Huge Night Ahead in London with 5 Still in Race for Top 4
The Premier League Darts has just two nights before Finals Night in Berlin, with five players fighting it out for the final two Play Off positions. Jonny Clayton and Michael van Gerwen can already start preparing for Finals Night on June 13th after securing their qualification earlier on in the competition.
Clayton is the only player to win four Premier League Nights having won on Scottish soil twice, (Aberdeen and Glasgow) as well as Birmingham and Liverpool on Night 2. He leads proceedings despite a Quarter Final defeat last week to Michael Smith, with 34 points to his name, three points clear of van Gerwen in second.
Mighty Mike has won three nights himself to qualify for Berlin including a night win where he dropped just three legs in Exeter. The Dutchman has finished top of the Premier League on eight occasions, with Glen Durrant being the only player other than the Dutchman to come top in the last nine years of the competition.
There is also a huge race developing for the Final two spots in Germany, after Gerwyn Price’s triumph in Sheffield last week. James Wade missed the action in the Steel city due to illness but still sits seven points clear of the Welshman with two weeks to go. Peter Wright will have cause for concern however, after losing at the Quarter Finals stage in the last three weeks allowing the likes of Price and Joe Cullen to close the gap.
Snakebite sits on 20 points after just one night win, which came in Cardiff back in February, with Price on 18 points after his win last week. Cullen is a point behind The Iceman on 17 after earning another two points, due to Wade’s withdrawal last week.
Sheffield Winner Price will open Night 15 in the O2 but faces a difficult test against Welsh World Cup partner and league leader Jonny Clayton. A win for the World Number Two could put him in the top 4 before Wright plays his Quarter Final match later in the night.
Both players lost in their opening round matches in the Czech Darts Open at the weekend with Clayton losing a last leg decider to Jose Justicia despite averaging in three figures. Price lost a heated affair on stage with back-to-back World Champion Adrian Lewis 6-3, not being the first time the two have clashed on stage.
Michael Smith can still mathematically make the top four but will need to find a night win if he is to achieve a place in Berlin, with Bully Boy the only player in the competition yet to find a night win. He has a very difficult task of playing Michael van Gerwen who will want to win for his chances of finishing top of the league.
Smith joined Joe Cullen in being the only two players of the year to win back-to-back Pro Tour titles, after he won events 15 and 16 in Wigan last week. The Englishman also won his Quarter Final tie in Sheffield with league leader Jonny Clayton after hitting his last dart in hand at double eight to send the Ferret packing.
Van Gerwen played in Prague and reached the Quarter Finals, losing in another Euro Tour event to Luke Humphries who went on to win the whole thing after beating Rob Cross in the Final. Smith like Clayton and Price, lost in the second round to Rowby John Rodriguez 6-4 with Little John recording four maximums on stage.
Arguably the biggest game of the night will be third up on the London stage, with Peter Wright taking on James Wade as both players look to win to escape the chasing pack. A win for James Wade should see him all but confirm his spot in Germany, whilst the World Number One will be desperate to find a win in the competition, with his last coming in Aberdeen on Night 11.
Both players did not play in Prague, with the Machine still recovering from his recent health scare while Wright opted not to play for some rest and recuperation. The World Number One has it all to do, after letting the likes of Price and Cullen come back into it, so a win against Wade will be huge too stop anyone behind him closing the gap.
Joe Cullen is just three points of the top 4, so he too still has a chance of making Finals night with a match against Gary Anderson awaiting the Rockstar in London. The Englishman will see the match as a must win given his current league position, with the winner to play either Wright or Wade in the Semi Finals.
These two met in Rotterdam on Night 7 at the Quarter Final stage and saw a few clashes, with Anderson accusing the Englishman of encroachment and calling him a cheat when the two shook hands at the end of their match which the Rockstar won. Cullen denied any wrongdoing and will have that thought way at the back of his mind with much more important darting issues that need to be sorted tonight.
Action gets underway from seven in London in what promises to be a huge night of darting action as we get down to the final stages of this year’s competition. Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton are first up for the London crowd in the first Quarter Final.
By Harry Masterson
Quarter Finals: Night 15 O2 London
Gerwyn Price v Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith v Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Peter Wright
Joe Cullen v Gary Anderson
Price/ Clayton v Smith/ van Gerwen
Wade/ Wright v Cullen/ Anderson
Winner of SF1 v Winner of SF2
- Jonny Clayton: 34pts
- Michael van Gerwen: 31pts
- James Wade: 25pts
- Peter Wright: 20pts
- Gerwyn Price: 18pts
- Joe Cullen: 17pts
- Michael Smith: 14pts
- Gary Anderson: 9pts