The Premier League of Darts makes its comeback in Newcastle this week with players vying for the £250,000 prizemoney on the 23rd May at the O2 . World Number One and current World Champion Michael van Gerwen goes in search for his fourth consecutive Premier League title while six of the remaining players attempt to land their first.
Our darts expert runs through his thoughts for this week’s matches.
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade returns to the Premier League this year and after an absence in 2018, he heads into this tournament in fine form after being edged out in Sunday’s Masters final by van Gerwen. Van Barneveld on the other hand, should consider himself lucky to even be part of the event having received a wildcard despite being ranked 28 in the Order of Merit.
‘The Machine’ got the better of Barney in their last meeting in an 11-2 drubbing, but RVB tends to step up in the big tournaments and with this being his final Premier League appearance before retirement, the Dutchman will be the crowd favourite.
James Wade heads the betting at 11/10 but I’m backing the draw at 10/3.
Gerwyn Price v Daryl Gurney
Following his controversial win in the Grand Slam of Darts last year, Gerwyn Price has since been knocked out at the first opportunity in the last three tournaments. The Welshman joins the Premier League for the second year after his relegation last year and, having averaged under 90 while failing to pick up a win in the entire tournament, he’ll want to improve heavily on his 2018 campaign.
‘Superchin’ Daryl Gurney is another player heading into the Premier League slightly out of form. The Northern Irishman was 6-2 up against Dave Chisnall in last week’s Masters before succumbing to a 10-8 defeat. Prior to that, his loss in the third round of the World Championship was another shock, however, he’s still 11/10 favourite to beat Price on Thursday.
Whilst both players aren’t throwing their best arrows, I think Gurney’s the much better player and I believe he’ll win this one 7-3, which is backable at 7/1.
Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith
In a repeat of the World Championship Final, van Gerwen looks to retain his Premier League crown against ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith. MVG is far and away the best player in the world at the moment, and at 6/5, the Dutchman is the big favourite to win the Premier League for a fourth year running.
Smith had a great World Championship when finishing as runner-up, but you could argue his route to the final was straightforward. Appearing in the finals of the two biggest tournaments should give Bully Boy confidence heading into 2019, but there’s still room for improvement if he’s going to challenge MVG on a regular basis.
Van Gerwen’s scoring power is better than anyone’s, however, he often hits several 177’s with a tendency to switch to triple 19’s on his last dart. He hit 46 180’s to Smith’s 64 in the World Championships, so I’ll back Michael Smith to hit the most 180’s at 6/5 with Grosvenorsport.com.
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