Clayton claims fairy-tale debut Premier League Darts title

Jonny Clayton pulled off a sensational debut triumph to be crowned 2021 Premier League champion after victory over Jose De Sousa in the final.

Four months on from his maiden televised singles title at The Masters which earned him a Premier League spot, Clayton enjoyed another unforgetable success as he scooped the sport’s most prestigious invitational trophy.

The Welshman, who had edged fourth spot in the table, began the night by defeating Michael van Gerwen 10-8 in the Semi-Finals before dismantling De Sousa 11-5 in the final to clinch the £250,000 top prize.

Clayton becomes only the seventh different player to win the Premier League since it began back in 2005 and is the first Welsh winner.

“I’ve put Wales on the map again and it’s just so incredible to be here and win this event,” said an emotional Clayton.

“We’re so lucky to have been playing over what has been such a difficult time for everyone.

“Jose is such a great player and I just tried to keep my cool and get over the line, I’m just so happy.

“To be a name in the Premier League is fantastic but to win it is a dream come true.”

Clayton had snatched the fourth Play-Off place 24 hours earlier with victory over Dimitri van den Bergh and seemingly picked up from where he left off as he ended Van Gerwen’s hopes of a record-equalling sixth title.

The Ferret averaged 103.2 and converted 62.5 per cent of his double attempts as he came from 7-6 down to defeat the Dutchman 10-8.

The final was contested by two Premier League debutants for a second successive year as Clayton faced De Sousa – who had defeated Nathan Aspinall in a last-leg decider in the second Semi-Final.

Clayton took the early initiative, finishing 121 on the bull before breaking the De Sousa throw and consolidating with a hold to take a 3-1 lead.

The pair then traded legs before Clayton was able to break again in the seventh leg to move 5-2 in front with a 13-darter.

That seemingly inspired the Portuguese star, who regained one of the breaks immediately after a ten-dart leg to grab himself a lifeline.

With the score at 6-4, Grand Slam champion De Sousa missed four darts at a double to close the gap to one before Clayton took his opportunity and pinned double 12 to edge ever-closer to glory.

De Sousa broke back immediately as he reduced the deficit to 7-5 but time was running out for the 47-year-old and Clayton strung together a run of four consecutive legs to storm over the line.

De Sousa had finished second in the league table and held his nerve to edge past Aspinall 10-9 with a 98.2 average and eight 180s – taking his tally for the tournament to a record-breaking 96.

“I proved again that I am ‘The Special One’,” said De Sousa. “This crowd is so amazing and I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported us.

“It was a tough final and well done to Jonny for becoming the champion, he deserves this.

“To make the final is insane, this shows to everyone that I am one of the best players in the world and I hope to be back in the Premier League next year.”

Earlier in the night, Masters champion Clayton ended Van Gerwen’s hopes of winning a sixth Premier League title with a pulsating 10-8 semi-final victory, averaging 103 and coming from 8-7 down to book a spot in the final.

Van Gerwen had finished top of the table for an eighth time in nine years, but admitted that defeat for the first time in a Premier League Semi-Final was a huge blow.

“I have to take this on the chin,” he told RTL7. “I’m on my way back now but there’s still hard work to do.

“Jonny played really great. I wasn’t consistent enough, he punished me at the right moments. I shouldn’t have put him in that position – I gave him the confidence and a great feeling.”

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Premier League Darts 2021 Results

Play-Offs – Friday May 28

Semi-Finals
Michael van Gerwen 8-10 Jonny Clayton
Jose De Sousa 10-9 Nathan Aspinall

Final
Jonny Clayton 11-5 Jose De Sousa

Premier League Darts Play-Offs 2021: How the final four compare

The 2021 Premier League Darts campaign draws to a close in Milton Keynes on Friday and we take a look at how the final four compare.

Sixteen nights of fierce competition culminate in a straight knock-out as the remaining quartet vie to claim the sport’s most prestigious invitational title and £250,000 in prize money.

Ten players started out at the Marshall Arena last month, now a multiple champion, a former finalist and two debutants remain in the running for glory.

Only six different players have managed to get their hands on this trophy since the Premier League was launched back in 2005 and history beckons for this year’s final four.

Michael van Gerwen is bidding to equal Phil Taylor’s record of six Premier League titles by reclaiming the crown he surrendered last year.

Van Gerwen secured top spot in the league table for the eighth time in nine seasons and is out to maintain his emphatic unbeaten record in Premier League Semi-Finals.

