dad for rent so it’s good to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to be in the position we’re in now.
We owe quite a lot to darts and to the PDC, but you can’t just turn up in this sport and expect to win everything. You have to work hard and you have to play well. But there are so many opportunities there with the amount of tournaments on the circuit and I’m thankful I’ve been able to make a decent living. Darts is in a good place right now, and who knows, maybe in five or 10 years it could be even bigger and better.
My oldest daughter is 14 now, she’s had her school report back and everything has come back brilliant so fair play to her. She sets her own alarm and gets up and gets on with things.
But the little one; my wife has some pretty torrid times with her! All she wants is her iPad and to be on that Roblox or whatever it is with her friends. She’s been a nightmare to try and keep under control. Like I said, I’ve been busy with work myself so she’s been looking after the kids and sorting out the schoolwork, so fair play to her.
The infamous Iceman roar
I think the roar first came around in my first TV event, or possibly a European event. I feel like it’s something I’ve done forever. It’s something I can’t ever remember not doing, now. It’s just normal. I’m not saying I’m waking up the kids doing it!
It’s not something I just do in darts though; if I’m having a game of snooker with the girls I’ll bring out the roar – and before lockdown whenever the lads came to my house for a game of cards, I’d do it then as well. It doesn’t have to just be darts; it’s whatever competitive game I’m playing. It comes out every time. It’s just a bit of fun really.
The origin of the nickname
Right back when I first started playing it was my mate John who still travels around with me now, he just came up with it, it had a nice ring to it. Iceman, Price, I was looking for a nickname because I’d just got my tour card and he thought of that, then he chose the music – I think he wants some sort of royalties for it all – a percentage of my earnings or something – I keep telling him no way.
If I could have someone else’s walk-on music I reckon it might be Michael Smith’s; I like his. Nathan Aspinall’s is alright, too. Daryl Gurney as well, when he doesn’t milk it, that’s a good one. There’s some great ones out there, but out of all of them I’d say Michael Smith’s.
On John McDonald introducing him as champion of the world
It’s a great achievement for me to have won the worlds and there was a nice buzz to come out to John McDonald introducing me as champion of the world and I was looking forward to it in the week leading up to the Masters. I just wish there could have been a crowd there. If I ever get to win the worlds again at least there’ll be fans there to experience it all with.
It’ll be extra special when he’s introducing me as that in front of a packed crowd. The first Premier League night was supposed to have been in Cardiff – what an amazing feeling that would’ve been for me to be called out as the world champ.
The morning after the night of the World Championship final I was up quite early, actually. I think it was around half eight I was doing interviews. It was a hectic morning of interviews and then I had the three hour drive home where it just started to sink in a little bit.
But I still don’t think it’s really sunk in, even now – just because of the circumstances. I’ve not been able to do anything, I’ve not been able to take the trophy out to show it off and celebrate with my mates. Until the doors open to the pubs and I can start doing exhibitions, I think that’s when it will start to sink in for me.
On Jonny Clayton and ones to watch this weekend
Fair play to Jonny (Clayton), he’s been in great form this year. To reach three finals over the weekend takes some doing.
Wales is in such a good place at the moment for darts. Jonny is playing fantastically well, Nick Kenny is as well. Jon Worsley’s got his tour card back, and obviously Lewis Williams as well – he beat Michael van Gerwen last week. So there are five of us who are flying the flag at the moment for Wales.
But going back to Jonny, he’s flying at the moment. Hopefully if he comes up against me this weekend he loses some of that form!
Raymond van Barneveld is back and full of confidence after a year away so whoever he draws is going to be in for a tough time of things. He’s looking dangerous.
Joe Cullen is looking fantastic, too. He’s played some great darts this year, as is Jonny Clayton in terms of ones to watch this weekend. Jonny is the most in-form player on the circuit right now he’s the one to beat.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.