It is D-Day in Premier League Darts on Thursday. For sixteen weeks, eight darters competed for a spot in the playoffs. Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith, Michael van Gerwen, and Jonny Clayton managed to qualify for the finals night.
Of this list, only Van Gerwen and Clayton had won the tournament before. Van Gerwen won the Premier League Darts in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2022, while Clayton ran away with the overall victory in 2021.
Smith made it to the final in 2018 but then lost to an unleashed Van Gerwen. The Dutchman then threw an average of a whopping 112.37. For Price, it will be his first-ever appearance in the playoffs of this prestigious darts competition but he comes into it having won the league phase.
Gerwyn Price vs Jonny Clayton
There will be a Welshman in the final anyway, as Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton face each other in the first semi-final. It is also a clash between the league winners of the past two editions.
Price was thus the league stage winner in this year's edition of Premier League Darts. 'The Iceman' made it to the final no fewer than nine times, four of which he managed to win. Especially from the seventh round of play, the former rugby player picked up a cartload of points. During the last 10 weeks of play, Price lost his first match only once. In that period, seven of his nine finals were achieved.
His compatriot Clayton owes his qualification to a strong second half of the competition. Jonny Clayton started this Premier League Darts moderately and was in seventh place after eight rounds of play. The turnaround came during the ninth week of play in Berlin, which Clayton won. 'The Ferret' then also won the following week of play in Birmingham. With another final and two semi-finals, Clayton narrowly edged rival Nathan Aspinall out of fourth place.
The two Welsh darters met five times in the league phase. Four times victory went to Price and once Clayton won. In the overall head-to-head, the score is 20-11 in Price's favor. By the way, the latter lost only one of the last nine meetings between them and seems to be the favorite to reach his first Premier League final in advance.
Tournament Centre 2023 Premier League Darts: Results, schedule, standings and prize money breakdown
Michael Smith vs Michael van Gerwen
The second semi-final is a repeat of the World Championship final, in which Michael van Gerwen is undoubtedly keen to revenge for his defeat in the battle for the world title.
The six-time Premier League champion won the bulk of his points during the first eight weeks of play. In the first half of the competition, Van Gerwen reached five finals, three of which actually resulted in a weekly title. During the last eight weeks of play, 'Mighty Mike' did not reach the final once again, losing four times in the first round.
With his opponent Michael Smith, the form seems to have returned just at the right time. 'Bullyboy' initially made a shaky impression in the league stage. Of the four semi-finalists, only Clayton (eight times) lost his first round more often. Smith happened seven times, compared to five straight defeats for Price and Van Gerwen. However, Smith, like Price, did manage to win four weekly titles and also lost three times in the final. The Englishman managed to win the 13th, 14th and 15th rounds of play all to his liking. In the last week of play, he did go down in the first round against eventual weekly winner Dimitri van den Bergh.
Van Gerwen and Smith have already met four times in this Premier League Darts. The outcomes of these matches are related to the form curves of the two players. 'Mighty Mike' won the first two clashes in the first and sixth weeks of play. Smith prevailed in weeks 14 and 15 of play. In the overall balance, the Dutchman leads 39-16, but six of the last eight encounters went to his English opponent. It is difficult to pick a favorite for this match beforehand. The same goes for the betting shops. Almost all bookies have given both players equal odds.
Preview finals night 2023 Premier League Darts: Who will walk away with prestigious title on Thursday night?
How much prize money is there to win?
The eventual winner gets to lift the trophy, of course, but even more important is the accompanying cheque. For the title holder, a handsome financial reward awaits.
The four semi-finalists are guaranteed £85,000 in prize money anyway. That amount will be transferred to the two players who lose in the semi-final.
On winning the semi-final, the proceeds already rise to at least £125,000. A cheque for £275,000 then awaits the eventual winner of Premier League Darts.
Premier League Darts Play-Offs - Thursday, May 25
The O2, London
Gerwyn Price v Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith v Michael van Gerwen
Price/Clayton v Smith/Van Gerwen