Jonny Clayton has enjoyed a dream Premier League debut, hitting a nine-darter and going on to secure fourth spot on Night 16 courtesy of an 8-6 win over Dimitri van den Bergh in their decisive shoot-out.

Clayton is guaranteed a minimum of £80,000 in prize money, the biggest paycheque of his career to date, and is out in search of a third televised title in the space of nine months.

The second Semi-Final sees last year’s runner-up Nathan Aspinall take on man of the moment Jose De Sousa for the second successive evening.

Thursday’s dress rehearsal saw De Sousa storm to an 8-3 victory with a 103.2 average to finish above Aspinall in the table, landing a spectacular 120 checkout with three double tops along the way.

The Portuguese ace is now closing in on a second major title in the space of six months as he aims to follow up last November’s Grand Slam triumph.

De Sousa has already enjoyed a record-breaking debut campaign, registering a staggering 81 maximums in 16 matches, and has lost just one of his last eight games.

Aspinall, meanwhile, is looking to atone for last year’s final heartbreak by going one better at the second time of asking.

Aspinall spent 15 of the 16 league nights inside the top four and was eight games unbeaten at one stage; he now finds himself in a sixth televised Semi-Final since 2019.

WATCH PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS PLAY-OFFS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Premier League Darts 2021 Stats

Tournament Averages

Jose De Sousa 99.78
Jonny Clayton 99.21
Michael van Gerwen 98.50
Nathan Aspinall 97.30

Total 180s

Jose De Sousa 81
Nathan Aspinall 59
Jonny Clayton 50
Michael van Gerwen 39

Finishing Percentages

Nathan Aspinall 43.10%
Jose De Sousa 42.80%
Michael van Gerwen 41.53%
Jonny Clayton 38.46%

Highest Checkout

Nathan Aspinall 161
Jonny Clayton 150
Michael van Gerwen 148
Jose De Sousa 141

Darts Thrown

Nathan Aspinall 2727
Jose De Sousa 2639
Jonny Clayton 2599
Michael van Gerwen 2569

Total Match Time

Jose De Sousa: 7:00:10
Nathan Aspinall: 6:26:40
Jonny Clayton: 6:08:47
Michael van Gerwen: 5:41:57

Premier League Darts 2021 Play-Offs preview and order of play: Final four compete for glory

The final four face off for the right to be crowned 2021 Premier League Darts champion in Milton Keynes on Friday.

Sixteen nights of fierce competition culminate in a straight knock-out as the remaining quartet vie to claim the sport’s most prestigious invitational title and £250,000 in prize money.

Ten players started out at the Marshall Arena last month, now a multiple champion, a former finalist and two debutants remain in the running for glory.

Only six different players have managed to get their hands on this trophy since the Premier League was launched back in 2005 and history beckons for this year’s final four.

Michael van Gerwen is bidding to equal Phil Taylor’s record of six Premier League titles by reclaiming the crown he surrendered last year.

Van Gerwen secured top spot in the league table for the eighth time in nine seasons and is out to maintain his emphatic unbeaten record in Premier League Semi-Finals.

He ended the league phase with six wins from his last seven games, finishing three points clear at the top, and will now look to go through the gears over the extended format in which he has thrived over the past decade.

The Dutch sensation, whose last major triumph came at the Players Championship Finals last November, takes on Welsh nemesis Jonny Clayton in a mouth-watering opening Semi-Final.

Clayton has had the upper-hand over MVG in televised competition over the past 18 months, pulling off successive wins at The Masters and a 7-3 success on Night Nine, though it was Van Gerwen who prevailed 8-5 in their most recent encounter.

The reigning Masters Champion has enjoyed a dream Premier League debut, hitting a nine-darter and going on to secure fourth spot on Night 16 courtesy of an 8-6 win over Dimitri van den Bergh in their decisive shoot-out.

Clayton is guaranteed a minimum of £80,000 in prize money, the biggest paycheque of his career to date, and boasts a tournament average of 99.21 to Van Gerwen’s 98.5.

The second Semi-Final sees last year’s runner-up Nathan Aspinall take on man of the moment Jose De Sousa for the second successive evening.

Thursday’s dress rehearsal saw De Sousa storm to an 8-3 victory with a 103.2 average to finish above Aspinall in the table, landing a spectacular 120 checkout with three double tops along the way.

The Portuguese ace is now closing in on a second major title in the space of six months as he aims to follow up last November’s Grand Slam triumph.

De Sousa has already enjoyed a record-breaking debut campaign, registering a staggering 81 maximums in 16 matches, and has lost just one of his last eight games.

