The scramble to secure places in the 2020 Premier League Darts play-offs is set for more twists and turns on…
The scramble to secure places in the 2020 Premier League Darts play-offs is set for more twists and turns on the penultimate night of fixtures on Friday.
Just two nights of action remain before the top four players in the league table will progress to compete for the title on finals night at The O2 next month.
Going into Night 15, just two points separate third from sixth, with only Glen Durrant having already secured his Semi-Final spot so far.
Gary Anderson has one foot in the play-offs and will look to mathematically seal the deal by avoiding defeat to rival Michael van Gerwen in the stand-out match of the night.
No player has ever failed to reach the play-offs on 19 points and two-time champion Anderson is sitting pretty on that tally, four points clear of MVG in fifth and with a legs difference 13 better off.
World Matchplay runner-up last month, The Flying Scotsman has produced his brilliant best in Milton Keynes once again, claiming 11 points from his last possible 12 to apply the pressure on Durrant at the top of the table.
Anderson averaged 102 in an 8-2 demolition of Michael Smith on Thursday to close the gap at the top to just two points, and is now aiming to do the double over Van Gerwen following a 7-4 success at the same venue last week.
In contrast, Van Gerwen has endured a nightmare Premier League campaign by his standards, which has seen his seven-year spell as league winner come to an end with two games to spare.
The reigning and five-time champion now has a fight on his hands if he is to retain his record of having made the final of every Premier League he has featured in, starting the night outside of the top four.
The world number one has won just two of his last seven games and was dealt a further blow last night when he missed two match darts from 7-5 up before being held to a draw by Durrant.
Van Gerwen, who switched to an alternative set of darts on Thursday, knows he can ill-afford to make any more mistakes if he is to salvage a top four spot and keep his title defence alive.
Nathan Aspinall is the man who occupies fourth spot heading into the night and will look to consolidate that position and pile the pressure on MVG with victory over Daryl Gurney in the opening match of the night.
Aspinall has enjoyed a superb debut season in the Premier League, underlining his place among the sport’s elite, and knows destiny remains in his own hands with a superior legs difference over MVG.
Aspinall was beaten 8-5 by Peter Wright on Thursday but will be determined to maintain the trend of having not lost back-to-back games throughout the campaign so far.
Gurney, meanwhile, is playing for pride as he looks to avoid finishing bottom of the table in the second phase of the competition.
The Northern Irishman closed the gap to three points courtesy of a hard-fought draw with Gerwyn Price last night and will be playing without pressure in his quest to spoil the party.
League leader Durrant has the potential to clinch top spot and the £25,000 bonus with a game to spare if he can better Gary Anderson’s result.
As well as a two-point cushion, Durrant’s leg difference of +27 to Anderson’s +13 could prove decisive, with a win for the Teessider over Wright all but wrapping up the league phase.
A sensational debut campaign for ‘Duzza’ has seen him lose just one of his 14 fixtures so far, going ten games unbeaten and digging deep to rescue crucial points from losing positions.
That was in further evidence on Thursday as he survived two match darts from MVG to salvage a share of the spoils, having done so from 7-2 down against Smith the previous evening.
The Premier League is guaranteed only its third different table topper since 2005, and Durrant will be determined to close out the job and head into the play-offs on the ultimate high.
Wright, though, has a major incentive of his own, knowing that a win could seal his spot in the play-offs depending on results elsewhere.
The reigning World Champion has recovered from three straight defeats with back-to-back wins, averaging 105 in an 8-1 rout of Van Gerwen before averaging 103 in overcoming Aspinall.
Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith enter last chance saloon in final match of the night as they vie to keep their fading play-off hopes alive.
Smith has slipped to second from bottom in the table and must win both of his remaining games and rely on other results to go his way if he is to gatecrash finals night.
The 2018 finalist has gone four games without a win, missing crucial doubles on numerous occasions and will enter the contest with a least pressure of the two players.
Price remains just a point outside of the top four, and with a legs difference of +10, is still a key contender in the play-off pursuit.
The Grand Slam champion has taken just one point from his last two games, and with Anderson to face on Saturday, will be eyeing nothing less than a victory here.
The action gets underway from 7pm BST, with all matches to be contested over the best of 14 legs.
Premier League Darts 2020 Match Schedule
Night 15 – Friday September 4
7.15pm Daryl Gurney v Nathan Aspinall
8.00pm Glen Durrant v Peter Wright
8.45pm Gary Anderson v Michael van Gerwen
9.30pm Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price