Nathan Aspinall, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson secured places in the 2020 Premier League Play-Offs on Saturday, as Michael van…
Nathan Aspinall, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson secured places in the 2020 Premier League Play-Offs on Saturday, as Michael van Gerwen missed out on the top four for the first time.
The 16th and final night of the league phase saw the last four matches of a unique season take place, with five players vying for the three remaining qualifying places.
Glen Durrant was the only player to have already secured his place at The O2 going into the final night, but ‘Duzza’ had further cause for celebration after clinching top spot and the £25,000 bonus.
However, Durrant ended the league phase with only a third defeat as he went down 8-2 to a rampant Aspinall, who joined the Teessider in the top four in his debut campaign.
After other results had gone in his favour earlier in the night, Aspinall knew a draw would be enough to seal a top four place, and after winning his seventh leg – taking out 124 on the bull to follow an earlier 170 checkout – the former UK Open champion released an outpouring of emotion.
“What a feeling – I can’t explain how proud of myself I am and how happy I am,” said Aspinall, two years to the day since winning his first PDC title.
“I’ve put the whole family through the ringer the last few weeks but to achieve this, I’m so proud of myself.
“I was getting very excited on stage, I hope Glen understood that my emotions were running high tonight. It means so much to me.
“Now I want to win the Premier League and I think I’m ready to do it.”
Durrant becomes only the third player in the tournament’s 15-year history – behind Phil Taylor and Van Gerwen – to top the league table, ending on 21 points.
Peter Wright will also return to finals night for the first time since 2017, though his qualification was already guaranteed prior to his meeting with Michael Smith.
The World Champion’s fate was sealed after five-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen’s crushing 8-2 defeat to Daryl Gurney saw him crash out.
Van Gerwen, who has topped the league phase every year since his 2013 debut, suffered a disappointing end to a difficult campaign.
Heading into the game, Van Gerwen knew he needed at least a point to keep his top four hopes alive, but Gurney showed no mercy as he raced into a 6-0 lead.
The world number one was made to pay for his 11 missed double attempts and was unable to find anywhere near his best form to mount a comeback.
Gurney’s victory meant Wright was already assured of his place in the top four, but the World Champion ended the regular season with an 8-5 win over Smith.
“I just wanted to win and finish second, and I didn’t know what the situation was if I got a draw,” said Wright. “I’m happy with the result but it was always going to be difficult.
“I was fifth when the Premier League started again and your target is to finish in the top four so I’ve done that – but the job’s not done yet and I want to win the trophy now.
“I’ll be glad to get home now and I’ve got time before the finals, and I’ll be fresh for that.”
Despite going down 8-3 to rival Gerwyn Price, Anderson’s hopes of a third Premier League title remain alive.
A repeat of the 2018 Grand Slam final saw Price average 107.7 as he took full advantage of a below-par Anderson, who appeared to be struggling throughout with an arm problem.
However, results elsewhere meant Anderson took the fourth qualifying place, while Price ended just the wrong side of the cut-off in fifth.
Van Gerwen ended the campaign in the unfamiliar position of sixth in the standings, ahead of Smith and Gurney.
Northern Ireland’s Gurney had escaped elimination on Judgement Night as he revived his season in Milton Keynes, and said: “I’m glad I got the two points tonight because I wanted to get to double figures.
“I’ve enjoyed the season but I blew a lot of chances. For this last two weeks I’ve enjoyed the pressure of sharing that practice room with the best players in the world.
“Even though I finished bottom, I’ve loved every minute and it’s my own fault that I’ve not finished in a higher position.
“It’s my third Premier League, I’ve probably enjoyed it more than the previous two years and I want to be here next year.”
Premier League Darts 2020 Results
Night 16 – Saturday September 5
Gerwyn Price 8-3 Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen 2-8 Daryl Gurney
Peter Wright 8-5 Michael Smith
Nathan Aspinall 8-2 Glen Durrant