Aspinall, meanwhile, is looking to atone for last year’s final heartbreak by going one better at the second time of asking.

The 29-year-old was denied glory by Glen Durrant in a below-par final last October but has proved arguably the most consistent player of this year’s competition.

The Asp spent 15 of the 16 league nights inside the top four and was eight games unbeaten at one stage; he now finds himself in a sixth televised Semi-Final since 2019.

His tournament average of 97.3 is two points fewer than De Sousa and the duo are also closely-matched in terms of their finishing stats, with Aspinall at 43.1% to his opponent’s 42.8%.

The Premier League Darts Play-Offs get under way from 7pm BST, with Semi-Finals to be contested over the best of 19 legs and the final best of 21.

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Premier League Darts 2021 Play-Offs Schedule

Play-Offs – Friday May 28

Semi-Finals
7.15pm Michael van Gerwen v Jonny Clayton
8.15pm Jose De Sousa v Nathan Aspinall

9.30pm
Final

Clayton denies Van den Bergh to clinch final Premier League Darts play-off place

Jonny Clayton claimed the last spot in the 2021 Premier League Darts Play-Offs with an 8-6 victory over Dimitri Van den Bergh on a thrilling final league night in Milton Keynes.

The shoot-out for the fourth Play-Off spot between two debutants saw Clayton rise to the occasion as he recorded a 104 average in keeping his title hopes alive.

The last fixture of the 2021 league phase saw Van den Bergh also average over 100, but despite hitting six 180s, the World Matchplay champion was denied opportunities by Clayton, who clinically hit eight of his 14 checkout attempts.

“Tonight was an absolutely massive game, probably the biggest I’ve ever played in my life,” said Clayton, who picks up a minimum of £80,000 for reaching the top four, the biggest payday of his career to date.

“To reach the Play-Offs in my first year in the Premier League, I’m delighted to have got over the line.

“Hopefully I can do this year after year, but I’ve got nothing to lose now. I’m here to win like everybody else, I just need to two more wins.”

Clayton will take on Michael van Gerwen in Friday’s Semi-Finals after the five-time Premier League champion topped the league phase for the eighth time in nine appearances.

Van Gerwen bounced back in style from a sixth-placed finish last year as he finished three points clear of the chasing pack and landed the £25,000 bonus.

After Nathan Aspinall failed to beat Jose De Sousa earlier in the night, Van Gerwen’s place on top was assured but the Dutchman ended his season with an 8-6 defeat of old rival Peter Wright.

A repeat of the 2017 final saw Van Gerwen average 100.2, hitting checkouts of 145, 126 and 113 to head into the Play-Offs on the back of a hat-trick of victories.

“To top the table is really important for me, but the tournament isn’t finished yet,” said Van Gerwen. “I want to win that title tomorrow.

“I can’t really complain with 23 points, considering where I came from last year.

“It’s always nice to beat Peter, he is a class player and I enjoyed playing in front of the phenomenal crowd tonight.”

De Sousa lit up the arena with an audacious 120 checkout using three double tops on his way to an eye-catching 8-3 defeat of Aspinall, with the pair set to meet again in Friday’s Semis.

Last year’s runner-up Aspinall needed victory to put pressure on Van Gerwen for the league leader spot and took out 152 in the game’s second leg, but he was left powerless to halt De Sousa as the Grand Slam of Darts champion sealed the win with a 149 finish.

De Sousa also broke the tournament’s 180 record with 81 for the season, hitting three trademark maximums en route to his fourth win in five outings.

“It was a great feeling to play so well in front of this amazing crowd,” said De Sousa. “I don’t play to break records, but it is nice to hit so many 180s.

“Three double tops was for the fans, but I wanted to show it can be done.

“It has been a fantastic first season in the Premier League for me. I am very happy with the way things are going right now.”

Meanwhile, the opening game of the night saw James Wade end his 11th Premier League campaign on a high with an 8-6 win over Gary Anderson, though both former champions were already condemned to elimination prior to Night 16.

Wade averaged 99.5 and landed seven 180s in a fine display, sealing the win with a 94 checkout after Anderson had missed a dart at the bull to earn a point.

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Premier League Darts 2021 Results

Night 16 – Thursday May 27

Gary Anderson 6-8 James Wade
Nathan Aspinall 3-8 Jose de Sousa
Peter Wright 6-8 Michael van Gerwen
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-8 Jonny Clayton

Premier League Darts 2021 Night 16 preview and order of play: Clayton and Van den Bergh face play-off shoot-out

Jonny Clayton and Dimitri van den Bergh will battle it out for the final play-off place on Night 16 of the 2021 Premier League Darts campaign on Thursday.

