Michael van Gerwen secured top spot in the league phase of the Premier League for a remarkable sixth year running with a 7-2 demolition job over Rob Cross in Birmingham, delivering his best performance of the campaign to follow his worst Premier League display in three years last week.
Elsewhere, Daryl Gurney’s faint hopes of reaching Finals Night became even fainter, but still remotely alive, as the Northern Irishman secured a hard-fought draw with Michael Smith while Raymond van Barneveld defeated Gary Anderson 7-3 in the final game of the evening. Gurney needs Anderson to lose 7-0 while also winning 7-0 himself in Aberdeen in order to reach The O2.
Van Gerwen, Michael Smith and Rob Cross are all confirmed for the final four shootout now.
Peter Wright 7-4 Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright moved off of bottom spot, in the second phase of the tournament, with victory over Simon Whitlock in a less than spectacular opener at Arena Birmingham.
‘Snakebite’ took a 2-0 lead with consecutive tidy finishes of 76 and 68 as Whitlock started off a theme that would continue for him throughout the match, continued missed doubles.
While the Australian hit D10 for leg three he would lose three of the next four legs to trail 5-2 after seven through a mix of clinical finishing from Wright but also wasteful errors on the double from himself. ‘The Wizard’ though, fought back with a 56 checkout and then D4, capitalising on sloppy doubles from Wright himself.
Leg ten put paid to Whitlock’s comeback however as a wonderful 118 finish from ‘Snakebite’ sapped the life out of the Australian. To confirm the result, Wright followed up with a 50 checkout in leg eleven for a 7-4 win to swap places in the table with his opponent.
Rob Cross 2-7 Michael van Gerwen
Michael van Gerwen responded to his lacklustre showing last week with a simply stunning, best performance of the campaign in demolishing world champion Rob Cross. The victory confirmed ‘Mighty Mike’ tops the table for the sixth year in a row, gaining a £25,000 bonus for doing so.
The world number one was on brilliant form, averaging over 120 as he raced into a 4-0 win in double quick time. The Dutchman’s outrageous scoring for far too much for ‘Voltage’, this despite the reigning world champion not playing badly himself at all in averaging 101.
Indeed, Cross was very game in taking two legs off of MvG, in leg five with a 78 checkout and leg seven, but he was ultimately powerless to prevent the end result. Van Gerwen’s highlight of a montage reel of a match from him came in leg six when he delivered a typically showstopping 144 checkout to the delight of the watching crowd.
An 86 checkout ended on the bull rounded off a sensational victory confirming that MvG will certainly be the man to beat on May 17.
Daryl Gurney 6-6 Michael Smith
Daryl Gurney fought back from 4-2 behind to secure a hard-fought draw against Michael Smith which keeps his extremely slim hopes of reaching Finals Night alive.
It was Smith though who was the quickest out of the gates, despite losing the opening leg, as he broke in the third leg on D19 before consolidating his break with D10 to take a 3-1 advantage. In doing so, ‘Bully Boy’ confirmed his play-off place for The O2, much deserved a brilliant second Premier League campaign.
Gurney began to show his fight in leg five however with an incredible 147 finish that stunned his English opponent. ‘SuperChin’ would continue on the charge, winning leg seven on D18 before registering the night’s best checkout with an outrageous 167 checkout that displayed plenty of guts and skill.
For the first time since the opening leg Gurney was now in the lead after leg nine as the Northern Irishman made hay with a 11-darter. Smith would peg him back with D10 in leg ten but Gurney was able to secure at least a point with tops in leg eleven.
Unfortunately for Gurney’s play-off hopes, Smith fought back with an 81 checkout on the bull to complete a 12-darter, denying ‘SuperChin’ an invaluable second point.
Gary Anderson 3-7 Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson failed to confirm his place at The O2 on May 17 in Birmingham as he was soundly beaten by a very game performance from Raymond van Barneveld, who averaged 100 and hit 7/13 attempts on the doubles.
‘Barney’ started as he meant to carry on with his trademark fluid action in full flow during an opening three leg purple patch where the Dutchman broke twice to take a 3-0 leg lead.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ fought back with a break in leg four but the Scot would lose two of the next three legs as van Barneveld asserted his stranglehold on the contest with clinical two dart combinations of 59 and 90.
Anderson took his final leg of the match with a 95 checkout in leg nine but it was Raymond van Barneveld who would seal the deal with D8 to leave Anderson needing a single leg, mathematically, in Aberdeen to confirm his Finals Night place. Daryl Gurney still has the smallest bit of hope left but needs the most remarkable of turnarounds to reach The O2.