Can Anybody Stop Van Gerwen in the Premier League Darts Playoffs?
Mighty Michael van Gerwen is on another mission this week, to retain his PDC Premier League Darts title crown for the fourth year in a row and the fifth time in the past seven years. Incredibly, in the other two tournaments in that period, van Gerwen only lost in the final.
The Dutchman’s dominance in the event was confirmed last week when a victory for him over Mensur Suljovic, followed by defeat for Rob Cross to James Wade, ensured that van Gerwen would finish the league stage as the player at the top of the table. His unerring consistency and brilliant finishing making him the man to beat this week at the 02 Arena in London where the playoffs will be contested.
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Before that though, there is the culmination of what has been an intense season of Premier League Darts, with the league coming to an end last week and the four players that made it through to the playoffs decided.
Premier League Season Review
It was an interesting season in the Premier League with two players, Rob Cross and Michael van Gerwen occupying the top spots in the table most of the time over the 15 weeks. At one point James Wade joined the frey and while the Englishman did drop a little off the pace set by the front two, it was hardly surprising when by week 14, these three were confirmed as having earned themselves a place in the playoffs.
Before that though, Raymond van Barneveld had been eliminated on Judgement Night after this years league was reduced to 9 players due to Gary Andersons’ injury. With a special guest player each week through the first nine weeks of games taking Anderson’s spot (but not playing in the Premier League) it was an unusual start to the campaign.
In Phase 2, it was very much a story of the race for the fourth playoff spot. With Peter Wright and Michael Smith out of contention early on, Daryl Gurney put together a fine run of form over the last four weeks of the event to steal fourth in the table ahead of Gerwyn Smith, who had a much-improved Premier League this time around, and the Austrian Mensur Suljovic.
- Michael van Gerwen – 23
- Rob Cross – 22
- James Wade – 20
- Daryl Gurney – 19
- Gerwyn Price – 18
- Mensur Suljovic – 17
- Michael Smith – 10
- Peter Wright – 9
- Raymond van Barneveld – 4 (eliminated on Judgement Night)
- Highest 3-dart Average – 101.94 – Michael van Gerwen
- Highest Checkout Percentage – 49.08% – Michael van Gerwen
- Highest Checkout – 170 – Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith & Raymond van Barneveld
Premier League Playoffs – Preview
As is customary in the Premier League, the top seed takes on the fourth placed player in the table, with the second and third placed players meeting in the second semifinal. This sets up two intriguing matches with Michael van Gerwen facing Daryl Gurney, while in the other match James Wade and Rob Cross will meet again, just a week after clashing in the final league game of the season in Leeds.
Players are competing for a cash prize of £250,000 for the winner, with £120,000 for the runner up, while the losing semi-finalists will each take home £80,000. Michael van Gerwen has already picked up a bonus of £25,000 for winning the league stage of the tournament.
Michael van Gerwen v Daryl Gurney
Previous Meetings in the Tournament
- Week 7 (Berlin) – Michael van Gerwen 5-7 Daryl Gurney
- Week 13 (Manchester) – Daryl Gurney 8-5 Michael van Gerwen
If one player has held an Indian sign over Michael van Gerwen in this year’s Premier League tournament it is the Northern Irishman Daryl Gurney. After beating the top ranked player in the world in Week 7, Gurney then went one better in Manchester six weeks later earning an even more impressive 8-5 victory.
Since that loss, van Gerwen has won his next two games to ensure he finished top of the league table (against Wright and Suljovic) and he will be feeling he is in good form heading into this game, although he will know that Gurney does have the game to beat him.
However, with the semifinals the best of 19 legs, the longer format does tend to play into van Gerwen’s hand more so than Gurney and as such, I would agree with the bookmakers that he is the favourite here, but I don’t think it is quite as clear cut as some of the prices on van Gerwen would have you believe.
Tip – Back Michael van Gerwen to win 10-8, which is a 15/2 shot with bet365 Sport.
Rob Cross v James Wade
Previous Meetings in the Tournament
- Week 2 (Glasgow) – Rob Cross 7-4 James Wade
- Week 15 (Leeds) – James Wade 8-6 Rob Cross
Since losing to Mensur Suljovic in the opening round of Phase 2, James Wade has not lost a Premier League darts match, winning three and drawing three of his six other games. In terms of consistency, not even van Gerwen can match Wade over this period and with a fresh victory over Cross from last week very much in the forefront of his mind, the Aldershot-based player will be hoping to reach his fourth Premier League final.
Wade has won one of those last three finals and he is the only other champion of this event along with van Gerwen left in it. Rob Cross however is a former World Champion and over the course of he full 15 weeks of action, he has looked like he is getting back to the form that saw him land that amazing win at Lakeside in 2018.
Cross’ problem has been dealing with Michael van Gerwen as he has suffered two heavy defeats to the Dutchman in the Premier League this season (7-2 in Dublin on Week 3, 8-2 in Cardiff in Week 11) but against the other players he has performed very well.
Tip – This will be a close one but I think Wade will just shade it, back James Wade to win 10-9 at 8/1 with bet365.
Who wins the Final?
Assuming my prediction is right we would see a Wade v van Gerwen final and I feel Wade has the skills to beat van Gerwen based on current form. You can back Wade to win the tournament at 13/2 with bet365.