The race to reach finals night is set to go down to the wire in Milton Keynes as the debutant duo face off for the right to clinch the last remaining spot.

Michael van Gerwen, Nathan Aspinall and Jose De Sousa have already secured their place in Friday’s Semi-Finals, leaving Van den Bergh and Clayton to tussle for the final coveted place.

The pair go head-to-head in the final match of the evening, with Clayton needing just a point to progress, while Van den Bergh must win.

Both players enter the night on 16 points, but Clayton’s superior legs difference gives him the upper-hand as he bids to continue his landmark season so far.

The reigning Masters Champion, however, goes into the game on the back of successive defeats, having lost 8-5 to both De Sousa and Peter Wright over the last 48 hours.

Van den Bergh, meanwhile, has also struggled for results of late, claiming just one point from his last four matches despite three ton-plus averages in the process.

The World Matchplay champion spent 11 of the opening 12 nights inside the top four but now faces the prospect of missing out on the play-offs barring a timely seventh win of the season.

Elsewhere, Michael van Gerwen aims to wrap up top spot and the £25,000 bonus by avoiding defeat to rival Peter Wright.

Van Gerwen needs at least a draw to be sure of finishing top but will be confirmed as league winner if Nathan Aspinall fails to win his match earlier in the evening.

Van Gerwen has clinched top spot in seven of his eight previous Premier League appearances and has gone on to reach the final on all seven of those occasions.

The Dutch star has won five of his last six Premier League games and is out to do the double over Wright, having coasted to a 7-2 victory in their previous meeting on Night Two.

Wright has enjoyed a superb return to form in front of the fans this week, winning all three of his matches, but Snakebite’s surge has proved to be too little, too late in terms of his play-off hopes.

The 2017 finalist would end on 17 points were he to win, but Clayton and Van den Bergh’s encounter means the Scot can only finish as high as fifth.

Last year’s beaten finalist Aspinall looks to apply the pressure on MVG in his quest for top spot by overcoming Grand Slam champion De Sousa.

Aspinall must win and hope that Van Gerwen loses to Wright in order to snatch top spot and become only the fourth different player in Premier League history to do so.

The 2019 UK Open champion has picked up a win and two draws this week but may be left to rue missed opportunities having led the table for a third of the campaign.

De Sousa has enjoyed a dream debut campaign, having notably hit a nine-darter and a record-equalling 11 maximums in a match, and will be keen to go into finals night on the back of a strong performance.

An 8-6 defeat to MVG on Thursday ended The Special One’s six-match unbeaten run, though he still averaged 100.8 in a solid display and missed two darts at doubles to claim a point.

The opening match of the night sees former champions Gary Anderson and James Wade bidding to end their campaign on a high.

Both players are unable to make the play-offs but will be keen to put on a show for the crowd and avoid finishing bottom of the pile.

Two defeats and a draw for Anderson this week ended his hopes of a seventh consecutive play-off qualification, while Wade has gone seven games without a win and has drawn five of his 15 matches.

Night 16 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.

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Premier League Darts 2021 Night 16 Schedule

Thursday May 27

7.15pm Gary Anderson v James Wade
8.00pm Nathan Aspinall v Jose de Sousa
8.45pm Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
9.30pm Dimitri Van den Bergh v Jonny Clayton

Aspinall and De Sousa secure Premier League play-off places on Night 15

Nathan Aspinall and Jose De Sousa secured their place in the 2021 Premier League Darts Play-Offs in Milton Keynes on Wednesday.

Last year’s runner-up Aspinall confirmed a top four finish for the second successive year courtesy of a 7-7 draw with Gary Anderson.

A closely-matched contest saw both players land two ton-plus checkouts apiece, before Aspinall rescued a point with a 14-dart final leg to book his place in Friday’s Semi-Finals.

“I’m really disappointed,” Aspinall admitted. “I’ve got a lot of time for Gary, he was my idol growing up but tonight showed me that I’ve got to put that to one side when I play him.

“Normally I play really well against him but what I take away from this game is that I’ve got to put that to one side when I’m on stage and play my game; I felt very flat throughout the game.

“I’m not going to be too hard on myself tonight because it’s a point and I’ve qualified for the Play-Offs, but tonight it’s a lesson learned.”

