Premier League Darts heads to the Emerald Isle for Night Four of competition on Thursday as Dublin hosts another set…
Premier League Darts heads to the Emerald Isle for Night Four of competition on Thursday as Dublin hosts another set of fascinating fixtures.
The 2020 Unibet Premier League is already shaping up to be one of the most closely-matched editions since the tournament began in 2005, with just two points separating top to eighth.
No player boasts a 100 per cent record after just three weeks of competition, while this season’s two debutants occupy top four places after adapting quickly to the elite round-robin event.
Glen Durrant leads the way with five points from a possible six and looks to continue his superb start by overcoming fellow newcomer Nathan Aspinall.
Durrant’s only dropped point came against Challenger Fallon Sherrock in Nottingham, with that 6-6 draw sandwiched between impressive wins over Michael Smith and Gary Anderson.
The three-time BDO World Champion broke into the world’s top 20 for the first time over the weekend and will be brimming with confidence heading into a closely-matched meeting with the world number eight.
Surprisingly, Durrant has the second lowest tournament average (94.82) of the nine-man field and will look to go through the gears against an opponent capable of beating the very best.
Aspinall underlined his Premier League calibre by defeating reigning champion Michael van Gerwen 7-5 in Cardiff last week to bounce back from his defeat by the same scoreline to Rob Cross in his previous outing.
The Stockport star would leapfrog Durrant in the table with victory here and will look to step up the preparations for next week’s UK Open title defence in the best possible fashion.
Irish eyes will be smiling when William O’Connor steps out onto the Premier League stage for the first time to take on none other than defending champion Van Gerwen.
O’Connor has been rewarded for a landmark 2019 which saw him reach the World Cup of Darts final alongside Steve Lennon, as well as pick up a Players Championship title and reach the Quarter-Finals of the Players Championship Finals.
The world number 37 is aiming to become the first Contender/Challenger to beat a Premier League player, but the task does not come much harder than the world number one – for whom successive Premier League defeats are few and far between.
O’Connor will be roared on by a partisan 10,000-strong crowd at the 3Arena and knows he has what it takes to topple MVG on a stage, having done so at the 2018 Dutch Championship in his opponent’s own back yard.
Van Gerwen was held to a draw by John Henderson in Aberdeen last year but will be determined not to drop points this time around as he looks to atone for last week’s rare slip-up.
For the first time since 2011, Van Gerwen has not claimed a title in the first two months of the season, but two ProTour finals and a tournament average of 102 in the Premier League suggest his best form may be just around the corner.
Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney makes the trip across the border in search of crucial points as he faces Masters finalist Michael Smith.
Gurney props up the pile with just one point to show from his opening three matches and knows he can ill-afford another slip-up if he is to avoid becoming cut adrift of the top four and embroiled in a battle for survival.
The two-time major champion won both of their Premier League meetings last season, though Smith came out on top in both the UK Open and Grand Slam.
Smith sprung to life with a clinical display to thrash Welsh Challenger Jonny Clayton 7-1 last week as he averaged 105 to end a ten-match winless run in the Premier League.
Since then, he suffered successive First Round exits on the ProTour but will look to put those setbacks to one side and thrive on the big stage once again.
Two of the five players locked on three points go head-to-head in their first televised meeting since the 2018 US Masters final as Gary Anderson takes on Rob Cross.
A change of darts appeared to backfire on Anderson last week as he went down 7-4 to Durrant to mark his first defeat of the campaign.
Prior to that, the World Cup of Darts winner had beaten Gurney and drawn with Peter Wright, as well as claiming a Players Championship title at the first time of asking.
Cross also suffered his first defeat of the tournament in Cardiff, averaging just 90 in a 7-5 loss to Wright, and will be keen to bounce back from that below-par showing at the first available opportunity.
The final match of the night sees reigning World Champion Wright take on reigning Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price.
The two in-form stars have developed a healthy rivalry of their own in recent months, stemming from a firey Semi-Final show-down at the World Championship.
A dress rehearsal for this fixture saw the duo collide in Saturday’s Players Championship final, with Wright coming out on top after a series of scintillating displays throughout the day, before Price took the title 24 hours later.
Wright has won 15 and drawn one of their 21 previous meetings and everything points towards this being another gripping, close-run encounter.
The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 12 legs.
Premier League Darts 2020 Match Schedule
Night Four – Thursday February 27
7.15pm Glen Durrant v Nathan Aspinall
8.00pm Rob Cross v Gary Anderson
8.45pm Daryl Gurney v Michael Smith
9.30pm William O’Connor v Michael van Gerwen
10.15pm Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright