The 2021 Premier League Darts season resumes in front of a live crowd for the first time in Milton Keynes…
The 2021 Premier League Darts season resumes in front of a live crowd for the first time in Milton Keynes on Monday.
Up to 1,000 fans will return to a PDC event in the UK for the first time since the opening night of the World Championship last December as the Premier League enters its final straight.
Four nights of round-robin fixtures remain before the top four players in the league table progress to the play-offs on Friday evening to compete for the overall title.
Michael van Gerwen enters the final block of fixtures as league leader, having reeled off three straight wins on his last visit to the Marshall Arena to move two points clear.
Despite being below his brilliant best for much of the campaign so far, the five-time Premier League champion is now odds-on to secure the £25,000 league winner’s bonus for the eighth time in nine years.
Perhaps more importantly, a fourth consecutive win would go some way towards securing his place in Friday’s Semi-Finals, with MVG facing Nathan Aspinall in a clash of the top two.
Aspinall had to settle for a share of the spoils in their previous meeting on Night Five despite a 105.4 average and will be determined to avoid a damaging third straight defeat.
Last year’s runner-up Aspinall had led the table from Nights 9-11 and looked destined for a play-off spot, but back-to-back defeats have left him looking over his shoulder, just one point clear of fifth.
The Asp has spent 11 of the opening 12 nights inside the top four and is looking to equal or better last year’s tally of 19 points which led him to a third place finish.
A potential make-or-break battle at the wrong end of the table sees James Wade take on Peter Wright in the final match of the evening.
Defeat for either player would leave a serious dent in their play-off hopes and could effectively spell the end of the road for Wright with three games remaining.
A miserable run of three straight defeats last time out has left Wright rooted to the foot of the table on nine points, two adrift of Wade in seventh and five adrift of the play-off places.
Wright failed to average above 93 in any of those three losses and has been outside of the top four since the second night of competition.
It remains anyone’s guess as to which darts the 2020 World Champion will put his faith in this time around as he continues to chop and change his setup in pursuit of perfection.
Wade, meanwhile, picked up just one point from the last trio of fixtures but could claw himself firmly back into contention if he can record a league double over the Scot.
The 2009 Premier League champion averaged 105.7 in their last meeting, his best performance of the season to date, and boasts the highest finishing success rate of the field at 51 per cent.
The opening match of the night sees two-time Premier League champion Gary Anderson take on impressive debutant Jonny Clayton.
Anderson revived his hopes of play-off qualification with back-to-back wins prior to the two-week break, moving to within two points of the top four.
The Flying Scotsman, who has reached the play-offs in each of his last six Premier League appearances, will be out to avenge his 7-4 defeat to the Welshman on Night Five.
Anderson has spent the entire 12 nights outside of the top four so far but will look to utilise his vast experience and time his run to perfection in the coming days as he bids to mount a late charge.
In contrast, Clayton spent the opening seven nights inside the top four but has spent four of the last five outside despite three wins from his last four matches.
The reigning Masters champion, however, is adrift only by virtue of legs difference but will be keen to brush up on his finishing, which has dropped to just 36 per cent for the tournament – the lowest of the field.
Two debutants go head-to-head in another crucial top four clash as Jose De Sousa takes on Dimitri van den Bergh.
The duo have each performed superbly in the behind closed doors setup but now face a different test as they look to maintain that form in front of an expectant crowd.
Van den Bergh occupies third spot with 15 points, one clear of De Sousa in fourth, and the pair have served up an incredible 118 maximums between them so far.
De Sousa came out on top 7-3 with a 104.3 average in the reverse fixture and is unbeaten in his last four Premier League matches, while Van den Bergh has won just one of his last four.
Night 13 of Premier League Darts gets under way from 7pm BST, with all matches to be contested over the best of 14 legs. Two points are awarded for a win and one point for a draw.
Premier League Darts 2021 Night 13 Schedule
Monday May 24
7.15pm Jonny Clayton v Gary Anderson
8.00pm Jose de Sousa v Dimitri Van den Bergh
8.45pm Nathan Aspinall v Michael van Gerwen
9.30pm James Wade v Peter Wright