Despite going down 8-6 to Michael van Gerwen, De Sousa joins Aspinall in guaranteeing a Play-Off place in his debut season thanks to other results on the night.

Van Gerwen’s clinical 62 percent checkout accuracy proved to be the difference between the players, with the five-time champion now on the verge of finishing top for the eighth time in nine seasons.

However, De Sousa will also return for Friday’s finals despite seeing his six-match unbeaten run come to an end.

“I could have done a little bit better in this game but overall I can’t really complain,” said Van Gerwen. “When it mattered, I did the job and that’s the only thing that matters in a game that’s this important.

“There’s still more progression but overall I can’t really complain. You want to be in this position – I didn’t play my best but my will to win is there.

“I’m here to win the title, and I won’t be satisfied with anything else.”

Dimitri Van den Bergh landed a crucial bullseye for 130 checkout to earn a point against James Wade and set up a showdown with Jonny Clayton for the final Play-Off spot on Thursday.

Heading into the game on the back of a three-match losing streak, Van den Bergh had to battle back from 6-3 down to take a share of the spoils against Wade.

After Wade took out 121 to go 7-6 up, Van den Bergh rallied and checked out 130 for a 15-darter under pressure to maintain his hopes of a Play-Off berth in his maiden Premier League campaign.

“This result means a lot to me, it gives me a fighting chance heading into tomorrow,” said Van den Bergh.

“I’ve been playing really well and losing recently, but you have to expect that when you are playing against the best of the best, night after night.

“I always take the positives, I keep fighting and believing in myself. I have to thank the crowd for this result because they definitely helped me secure that point.

“It’s all to play for tomorrow night, I will need the support of the crowd to make my dream come true.”

Like Van den Bergh, Clayton is seeking a Play-Off spot in his debut year but his hopes were dealt a blow as he went down 8-5 to a resurgent Peter Wright.

Clayton was made to pay for his 14 missed double attempts, and the Welshman must now take at least a draw from Thursday’s showdown with Van den Bergh to book a top four place, with the Belgian needing to win the tie.

Despite racking up his third straight win, Wright is out of the running for a Play-Off place due to his inferior leg difference going into the final night.

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Premier League Darts 2021 Results

Night 15 – Wednesday May 26

Jonny Clayton 5-8 Peter Wright
James Wade 7-7 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gary Anderson 7-7 Nathan Aspinall
Jose de Sousa 6-8 Michael van Gerwen

Premier League Darts 2021 Night 15 preview and order of play: Trio aim to secure play-off places

The four play-off places could be finalised on Night 15 of the 2021 Premier League Darts season in Milton Keynes on Wednesday.

The league phase enters its penultimate night at the Marshall Arena, with five players vying for the three remaining places in Friday’s Semi-Finals.

Michael van Gerwen became the first player to mathematically clinch a place in the play-offs on Tuesday when he defeated rival Gary Anderson to reach 19 points and return to the top of the table.

Van Gerwen has now qualified for Finals Night in eight of his nine Premier League appearances and is out to seal top spot and the £25,000 winner’s bonus for the eighth time.

The five-time Premier League champion would rubber-stamp top spot with a night to spare if he was to defeat Jose De Sousa and Nathan Aspinall was to lose to Gary Anderson.

Van Gerwen defeated De Sousa 7-4 with a 104.7 average in their reverse fixture on Night Eight and will be eyeing a repeat performance as he looks to build up a head of steam going into Friday’s finals.

De Sousa may be renowned for his mathematical errors on the oche, but he faces a simple equation here; win and he is through to the play-offs in his debut campaign.

The Portuguese star could also go through with a point if Dimitri van den Bergh is beaten by James Wade earlier in the evening.

Van den Bergh is in the midst of an untimely run of three straight defeats and just one win in his last six which has left him a point adrift of the top four.

The World Matchplay champion, however, averaged 107 despite defeat to Peter Wright from 5-3 up on Tuesday and will be keen to replicate that scoring power against an opponent playing without pressure.

Wade’s winless run of six games has ended his hopes of gatecrashing the top four, but the 2009 champion will be looking to go out on a high and put on a show for the fans.

The UK Open champion took the final two legs to salvage a 7-7 draw with Nathan Aspinall on Tuesday with a 101.8 average – his sixth ton-plus average of the campaign.

Last year’s beaten finalist Aspinall, meanwhile, can secure a second successive play-off appearance with victory over his darting idol Gary Anderson.

Aspinall could also progress if he draws and Van den Bergh draws, or if the Belgian fails to pick up a point.

