Premier League Darts continues in Milton Keynes on Tuesday with nine players bidding to register their first win of the…
Premier League Darts continues in Milton Keynes on Tuesday with nine players bidding to register their first win of the campaign.
The tone has been set for perhaps one of the most closely-matched Premier Leagues in recent memory after the opening night produced four draws from five fixtures.
Shockwaves were sent through the tournament following the news of Gerwyn Price’s removal due to a positive Covid test, meaning James Wade was handed an eleventh hour call-up.
Nathan Aspinall was the only player to pick up maximum points on Monday and will look to remain the early pace setter at the top of the table by overcoming Dimitri van den Bergh.
Aspinall, last year’s beaten finalist, brushed aside a below-par Glen Durrant 7-3 in the opening match of the tournament with a 97.6 average and five 180s.
He now faces an opponent he has suffered three straight defeats against in televised competition, with Van den Bergh having prevailed 10-5 in the opening round of the World Matchplay en route to glory last, as well as a group stage and Quarter-Final success in the Grand Slam.
Van den Bergh came into his debut Premier League season with question marks over his form and fitness, having recently undergone an operation on his knee.
However, the Belgian showed signs of the form which led him to World Matchplay glory and the Grand Slam Semi-Finals last season by holding Michael van Gerwen to a 6-6 draw with a 99.5 average and a 164 checkout.
Defending champion Durrant aims to bounce back from his opening night defeat when he faces dangerous debutant Jonny Clayton.
A struggling Durrant averaged just 88 in defeat to ‘The Asp’ and knows he must raise his game significantly in the coming days if he is to avoid becoming embroiled in a relegation battle.
The three-time Lakeside Champion, who finished top of last year’s table, has struggled to recapture the form which led him to glory last October since being struck down with Coronavirus only a matter of days later.
However, a win over the reigning Masters champion would offer a much-needed confidence boost and could provide the perfect platform to kick-start a resurgence.
Clayton set out his stall superbly by recording the highest average of the opening night (105.5) in a 6-6 draw with Peter Wright.
World Cup of Darts winner last year, Clayton’s blistering spell of form on both floor and stage shows no sign of subsiding and he will look to pounce on Duzza’s fragile confidence in a quest to secure his first ever Premier League win.
Arguably the stand-out match of the evening sees five-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen take on 2017 finalist Wright.
Van Gerwen rescued a point thanks to a 101 checkout for a 12-darter in the final leg against Van den Bergh last night, averaging 100 in an encouraging display for the Dutchman.
He will now look to let his darts do the talking again when he faces an opponent with whom he had become locked in a war of words heading into this tournament.
After his victory at Players Championship 8, Wright stated MVG “will not win a TV title this year” – a claim the Dutchman was quick to dismiss.
An immaculate display of finishing from ‘Snakebite’ saw him hit six doubles from six attempts in his draw with Clayton, averaging 101 in the process, and he will be determined to pick up from where he left off.
The opening match of the night sees two-time Premier League champion Gary Anderson take on reigning Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa.
Anderson produced a magnificent 156 checkout in the final leg to snatch a 6-6 draw with Wade but was self-critical over the amount of doubles he missed earlier in the contest.
Anderson, who had reached the play-offs in each of his last six Premier League campaigns, now comes up against an unorthodox opponent who is also renowned for his scoring power.
De Sousa was below his best in his opening salvo, averaging just 91.6, but settled for a share of the spoils with Cross to open his account at the first time of asking.
The Portuguese number one is yet to replicate the consistent form which led him to Grand Slam glory last November but will look to launch his season with a high-profile win over this year’s beaten world finalist.
The final match of the night sees 2009 champion Wade take on 2019 runner-up Cross as both look to build on their solid starts.
Despite minimal preparation time, Wade averaged 98 and landed six 180s in his draw with Anderson, seemingly picking up from where he left off in winning the UK Open.
Cross also landed an impressive six maximums and averaged 96.5 in his opener, suggesting he could prove to be a different proposition to the one which finished bottom on Judgement Night last year.
It was Cross who triumphed 10-8 when the pair met in the 2019 Premier League Semi-Finals, with the pair having shared one win apiece during the round-robin phase.
The action 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 Schedule
Night Two – Tuesday April 6
7.15pm Gary Anderson v Jose de Sousa
8.00pm Jonny Clayton v Glen Durrant
8.45pm Dimitri Van den Bergh v Nathan Aspinall
9.30pm Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
10.15pm James Wade v Rob Cross