Peter Wright became world number one despite losing in the last 16 at the UK Open on Sunday and will receive the legendary call from John McDonald in Brighton on Thursday night.
He plays third in the league Jonny Clayton with “Snakebite” looking to extend his lead at the top of the league. Wright has made a strong start to the premier league so far, with two appearances in the final in four nights so far. He won night 1 in Cardiff in emphatic fashion as he beat hometown hero Jonny Clayton 6-1 in the final, with a 113 average and a 121 checkout to close the match out. He reached the final last week but was beaten by an unstoppable Michael van Gerwen.
Jonny Clayton started the premier league strong with two appearances in the final also for the Welshman. Clayton claimed victory in the second night of the competition defeating Joe Cullen 6-4 in Liverpool, with the “ferret” looking to reclaim the title he won last year.
There has been a drop in form in recent weeks by Clayton with no points in the last two weeks in Belfast and Exeter, so the showdown with Wright is huge for his chances of making the play offs with others starting to find form beneath him.
Second placed Michael van Gerwen will hope for a performance like last week as he takes on James Wade in the third quarter final of the night. The green machine dropped just three legs as he stormed to victory on night four with comfortable wins over Clayton, Wright, and Michael Smith. The performance has put him just a point of top spot and a win against Wade would do that should Peter Wright lose.
James Wade reached the quarter finals of the UK Open, going into the tournament as the defending champion. The “Machine” in the process hit a stunning nine darter against Boris Krcmar in one of three in Minehead, with Wade looking to find that form as he heads for Brighton on Thursday.
The former premier league winner currently sits 5th in the table behind Gerwyn Price on legs difference in 4th, so the quarter final clash with van Gerwen will be a must win if he is to reach the play offs come the end of the night.
Wade also reached world number three in the rankings after his performance in the UK Open with van Gerwen now number five.
Michael Smith yet again narrowly missed out on a televised title with an 11-10 defeat to Danny Noppert in the final on Sunday, making it another missed chance for “Bullyboy” as Noppert claimed his first PDC major. He faces Gary Anderson in the opening match of the night in Brighton with the loser to end the night at the foot of the table.
Smith won his first match of the competition last week in Exeter as he defeated Joe Cullen 6-5, so the tie with Anderson will be seen as a must win in his attempts to push on in the competition. The Englishman is now world number four after the UK Open with his appearance in the final, and Anderson will be a fixture where Smith will be looking to bounce back.
Gary Anderson was knocked out early at the UK Open with the draw giving the Scotsman Michael van Gerwen in the third round, with the Scotsman not making the best of starts to 2022 after his semi-final appearance at the World Championship back in January.
The former world champion has only won one match in this year’s premier league as he beat van Gerwen on Night 1 in Cardiff, making him and Smith the only players to not reach the final of a night in this year’s competition.
The final quarter final will see former world champion Gerwyn Price take on Joe Cullen with Price now world number two after his UK Open performance on Sunday. The “Iceman” lost to Michael Smith in the quarters in a blow to his world number one hopes, with the Welshman needing to reach the final to defend his ranking money.
He sits third in the league going into the tie with Cullen with Price not winning the premier league so far not winning the competition in his darting career thus far. Last week saw Price lose out in the quarter finals to Wright 6-2 allowing to James Wade to go level on points in the table.
Price was critical of the crowd once more in Minehead as he was defeated, with Michael Smith apologising to the Welshman for the way in which he won in a kind sporting gesture. A bounce back is required in Brighton because a strong performance could result in top spot for the world number two.
Joe Cullen like Gary Anderson received a tough draw in Minehead with a tie against the now world number one Peter Wright. The Englishman has dropped off since his back-to-back victories in Wigan with a huge drop in form in recent competitions. Cullen lost in the quarter finals last week in Exeter handing Michael Smith his first win of the competition.
Cullen has still made a decent start to life in the Premier League in his first appearance in the competition. He reached the final in Liverpool on night two but has lost in his quarter final clashes in the other three weeks, with the “Rockstar” looking to bounce back and gain points to push for the play offs. The 11th seed won the master’s back in January to earn his spot in the league, hunting for that form in the league as Brighton awaits.
The action gets underway at 7pm live on Sky Sports Arena with the darting action set to commence once more.
Gary Anderson v Michael Smith
Peter Wright v Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Joe Cullen v Gerwyn Price
Anderson/ Smith v Wright/ Clayton
Van Gerwen/ Wade v Cullen/ Price
Winner of SF1 v Winner of SF2
Report By Harry Masterson
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