Aspinall has spent 13 of the 14 nights so far inside the top four and an eighth win of the season would see him eclipse last year’s tally of 19 points.

Anderson, on the other hand, is playing for pride after seeing his hopes of making the play-offs ended following a second successive defeat last night.

The 2011 and 2015 Premier League champion is currently bottom of the table on 12 points but could still finish as high as fifth, which would mean a £20,000 difference in prize money.

The opening match of the night sees Masters Champion Jonny Clayton take on European Champion Peter Wright.

Both players are still in the running for a Semi-Final spot, though fourth placed Clayton has destiny in his own hands knowing that a win, coupled with a defeat for Van den Bergh, would see him qualify.

The Welshman is out to bounce back from his 8-5 defeat to De Sousa 24 hours ago by ruining Wright’s hopes of a miraculous great escape.

Wright, the 2017 runner-up, has raised his game considerably following the return of fans and is now eyeing a third straight win to pile the pressure on The Ferret.

The Scot is three points adrift of Clayton, meaning only a win would be sufficient for Snakebite to take it down to the final night of round-robin fixtures

The pair played out a high quality 6-6 draw on the opening night last month, with Clayton averaging 105.5 to Wright’s 101.2.

Night 15 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.

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Premier League Darts 2021 Night 15 Schedule

Wednesday May 26

7.15pm Jonny Clayton v Peter Wright
8.00pm James Wade v Dimitri Van den Bergh
8.45pm Gary Anderson v Nathan Aspinall
9.30pm Jose de Sousa v Michael van Gerwen

Van Gerwen secures Premier League play-off spot as Wade and Anderson bow out

Michael van Gerwen became the first player to secure a place in the 2021 Premier League play-offs after an 8-4 victory over Gary Anderson on Night 14 in Milton Keynes.

Van Gerwen bounced back from his defeat on Monday evening by brushing aside rival Anderson to return to the top of the table and mathematically clinch a place in Friday’s Semi-Finals.

The five-time Premier League champion averaged 98 in a solid display as he landed 57 per cent of his checkout attempts and confirmed an eighth play-off qualification in nine Premier League appearances.

Anderson produced two ton-plus finishes, including a 138, but could not avert a second successive defeat as his play-off hopes slipped away.

“It’s been a long wait for me to win in front of fans but it feels good now it is finally here,” said Van Gerwen.

“I feel good again, but you have to show it on the stage. After last night’s disappointment it was important for me to put it right tonight.

“Now I can start to focus and work towards the semi-finals. I’m going to keep enjoying playing in front of the crowds for the next couple of nights and get myself ready for Friday when I hope to lift this title again.”

Van Gerwen knocked Nathan Aspinall off top spot after the 2020 Premier League runner-up was held to a 7-7 draw by James Wade.

A win for Aspinall would have seen him book his place in Friday’s finals, but after going 7-5 up he was pegged back by a tenacious Wade and forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

While a point was not enough to keep Wade’s hopes of a Play-Off spot alive, Aspinall was left frustrated with the result and will have to wait another night in order to secure his place in the Semi-Finals.

“It wasn’t to be tonight,” Aspinall conceded. “I’m gutted but I think a draw was probably a fair result.

“It would mean everything for me to get over the line and reach the Play-Offs. After the 12 months I’ve had it would prove to a lot of people that I’m not a flash in the pan.

“I want to keep proving people wrong, and it’s up to me now to go out and finish the job.”

Jose de Sousa took another big step towards securing a final four place in his debut campaign as he defeated Jonny Clayton 8-5.

De Sousa, who has not suffered defeat since Night Eight, racked up a third successive win against fellow-newcomer Clayton despite hitting just three 180s.

Known for his prolific scoring, on this occasion it was De Sousa’s 57 per cent checkout success rate that helped him to the winning line to cement third place in the table.

“Two points at this stage of the season is massive for me,” said De Sousa.

“My dream is to win the Premier League in my first year playing in this tournament, and I still have a chance to do that so I am very happy right now.

“I know I need to keep playing at this level to have a chance to do that so I have to make sure I stay focused for the rest of the week.”

Peter Wright kept his feint Play-Off hopes alive with an 8-5 victory over Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Wright, who began the week knowing he needed to win all of his remaining league matches to stand a chance of reaching the Play-Offs, made it back-to-back victories against Van den Bergh as he averaged 102.82.

The Scot hit eight of his 14 checkout attempts, including two ton-plus finishes, to inflict a fourth defeat in five matches upon Van den Bergh, whose Play-Off dream remains in the balance with two matches to play.

