The league phase of 2020 Premier League Darts enters its final straight on Wednesday as the action resumes in Milton…
The league phase of 2020 Premier League Darts enters its final straight on Wednesday as the action resumes in Milton Keynes.
Following a two-day break, the elite eight return to the stage at the Marshall Arena with all eyes on the play-off race.
A finely-poised league table sees just three points separate second to sixth as the quest to secure a top four spot and reach October’s play-offs intensifies.
Glen Durrant is all but assured of a place in the Semi-Finals and could mathematically seal the deal with a win over Michael Smith in the opening match of the night.
Durrant has enjoyed a remarkable debut campaign which has seen him lose just one of his opening 12 games, coasting four points clear at the top of the table.
Eight games unbeaten, ‘Duzza’ would break the record Premier League points tally of 26 and scoop the £25,000 league winner’s bonus if he was to win his four remaining games.
The three-time BDO World Champion has averaged over 100 in four of his last six matches and is eyeing a third straight televised victory over ‘Bully Boy’, following his successes in the 2019 Grand Slam Quarter-Finals and this reverse fixture back in February.
Back-to-back defeats have seen Smith slip to seventh spot, two points adrift of the top four, and with work to do if he is to remain on his rivals’ coattails.
Smith has hit more 180s (52) than any other player in the competition but has been left to rue costly missed doubles of late, including several in his two last-leg defeats to Nathan Aspinall.
Defending champion Michael van Gerwen roared back to winning ways with victory over Smith on Sunday and now aims to pick up from where he left off as he takes on reigning World Champion Peter Wright.
Van Gerwen had lost three of his last four fixtures prior to his show-down with Smith, leaving his hopes of finishing top of the table for an eighth consecutive season hanging in the balance.
The world number one, who occupies third spot, is five points adrift of league leader Durrant and knows he cannot afford any further slip-ups and must rely on the Teessider to falter at the finish if he is to maintain his proud record.
The Dutch superstar boasts a crushing head-to-head record over Wright, having won 62 and drawn two of their 82 previous meetings, including the 2017 Premier League final in which ‘Snakebite’ squandered six match darts.
Wright exacted his revenge on the sport’s ultimate stage on New Year’s Day this year to win his first world title, though MVG has gone on to win their three encounters since.
Wright has established himself as somewhat of a nine-dart merchant in Milton Keynes, having twice missed double 12 for the perfect leg, sandwiched between achieving the feat for the first time on television against Daryl Gurney.
The nine-darter, however, proved bittersweet as Wright went on to lose that match, one of three defeats in a row that have left him in sixth spot and in need of a positive result to stop the rot.
Gurney is effectively playing for pride at the foot of the table but could still have a say in the race for the top four, starting with a clash against Gary Anderson.
Gurney, who went six games without a win before escaping elimination on Judgement Night, finds himself five points adrift of the play-offs and facing a huge uphill task if he is to make finals night for the second year running.
The Northern Irishman has, however, won three of his last six games, and will look to pile the pressure on two-time champion Anderson, who still harbours aspirations of finishing top.
Anderson sits in second spot, four points adrift of Durrant, having lost just one of his last seven Premier League matches.
Last month’s World Matchplay runner-up appears in a relaxed and focused mindset in Milton Keynes and is potentially just two wins away from securing a play-off place once again.
The final match of the night sees back-to-back Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price take on 2019 UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall.
Aspinall came out on top 7-4 when the pair met last week but has fluctuated in and out of the top four since and starts this week in fifth position, trailing Price only by legs difference.
Aspinall’s last five fixtures have each gone to either a 12th or 14th and final leg, with missed doubles proving costly on occasions, though he remains firmly in contention to make it to finals night in his debut campaign.
Price, meanwhile, has turned his fortunes around after a rocky start prior to the enforced break in play, winning four of his last five games.
The passionate Welshman, making his third appearance in the competition, is bidding to reach the play-offs for the first time, having missed out by a point last season.
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 13 – Wednesday September 2
7.15pm Glen Durrant v Michael Smith
8.00pm Daryl Gurney v Gary Anderson
8.45pm Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
9.30pm Gerwyn Price v Nathan Aspinall