The Grinch does not flinch: Peter Wright makes winning start to title defence

Jonathan Veal, PA
·2-min read

Peter Wright came dressed as the Grinch and stole Steve West’s Alexandra Palace dream as his World Championship defence got off to a winning start.

The Scot had vowed to put on a show in what will be the only day of the sport’s flagship tournament that is played in front of a crowd and he lived up to his word in traditionally eccentric style.

He was in his element, kitting out in a bright green outfit in homage to the Christmas character, complete with matching beard, mohawk and flights.

The 2020 champion might have come dressed for a party but he meant business, taking West out 3-1 at the Alexandra Palace.

He surged into a 2-0 lead before West, who had already beaten Amit Gilitwala in the first round earlier in the evening, threatened a comeback by taking the third set on Wright’s throw.

But the 50-year-old, who has been playing with a rib injury, regained his composure and hit straight back, fittingly winning with a double 10 – just as he did in the 2020 final on New Year’s Day.

“Cheer up everyone, it’s Christmas!” Wright said on Sky Sports. “The two darts were near enough exactly the same.

“When I hit the first one I thought, ‘This is exactly like to win it’.

“Steve didn’t play his game like he can. It is hard when you have already played, he has been here hours and hours before me in preparation for his game. I got away with it. I have got stuff to work on.”

Wright, who admitted before the tournament that he had been “miserable” playing in behind closed doors events, will now not play again until after Christmas, much to his dismay.

“I am annoyed I am not playing before Christmas, I wanted to wear another Christmas outfit.”

Steve Beaton’s 30th successive appearance at the World Championships ended on the first night as he was surprisingly beaten 3-0 by Diogo Portela in the first round, while Jeff Smith beat Keane Barry 3-1.