We are now in phase 2 of the Unibet Premier League Darts tournament and after an exhilarating first phase, it was the legend Raymond van Barneveld who was eliminated from the tournament at Judgement Night.
The Dutch legend amassed just four points in his nine games and was some way adrift at the bottom of the table. On his final night, van Barneveld stated that he would retire immediately after the game but within 24-hours had retracted that statement and he intends to continue playing for the rest of this season before retiring at the end of the year.
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Since then the remaining eight players in the tournament have been in action over the last two Thursday evenings, first in Belfast and then in Liverpool and some unusual results have given the League Table an unusual look heading into the 12th week of action.
Premier League Darts Table
|2||Michael van Gerwen||11||16||+27|
|9||Raymond van Barneveld||9||4||-22|
Former World Champion Rob Cross leads the way at present having won an impressive eight of his 11 matches so far, drawing one and losing two, while Michael van Gerwen is hot on his heels with seven wins and two draws from his 11 matches.
The real battle is on for the final two places in the Finals later in May with four players all tied on 12 points, Wade, Price, Suljovic and Gurney, while Peter Wright and Michael Smith, although they are a little off the pace, could still come into contention over the next couple of weeks if they can string together a run of victories.
There are five weeks left of action in Phase 2 of the Premier League, meaning a total of 10 points per player is up for grabs. The action starts on Thursday night at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff and the fixtures and venues for the final games of the season are outlined below.
18th April – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
- Mensur Suljovic v Daryl Gurney
- Rob Cross v Michael van Gerwen
- Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
- Peter Wright v James Wade
25th April – Arena Birmingham
- Mensur Suljovic v Michael Smith
- Rob Cross v Gerwyn Price
- Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright
- James Wade v Michael van Gerwen
2nd May – Manchester Arena
- James Wade v Gerwyn Price
- Daryl Gurney v Michael van Gerwen
- Peter Wright v Mensur Suljovic
- Rob Cross v Michael Smith
9th May – FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield
- Michael Smith v James Wade
- Mensur Suljovic v Rob Cross
- Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price
- Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
16th May – First Direct Arena, Leeds
- Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright
- James Wade v Rob Cross
- Michael van Gerwen v Mensur Suljovic
- Daryl Gurney v Michael Smith
The top four players in the Premier League then move on to compete in next week’s Playoffs.
23rd May – Playoffs. The 02 London
- Semi Final 1 & 2, plus the Final
Let’s now look ahead to the games taking place this coming Thursday night in Cardiff and see who to back in each of the four games scheduled that evening.
Night 12 – Thursday 18th April – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
- Mensur Suljovic (6/4) v Daryl Gurney (6/5) – 15/4 the draw
Two of the four players on 12 points in the Premier League clash in the opening game in Cardiff. Mensur Suljovic lost to Gerwyn Price in Liverpool last week but his opponent Daryl Gurney produced a battling display to earn a 7-7 draw with James Wade in the third game that night. The two players last met on Judgement Night in Rotterdam on the 28th March and that time it was Gurney who emerged as the winner by a 7-3 scoreline.
I fancy this one to be close. Suljovic’s great strength is consistency and he is rarely heavily beaten by any player. Gurney does tend to blow hot and cold more often than his opponent but I think the Irishman is in decent form and I feel this one has a very good chance of ending in a draw.
- Rob Cross (10/3) v Michael van Gerwen (8/15) – 9/2 the draw
The winner of this match will top the Premier League darts table heading into Week 13 of the tournament. The two players last met in Dublin on Night 3 of the tournament and it was the Dutchman who produced the classier performance, earning a very comfortable 7-2 win over the Englishman.
Cross will know that he is going to have to produce a much better display than that in Cardiff in order to hold onto his top spot in the table and while I can see him doing that, I just feel Michael van Gerwen has the edge over him at the minute, both in terms of results and psychologically. As such, I am expecting van Gerwen to go back to the top of the table with a win here.
- Michael Smith (6/5) v Gerwyn Price (6/4) – 15/4 the draw
These two battled out a 7-5 win for Michael Smith at the Ahoy in Rotterdam on Matchday eight of the competition and there is as much at stake, if not more, in this rematch a few weeks later. Price’s improved form has moved him into fourth place as one of a cluster of players on 12 points, but he will know a defeat or even a draw here may not be enough to keep him in the playoff places.
Smith, last year’s beaten finalist, will know that nothing less than a win will do as he is bottom of the table at present but he lost heavily last week to Michael van Gerwen in Liverpool and I think he could just be on the wrong side of another close one here tonight. Back Price to win.
- Peter Wright (13/10) v James Wade (13/10) – 4/1 the draw
Peter Wright needs to shake off the poor run of form that has beset him in this tournament in recent weeks if he is to have any chance of making the playoffs. The former finalist has not been his usual sharp self in recent weeks and he has struggled for consistency.
The exact opposite is true of James Wade who has returned to the Premier League this season and looked like he has never been away. Wade is another player on 12 points and of that group, he is the man in form and I expect him to get the job done here by claiming a win over Wright.