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World Darts Championship: Gerwyn Price threatens to walk away

Former world champion Gerywn Price admits he is unsure whether he'll play again in the PDC World Darts Championship following his 5-1 demolition by German Gabriel Clemens in the semi-final at Alexandra Palace on New Year's Day.

The Welshman, who has become one of the sport's most colourful characters since his emergence in 2014, was facing a usual barrage of boos from the crowd as he sought to reach the semi-finals.

After going 3-1 down in sets, Price walked off stage for the break only to come back on with a large set of ear defenders in order to block out the noise.

He wore them for the duration of the fifth set but ultimately they proved to be ineffective and he finished the game off wearing a set of moulded earplugs.

The 37-year-old was comprehensively beaten by Clemens and his comments on social media straight after prompted questions about his future.

Iceman loses his cool on stage

Prior to the game, it looked to be Price's to lose - he was going into it as a former world champion and multiple major winner, while Clemens was the first player from Germany to ever make the quarter-finals of the world championship. It was also his best run in a major event.

The first set was dominated by Price and he went into the opening interval looking like a man determined to earn his second title and stop a drop in his prize money from two years ago.

However, backed by hundreds of German fans inside Ally Pally, Clemens rallied and Price's scoring and doubling deserted him.

The match was slipping away from him and the bizarre introduction of the ear defenders appeared to signify that his head was scrambled going into the second half of the game.

Price walked off with his tail between his legs - in truth he was probably a beaten man the moment he decided to put the headphones on.

Now he will only start 2023 as high as fourth in the rankings and could drop to fifth if Clemens or Dimitri van den Bergh win the title.

"Not sure" I will play again - Price

The ex-rugby player, known for his exuberant celebrations which have divided fans ever since he became a darting household name, turned to Instagram straight after the loss and posted a message which raised many eyebrows.

He penned: "So frustrating you play all year round preparing for this one tournament. So gutted I wasn't allowed to play but good luck everyone left in.

"Not sure I will ever play in this event again," added the three-time Grand Slam winner.

It remains to be seen how much of a serious threat that is from Price, who has often been emotional in victory or defeat. However, it is the clearest sign yet that he is fed up of the treatment from certain sections of the fanbase.

The crowd at Alexandra Palace has drawn criticism in recent years for being disrespectful towards players, in particular those who are not English, and for generally being ambivalent towards the action on stage.

Price has had to deal with his fair share of comments from crowds in the past but the New Year's Day contest may prove to be a turning point in terms of how both players and venue security may deal with abuse.

What if Price does quit?

Even though the Markham native is a character loved and hated in equal measure, it would be a shocking loss for darts if he were to hang up his arrows.

In 2022 alone, he hit four nine-darters, including two on the same Premier League night in Belfast with the Iceman providing some magical moments in his relatively short career.

He has become the king of Wolverhampton, with three Grand Slam titles, including his first-ever major where he beat Gary Anderson in a hot-tempered affair in 2018.

Price and Jonny Clayton have also forged a formidable Wales team for the World Cup, winning that tournament in 2020 after overcoming an England team consisting of Michael Smith and Rob Cross.

The boo-boys would almost be handed a win on a plate if Price quits and it could encourage them to bully other players out of the sport.

How it can be stopped remains a quandary. Darts has expanded in large part due to the frenzied and raucous alcohol-fuelled atmosphere it is played under. To go back to how it was in the past would chip away at what has made the sport such a great spectacle.

However, it is clear that things cannot stay as they are. And a world champion might be the catalyst for change.

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