“I’m still on a high with having the crowds back,” said Wright. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to but I did enough to get the win.

“When I know I need to win legs I find a way to do it, even against the best players in the world. I’ve kept myself alive in the competition for another night at least.

“Every game feels like a knockout game for me now because I know I can’t afford anymore slip-ups. I will keep fighting.”

Wednesday will see the penultimate night of league phase action take place, as Clayton takes on Wright in the opening game of the night, before Van den Bergh seeks a return to winning ways against Wade.

Aspinall and De Sousa can then secure Play-Off berths with victories over Anderson and Van Gerwen respectively in the final two matches of the evening.

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Premier League Darts 2021 Results

Night 14 – Tuesday May 25

James Wade 7-7 Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton 5-8 Jose de Sousa
Gary Anderson 4-8 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 8-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh

 

Premier League Darts 2021 Night 14 preview and order of play: Play-off push continues

The race to secure play-off places intensifies on Night 14 of the 2021 Premier League Darts campaign on Tuesday, with the top five separated by just two points.

Monday saw the return of fans to a PDC event in the UK for the first time in five months and the lively Milton Keynes crowd were treated to four high quality contests.

Nathan Aspinall banished his back-to-back defeats a fortnight ago with a dominant victory over Michael van Gerwen on Night 13 to return to the top of the table on legs difference.

Aspinall, last year’s runner-up, is now just two points shy of the tally he achieved last season and could go some way towards confirming his qualification once again with another win this evening.

Aspinall has spent 12 of the 13 nights so far inside the top four and will have his sights firmly set on clinching the £25,000 league winner’s bonus.

The former UK Open champion kicks off the night with a clash against reigning UK Open champion James Wade – who is in desperate need of a win to keep his hopes alive.

Wade is five points adrift of the top four with a possible six to play for and a third straight defeat would see him out of the reckoning for a Semi-Final spot on Friday.

The 2009 Premier League champion is without a win in his last five outings at the Marshall Arena and will be determined to stop the rot and give himself a fighting chance going into the two remaining nights of round-robin action.

Five-time champion Van Gerwen saw his run of three straight wins ended by ‘The Asp’ in a 8-3 defeat on Monday and will be targeting an immediate response against rival Gary Anderson.

Van Gerwen has not lost back-to-back games in this year’s Premier League so far and has remained in the top four since the opening night.

The Dutch sensation has finished top of the table and gone on to reach the final in seven of his eight previous Premier League campaigns and could be poised to go down to the wire in his latest quest.

Anderson held MVG to a 6-6 draw on Night Seven but knows that only maximum points from their latest encounter will realistically be sufficient to keep his play-off hopes alive.

The two-time Premier League winner is four points adrift of Jonny Clayton in fourth spot and is in danger of missing out on Finals Night for the first time since 2013.

Anderson was thrashed 8-1 by Clayton despite averaging 104 on Monday, a scoreline which put a severe dent in his legs difference, meaning he is now 18 legs worse off than the Welshman.

Clayton now has destiny in his own hands after leapfrogging Dimitri van den Bergh into fourth, moving a point clear and just one point adrift of the leaders.

The reigning Masters Champion now faces fellow debutant Jose De Sousa in a what could prove to be a pivotal clash in the race for the play-offs.

The duo are locked level on 16 points apiece and would retain their places in the top four with a win, or a draw providing Van den Bergh does not win 8-0 or 8-1.

Clayton adjusted superbly to the return of fans last night and will be out to replicate the form which led him to a 7-3 success over ‘The Special One’ on Night Three with a 105.2 average.

De Sousa averaged 108.5 on that occasion and has since continued his prolific scoring power, taking his 180 tally to 69 en route to a five-game unbeaten run.

The final match of the night sees reigning World Matchplay champion Van den Bergh take on 2020 World Champion Peter Wright.

Van den Bergh’s 8-6 defeat to De Sousa last night saw him drop out of the play-off places for the first time since Night One, having won just one of his last five games.

The Belgian ace will be keen to bounce back and avoid becoming cut adrift from the leading pack with just two nights remaining before the cut-off.

He faces a familiar opponent with whom he was a house guest during the first lockdown last year and attributed much of his recent success to the influence of Wright.

Like Wade, Wright is facing a ‘must win’ scenario which would see him eliminated with a defeat and needing a mathematical miracle if he were to draw.

The colourful Scot defeated Wade 8-4 to end a three-game losing streak, averaging 98.7 in a much-improved display in front of the fans.

