The second half of the 2021 Premier League Darts season commences in Milton Keynes on Wednesday with four unmissable fixtures….
The second half of the 2021 Premier League Darts season commences in Milton Keynes on Wednesday with four unmissable fixtures.
Ten have become eight following the first nine nights of competition at the Marshall Arena, with defending champion Glen Durrant and Rob Cross having bowed out at the halfway stage.
The focus now switches to the race for the play-offs as the remaining eight bid to book a place on finals night in front of a potential 1,000-strong crowd later this month.
Nathan Aspinall leads the way at the top of the table with 13 points and will look to take another big step towards back-to-back play-off appearances by overcoming 2017 finalist Peter Wright.
Aspinall, last year’s runner-up, is unbeaten in his last seven Premier League matches and is just six points shy of the total which secured him a Semi-Final spot last season.
The former UK Open champion defeated Wright 7-3 with a 105.2 average in the reverse fixture on Night Six and could deal a major blow to the Scot’s own play-off hopes if he can repeat the result.
Wright starts the night in seventh spot, with three wins, three draws and three defeats so far underlining his indifferent start to the competition.
The 2020 World Champion, who has reached the play-offs in only two of his previous seven Premier League appearances, continues to chop and change his setup, suggesting self-doubt over his most effective darts at the present time.
Dimitri van den Bergh is tied for top spot on 13 points and will look to apply the pressure on ‘The Asp’ by overcoming five-time champion Michael van Gerwen.
Van den Bergh has not been outside of the top four since the opening night and has taken seven points from a possible eight in his last four games.
He maintained his red hot run of form by securing a first PDC ranking title at the Super Series in Germany last week following on from a run to the Semi-Finals three days earlier.
The Belgian ace held MVG to a high quality 6-6 draw on Night One last month and has landed 41 maximums so far as well as the tournament high checkout of 164.
Van Gerwen is out to atone for last year’s disappointment of missing out on the play-offs for the first time and remains handily poised in third spot despite being far from at his best on a consistent enough basis.
Now ranked world number three, Van Gerwen returns to Milton Keynes on the back of a below-par Super Series by his standards which saw him fail to progress beyond the Last 16 stage in his four outings.
Van Gerwen was beaten 7-3 by Jonny Clayton before the two-week break, averaging just 91 in the process, and will be determined to start the second half of the campaign strongly in his quest to make a late charge for top spot.
Meanwhile, a must-win game for Gary Anderson sees him take on in-form debutant Jose De Sousa.
Two-time Premier League champion Anderson enters Phase Two bottom of the pile with eight points to his name, but remains only two points adrift of the top four.
The Flying Scotsman, who opted out of the recent Super Series, has picked up just one point from his last three games and knows he must go through the gears if he is to secure a place in the play-offs for the seventh consecutive time.
De Sousa remains on the coattails of the top four with nine points, having lost just one of his last six Premier League fixtures.
The reigning Grand Slam champion enjoyed a fruitful trip to Niedernhausen last week, winning Players Championship Nine before reaching the Quarter-Finals the following day.
Scoring machine De Sousa has registered a staggering 50 maximums in the competition so far and will be out to avenge his 7-5 defeat to Anderson on Night Two.
The opening match of the evening sees 2009 Premier League winner James Wade take on Masters Champion Jonny Clayton.
Wade produced one of his best performances of the season when the pair met on Night Eight, averaging 105.3 in a 7-2 rout despite a 103.2 average from the Welshman.
A run of four wins and a draw from his last six games has seen Wade storm clear of elimination danger and into the top four as he bids for a seventh play-off berth since 2008.
Clayton was an ever-present in the top four for the first six nights, but a run of just one win in his last four has seen him drop to fifth position, beneath Wade by virtue of legs difference.
The Ferret continues to hold down an impressive ton-plus tournament average and will be keen to reclaim a top four spot at the expense of the left-hander.
Night Ten of 2021 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 Ten Schedule
Wednesday May 5
7.15pm Jonny Clayton v James Wade
8.00pm Jose de Sousa v Gary Anderson
8.45pm Dimitri Van den Bergh v Michael van Gerwen
9.30pm Peter Wright v Nathan Aspinall