The Premier League Darts heads back to Exeter ahead of a big weekend.
Thursday’s action is not just important for the Premier League Darts standings; it’s a precursor for the UK Open. Before we head to Minehead to find out who wins the first major of the year, there are five top quality tungsten tussles to savour in Devon.
Daryl Gurney hasn’t been savouring much of anything so far in 2020. Superchin is the only winless player, and he sits two points adrift of safety even at this stage. Wins are imperative now, starting with this tie against Rob Cross. Voltage has had a fairly nondescript opening few weeks himself. If last year’s runner-up wants another O2 visit, he needs to turn the narrow defeats (three 7-5 losses in a row now) into victories.
Gerwyn Price started 2019 in top form, and he’s done the same in 2020. The Welshman finally secured his first Premier League Darts win of the season last week, and in fine style. The new Belgian Darts Championship holder meets Glen Durrant in Exeter. Duzza’s unbeaten run is now over; form can be a slippery slope, so it’s up to the three-time world champion to immediately turn things around.
Asp seeking top spot
It’s second versus second bottom in the third game. Not many would’ve guessed that it’d be debutant Nathan Aspinall threatening the top spots, and world champion Peter Wright languishing near the bottom. Yet that’s the state of play. Wright, posting massive averages on the floor, flopped badly against Gerwyn Price last week. The looming UK Open might be another distraction – the perfect opportunity, then, for reigning Minehead champion Aspinall to go into his title defence on a high.
A year ago, Luke Humphries headed to Exeter as a contender. He came out of it with a very credible draw against Gerwyn Price, another feather in the World Championship quarter-finalist’s cap. Fast-forward a year, and Humphries returns as a Premier League Darts challenger (there’s been a re-brand) having become world youth champion, and reached the last eight at the Ally Pally again. Gary Anderson has plenty to be concerned about here. The Flying Scotsman will be the favourite, but he plays one of the game’s brightest prospects – and one who is fully in the midst of realising his potential.
Michael vs Michael
Michael Smith had a fairly standard evening in Dublin last week. A slightly disappointing 88 average. A narrow, hard-fought win over Daryl Gurney. Not much to write home about.
Oh, there was this, though…
MICHAEL SMITH STRIKES PERFECTION IN DUBLIN!
It's the first Premier League nine-darter since 2017!! pic.twitter.com/k2vebOPzYv
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) February 27, 2020
Nine-dart hero Smith followed up his Irish exploits with a run to the Belgian Darts Championship final. On the way, he saw off Michael van Gerwen. Now the world number one has a shot at revenge for the Hasselt defeat. Mighty Mike insists he’s not feeling the heat – but if he were to go into the UK Open (where he hasn’t done brilliantly recently) both trophyless and off the top of the Premier League Darts table, would the doubts set in?
Then again, this is Michael van Gerwen we’re talking about.
Premier League Darts 2020 schedule
Night Five, Exeter
19:15 Rob Cross vs Daryl Gurney
19:50 Gerwyn Price vs Glen Durrant
20:25 Nathan Aspinall vs Peter Wright
21:00 Gary Anderson vs Luke Humphries [challenger]
21:35 Michael van Gerwen vs Michael SmithTags: Daryl Gurney, Gary Anderson, Gerwyn Price, Glen Durrant, Luke Humphries, Michael Smith, Michael van Gerwen, Nathan Aspinall, PDC, Peter Wright, Rob Cross
Author: Ed McCosh