The reverse fixture saw the pair play out a 6-6 draw on Night Two and a repeat result would do neither a favour given their respective positions.

Night 14 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.

WATCH PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Premier League Darts 2021 Night 14 Schedule

Tuesday May 25

7.15pm James Wade v Nathan Aspinall
8.00pm Jonny Clayton v Jose de Sousa
8.45pm Gary Anderson v Michael van Gerwen
9.30pm Peter Wright v Dimitri Van den Bergh

Aspinall thrashes Van Gerwen to reclaim top spot as fans return to Premier League Darts

Nathan Aspinall returned to the top of the Premier League Darts table after an 8-3 rout of Michael van Gerwen in front of a thrilled crowd in Milton Keynes.

The first PDC event in the UK to feature a live crowd in five months saw almost 700 fans flock to the Marshall Arena as the final week of the 2021 Premier League began.

Last year’s beaten finalist Aspinall rose to the occasion as he bounced back from successive defeats behind closed doors a fortnight ago to thrash Van Gerwen and leapfrog the Dutchman into top spot.

The dominant display was aided by two 120 checkouts, and it was Aspinall’s stronger start in opening up a 5-1 lead which proved crucial before he closed out a win which sees him join MVG on 17 points.

“It’s a massive two points and it was a great buzz tonight,” said Aspinall. “I was really nervous coming into the game because we’ve missed the fans, and win or lose I wanted to enjoy it tonight.

“This is what darts is all about, and I loved every minute of it. I think we were both trying too hard to play well but the crowd got me through.

“I finished really well and when I get a bit of a lead I felt more comfortable. It wasn’t my best performance, but the two 120 finishes won me the game and it’s a very good two points.”

Peter Wright, meanwhile, kept alive his Play-Off hopes by ending a three-match losing run with an 8-4 win over James Wade as the 2020 World Champion returned to his best.

Wright danced his way to the oche before coming from 2-0 down with a brace of 11-darters as he surged ahead before finishing a key 103 in leg ten on his way to victory.

Both Wright and Wade sit five points adrift of the top four with just three league games remaining – but the former finalist was “on a high” after being cheered to victory for the first time since December by a live crowd.

“The crowd make such a difference, it was amazing,” admitted Wright. “They inspired me and I feel so alive – it was so nice being nervous backstage!

“All the crowd played their part because I’ve missed them. Last year I won my last four games to make the Play-Offs so if I’m playing well then everyone else has got to watch out.”

Jonny Clayton won the first game back in front of fans, finishing eight doubles from 14 attempts in an 8-1 demolition of Gary Anderson to boost his Play-Off hopes.

After the opening two legs were shared, Clayton reeled off seven straight legs as he punished seven missed doubles from Anderson to dent the two-time champion’s chances of reaching the top four.

“It was absolutely brilliant,” said Clayton. “It’s a massive buzz because the crowd makes darts, so it was amazing to get them back and the atmosphere was fantastic.

“I had a few people cheering for me and there were a couple of Welsh flags, in, so it’s a proud moment.

“I was so nervous before I went on but I relaxed and my darts kept going. I took my chances and I’ve done my job – I’m chasing a dream and I’ll keep turning up over the next three days and working hard.”

Jose de Sousa extended his unbeaten run to five matches with an 8-6 win over Dimitri Van den Bergh which sees him jump above the Belgian in the league table to sit third, ahead of Clayton on leg difference.

The Portuguese took a break of throw in leg four as he opened up a 4-1 lead, and landed a superb 11-darter as he secured at least a point at 7-4.

Van den Bergh battled back with legs of 13 and 14 darts to take the game all the way, but De Sousa landed a 180 in the decider before pinning double ten to seal a key win.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said De Sousa. “I didn’t feel the pressure and it’s nice to see the crowd behind us again. The fans know the player and the person that I am and I got a lot of respect from them.

“I know this is a big win for me. Every game in the Premier League is very difficult and every point is important.

“It was a difficult game for both of us because Dimitri is a great player and I think he can maybe be World Champion in the next few years, so I’m very happy to get this win.”

WATCH PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Premier League Darts 2021 Results

Night 13 – Monday May 24

Jonny Clayton 8-1 Gary Anderson
Jose de Sousa 8-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Nathan Aspinall 8-3 Michael van Gerwen
James Wade 4-8 Peter Wright

Premier League Darts 2021 Night 13 preview and order of play: Fans return 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.

Wright aims to save his season (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

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.

WATCH PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

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