Premier League Darts 2019 Night Seven preview and order of play: Big guns battle in Berlin

Jamie Shaw in PDC Darts News 20 Mar 2019
German ace Hopp reacts (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The Premier League makes its second visit to Berlin for Night Seven of competition on Thursday as home hero Max Hopp looks to have a huge say in the relegation battle.

With just three rounds of fixtures before the cut-off for elimination, the scramble for survival intensifies at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, while a congested top half of the table also jostles for position.

Hopp, the number one ranked German, is the seventh of the nine 'Contenders' drafted in to this year's Unibet Premier League to replace the injured Gary Anderson, and looks to raise the roof by defeating rock bottom Raymond van Barneveld.

The 22-year-old has thrived in front of his partisan German fans in recent years, with his breakthrough triumph coming in last year's German Open, while he also reached the Semi-Finals of last October's European Championship in Dortmund.

Now ranked among the world's top 32, 'The Maximiser' is a three-time World Cup of Darts quarter-finalist and relish the prospect of playing in front of his biggest crowd to date in what could potentially prove to be an audition for a permanent place in the Premier League in years to come.

Van Barneveld is already entering last-chance saloon as far as his final Premier League campaign is concerned, having failed to win in his opening six outings.

The 2014 champion has just two points to his name and is three points adrift at the foot of the table, knowing he needs at least four points from a possible six if he is to have any chance of pulling off the great escape in Rotterdam next week.

The popular Dutchman, however, enjoyed a confidence-boosting run to the final of last Sunday's Players Championship event in Wigan and will look to transfer that resurgent form onto the big stage.

Michael van Gerwen looks to mark a return to his best form ahead of the weekend's first European Tour event by overcoming Daryl Gurney.

Van Gerwen moved back to the summit of the table by virtue of legs won against the throw after thrashing Gerwyn Price 7-2 last week despite a modest average of 96 by his standards.

The world number one suffered defeat to Gurney in the final of November's Players Championship Finals, his first defeat in a major ranking final since 2015, and will be determined to exact his revenge.

Gurney enters the evening second from bottom with five points to his name having failed in win in his last three matches.

The Northern Irishman held Peter Wright to a 6-6 draw in Nottingham last week and showed signs of regaining the trademark scoring power which had been lacking in the opening five weeks.

World number two Rob Cross aims to maintain the pressure on Michael van Gerwen in the race for top spot when he comes up against Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price.

Cross is locked level on nine points with MVG and is bidding for his fourth consecutive win to put daylight between himself and those outside the top four.

Cross, who has the highest tournament average (101) thrashed Price 7-1 in last year's Premier League but knows he faces a different animal 12 months on, with the Welshman having already picked up five more points than his entire haul in 2018.

Price starts the night in fifth spot as one of three players tied on seven points having surrendered his unbeaten start at the hands of MVG last week.

A back-to-back ProTour event winner this season, Price will look to dust himself down and recapture the prolific form which has led him to a career-high world ranking of seven.

Third and fourth in the league table lock horns as James Wade takes on Peter Wright in what appears a closely-matched contest.

Wade suffered only his second defeat of the season at the hands of a clinical Mensur Suljovic last week and will look to bounce back and remain on the coattails of the top two.

Wright was held to a stalemate by Gurney despite an average of 103 in Nottingham but has a strong recent record against Wade in this competition, having won their last four Premier League meetings.

Last year's beaten finalist Michael Smith aims to take a huge step towards safety by dispatching Suljovic - who was eliminated in his debut season a year ago.

Smith thrashed a below-par Nathan Aspinall 7-2 in last week's opener to gain only his second win of the campaign and now looks to climb higher than seventh in the table for the first time this season.

Austria's Suljovic, who starts the night one point ahead of 'Bully Boy', has registered ton-plus averages in 50 per cent of his matches in the 2019 Premier League so far and the German-speaking star is sure to receive a strong backing from the 12,000 Berliners.

The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 12 legs, making a 6-6 draw a possibility. Two points are awarded for a win and one for a draw.

Unibet Premier League 2019 Schedule

Night Seven - Thursday March 21

7.15pm Gerwyn Price v Rob Cross
8.00pm James Wade v Peter Wright
8.45pm Michael van Gerwen v Daryl Gurney
9.30pm Michael Smith v Mensur Suljovic
10.15pm Max Hopp v Raymond van Barneveld

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Premier League Darts 2019 Night Seven preview and order of play: Big guns battle in Berlin

The Premier League makes its second visit to Berlin for Night Seven of competition on Thursday as home hero Max Hopp looks to have a huge say in the relegation battle.

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