Even heavy snow can’t keep the Premier League Darts roadshow down for long, and after Week 5 in Exeter was postponed due to Storm Emma, the tournament returns with a vengeance this Thursday at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
As a result, Judgement Night – the league finale – has been pushed back a week later and will now take place in Liverpool on April 5th. The bottom two players in the league will be eliminated with the remaining eight competing for a place in May’s play-offs.
For darts fans, the mouth-watering clash between Michael van Gerwen and this tournament’s surprise package Simon Whitlock will have made the wait even more worthwhile.
Veteran Whitlock has responded to his critics in the best possible way during the opening rounds of this year’s PL Darts, racking up three consecutive wins before something of a reality check in Week 4 with a 7-3 defeat to current league leader Michael Smith.
‘The Wizard’ faces an even tougher challenge on Thursday night against pre-tournament favourite Michael Van Gerwen who looks to be coming into form at just the right time after a comprehensive 7-2 win over Daryl Gurney in Berlin last time out.
On the flipside, Gurney and Gerwyn Price will be hoping the extended break has done them the world of good after disappointing starts to their respective campaigns, with both hoping to chalk up their first wins in Week 6.
Despite being the bookies outsiders in their respective matches, both look to have potentially winnable fixtures against old stagers Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld, but with all four struggling to build momentum in the tournament, Leeds promises to be a fascinating battle of youth vs experience at the pressure cooker halfway stage of Premier League Darts.
This week, Anderson admitted he finds it ‘harder each year’ with the influx of young talent on the darts scene but will be buoyant after securing the UK Open last weekend – his first major PDC tournament win in five attempts.
Speaking of youth, Week 6 also sees the two youngest players in the tournament go head-to-head as Rob Cross goes up against Michael Smith.
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s the latter who has been stealing all the headlines so far in 2018, but in the last round, PDC World Champion Cross finally seemed to be back on track following a stuttering start to the tournament, registering his second consecutive win in a 7-3 tussle with Van Barneveld and finishing with a flourish with a 128 checkout.
Finally, Mensur Suljović will be hoping to follow-up his maiden win in this year’s tournament as he takes on a steady but unspectacular Peter Wright. After impressing last time around taking the spoils 7-3 against Gerwyn Price , the unorthodox Austrian may well need to take his chance to stretch further away from the elimination places.
Night Six – March 8
First Direct Arena, Leeds
Michael van Gerwen v Simon Whitlock
Gerwyn Price v Raymond van Barneveld
Peter Wright v Mensur Suljovic
Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney
Rob Cross v Michael Smith
Key stats from Week 4
Highest 3 Dart Average: 106.20 (Mensur Suljovic)
Highest Checkout: 150 (Gary Anderson)
Most 180s: 5 (Gary Anderson and Michael Smith)
Total 180s: 31
Following Storm Emma and the cancellation of Week 5 in Exeter, Judgement Night will now take place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on April 5.
Night Seven – March 15
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Michael Smith v Peter Wright
Simon Whitlock v Daryl Gurney
Mensur Suljovic v Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price v Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
Night Eight – March 22
The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Daryl Gurney v Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith
Gary Anderson v Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright v Raymond van Barneveld
Rob Cross v Gerwyn Price
Night Nine – March 29
The SSE Arena, Belfast
Mensur Suljovic v Gary Anderson
Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen
Daryl Gurney v Rob Cross
Simon Whitlock v Peter Wright
Judgement Night – April 5
Echo Arena, Liverpool
Gary Anderson v Rob Cross
Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright
Mensur Suljovic v Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Simon Whitlock v Gerwyn Price
|2||Michael van Gerwen||4||3||0||1||12||6|
|7||Raymond van Barneveld||4||1||1||2||-5||3|
All images sourced from PA images