Premier League Darts: Phase 2 begins after a sad night of goodbyes
Premier League Darts heads to Sheffield on Thursday night after a Judgement Night overshadowed by the untimely death of darts legend Eric Bristow, who had been in attendance at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
Tributes to the Crafty Cockney swiftly poured in from around the sporting world, and Bristow’s passing visibly affected several players as the news reverberated around the Arena.
Perhaps fittingly to honour one of the game’s greatest ever characters, Judgement Night served up some classic darts action as Gerwyn Price and Mensur Suljović waved goodbye to the competition after finishing in the two elimination places. The competition now moves to Phase 2 with eight players fighting it out for the four play-off spots. The move to Phase 2 will also now see two players compete twice across four of the next six nights.
If anyone can take on Bristow’s mantle as an all-time great of the game, surely it has to be Michael van Gerwen. The Dutchman continues to carry all before him in this competition, ending Suljovic’s slim hopes of avoiding elimination with a comfortable 7-4 victory in Liverpool, and MVG will now face Simon Whitlock in Sheffield. The Wizard will be buoyant after recording a first win in five attempts at the Echo Arena, although the current league leader is likely to prove far tougher opposition than Gerwyn Price.
The Sheffield faithful will get two chances to watch a darts legend in the flesh on Thursday night as Raymond van Barneveld tops and tails the evening’s fixtures with intriguing clashes against Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright.
All three players currently sit in the lower reaches of the Premier League table, so Barney will be looking to restore some much-needed momentum with a quickfire double here to close in on the play off slots. It won’t be easy for the 2014 champion after going down to a 7-0 whitewash against Michael Smith in Liverpool. His first opponent Gurney also has an extra burst of motivation to take the victory after becoming a father for the first time in midweek.
Scotsman Peter Wright narrowly staved off the threat of elimination last week and also goes twice at the FlyDSA Arena. He takes on compatriot Gary Anderson in the second game of the evening before closing the night’s entertainment up against Barney. Wright ended his desperate run of defeats last week with a nip-and-tuck 6-6 draw with Gurney in the final fixture of the evening – a match where both players’ minds were perhaps understandably elsewhere after the shock news of Bristow’s passing started to filter through the venue.
Finally, the penultimate tie of the evening sees the sport’s next two superstars go head-to-head as Michael Smith faces Rob Cross. Back in March, Cross edged out Smith 7-5 in Phase 1 of the tournament at the First Direct Arena in Leeds – can Bully Boy turn the tables in their second Premier League match-up in Yorkshire?
Fixtures – FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield
Raymond van Barneveld v Daryl Gurney
Gary Anderson v Peter Wright
Simon Whitlock v Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith v Rob Cross
Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright
Key stats from Liverpool
Highest 3 Dart Average: Michael van Gerwen – 106.34
Highest checkout: Simon Whitlock – 164
Most 180s: Michael van Gerwen – 10
Total 180s: 36
|1||Michael van Gerwen||9||8||0||1||32||16|
|7||Raymond van Barneveld||9||3||2||4||-9||8|
|9||Mensur Suljovic ( E )||9||2||0||7||-13||4|
|10||Gerwyn Price ( E )||9||0||2||7||-29||2|
April 18 – Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam*
April 19 – Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam
April 26 – Manchester Arena, Manchester
May 3 – Arena Birmingham, Birmingham
May 10 – BHGE Arena, Aberdeen
May 17 – O2, London (Play Offs)
* Additional night in Rotterdam due to cancelled event at Exeter in early March
All image sources from PA Images