The tussle continues at the top and bottom of the Premier League Darts table on Night Eight as the big…
The tussle continues at the top and bottom of the Premier League Darts table on Night Eight as the big names continue to do battle in Milton Keynes.
Just two points separate the top six players in the league table as the tournament approaches the halfway stage, while the scramble to avoid elimination nears its climax.
Defending champion Glen Durrant became the first casualty of this year’s competition as a seventh straight defeat confirmed his elimination following Judgement Night.
Duzza’s woes continued as he went down 7-4 to Jose De Sousa on Tuesday despite an improved display, and he is now in real danger of departing the Premier League without a point to his name.
The three-time Lakeside Champion is still yet to register a 90+ average and faces a player in desperate need of a win to avert his own elimination fears.
Peter Wright is looking nervously over his shoulder in eighth position, just a point clear of the drop zone, having suffered successive defeats so far this week.
The 2017 finalist, who continues to chop and change his setup on a daily basis, will envisage this as a must-win fixture to ease the pressure going into Judgement Night and keep pace with the top four.
Dimitri van den Bergh is now the outright leader with points to his name and will look to consolidate that position by overcoming two-time champion Gary Anderson.
A repeat of last year’s World Matchplay final sees the Belgian debutant bidding for a third consecutive win to bolster his chances of landing the £25,000 league winner’s bonus next month.
Van den Bergh has registered a whopping 33 maximums across his seven games so far and boasts a tournament average of 99.5, as well as the overall high checkout of 164.
Anderson, meanwhile, held rival Michael van Gerwen to a 6-6 draw on Night Seven, having pinched both points in a final leg shoot-out against Rob Cross on Monday.
The 2011 and 2015 champion remains unhappy with his form despite sitting outside of the play-off places only by virtue of inferior legs difference and will be eyeing a marked improvement against the most in-form player of the pack.
Rob Cross faces a crucial clash in terms of his survival hopes as he opens the evening against last year’s runner-up Nathan Aspinall.
Cross, who finished bottom of the table on Judgement Night last season, enters the contest on the back of three straight defeats which have left him a point adrift of safety.
The former World Champion has averaged 100.5 and 99.9 in consistent displays over the last two nights but missed doubles at crucial times have proved to be his Achilles heel.
Aspinall is in the midst of a five-game unbeaten run and is sitting pretty in second spot as he bids to make the play-offs for the second time in as many attempts.
After averaging 105 in beating Peter Wright on Monday, ‘The Asp’ claimed a share of the spoils against in-form debutant Jonny Clayton and is now assured of a place in the second phase of the competition.
Perhaps the pick of the night’s fixtures sees five-time champion Michael van Gerwen take on man of the moment Jose De Sousa.
Despite a run of just one win in his last four games, Van Gerwen remains well-poised in third spot and will be determined to keep the pressure on league leader Van den Bergh.
The world number two, who finished top of the table in each of his first six Premier League campaigns, has failed to establish the consistency he would demand from himself in this event so far, averaging above 100 in only two of his seven encounters.
The Dutch star has the second lowest checkout success rate of the field so far at 36 percent and knows he can ill-afford to be off the boil against an opponent enjoying a dream debut so far.
Grand Slam champion De Sousa has become the first player to record three straight wins in this year’s Premier League and has stormed clear of the danger zone and into the chasing pack at the right end of the table.
Nine-dart hero in the opening week, De Sousa has continued his staggering scoring power with 36 maximums in seven matches and four ton-plus averages in his last five outings.
Masters champion Jonny Clayton aims to return to winning ways when he takes on UK Open champion James Wade.
Clayton was the early front-runner after Week One but two games without a win have seen him drop to fourth, though he remains just two points off the lead.
The Ferret has been one of the most consistent performers in this Premier League so far and would mathematically seal his spot in the next phase if he can avoid defeat here.
Wade was beaten 7-5 by De Sousa despite a 104 average on Monday but eclipsed that display with an average of 105.7 in a superb 7-4 win over Wright the following evening.
The 2009 Premier League champion has seven points from as many games, having won three of his last four, and would guarantee his safety if can pick up another victory against the Welsh star.
Night Eight of Premier League Darts gets under way from 7pm BST, with all matches to be contested over the best of 12 legs. Two points are awarded for a win and one point for a draw.
Premier League Darts 2021 Night Eight Schedule
Wednesday April 21
7.15pm Rob Cross v Nathan Aspinall
8.00pm Gary Anderson v Dimitri Van den Bergh
8.45pm Michael van Gerwen v Jose de Sousa
9.30pm James Wade v Jonny Clayton
10.15pm Peter Wright v Glen Durrant