The Premier League Darts returns on Thursday night as the competition heads north with week 9 taking place in Leeds, with the second half of the league set to get underway.
Jonny Clayton won Night 8 last week in Birmingham to go level with Michael van Gerwen at the top of the league. Victory for either will see them take the lead at the top with seven weeks to go before the Play Offs in Berlin.
The Welshman stormed to victory last week beating Michael Smith 6-1 in the Quarter Final before finding strong performances in the Semi Final and Final against World Number One Peter Wright averaging 103.68 to win 6-4 against the Scotsman.
He levelled with the Dutchman at the top after dealing James Wade his second Final defeat of the league winning 6-1 in a performance that saw The Ferret average a staggering 111.16. Michael van Gerwen lost in the Quarter Finals to Wade as Clayton took all five points and levelled with the Dutchman at the top.
Week 9 will see van Gerwen return to action and the Dutchman comes into Leeds on the back of yet another Pro Tour win, beating Peter Wright in the final of event 10 on Saturday 8-4. He will take on bottom of the league Gary Anderson with the Scotsman needing points if he is to make the Play-Offs in June.
Van Gerwen has won two nights so far in this year’s competition, winning Night 4 in Exeter before completing back-to-back Night wins as winning in Brighton on Night 5.
The three-time world champion has a commanding lead over Clayton on leg difference and this is mainly down to his superb performance in Exeter, losing just three legs all night including a 6-0 final win over Peter Wright.
Gary Anderson went into Nottingham in night 6 as the league’s bottom player, as he went on to pick up all five points beating good mate Michael Smith in the final. The Flying Scotsman needs a similar performance in Leeds after losing at the Quarter Final stage in the past two weeks, with Anderson now five points of the Play-Off positions.
Jonny Clayton will take on Joe Cullen in the match straight after van Gerwen, and if the Dutchman were to lose, the Welshman could go two points clear at the top.
Cullen himself knows he needs to continue picking up points to keep hold of his position in the Play-Offs, as The Rockstar beat Gerwyn Price 6-3 last week in the Quarter Finals to take two points following on from his win in Rotterdam on Night 7.
Both played in the Players Championship competitions in Barnsley at the weekend as Cullen achieved yet another Quarter Final appearance in Event 11, losing to Rob Cross in a last-leg decider. He averaged 105.59 in beating youngster Ryan Meikle in the Third Round, as well as beating fellow Premier League competitor James Wade in the Last 16.
It’s a repeat of the World Championship final in the opening match of the night as third-placed Peter Wright takes on seventh-placed Michael Smith. Snakebite is just a point of the top two on 16 and will feel his game is back to where it was three months ago reaching the final of event 10 on Saturday.
The Scotsman was very unlucky in Birmingham last week losing to Clayton with a 107.71 average but knows he is still very much in with a shot of winning the competition. Wright is six points clear of fifth-placed James Wade and a win in Leeds could see the world number one back to the top of the league.
Michael Smith reached back-to-back finals in Brighton and in Nottingham losing to Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson. Since then, he has lost at the Quarter Final stage in the last two nights, meaning Bully Boy is now four points of the Play-Offs.
The world number four will know he has to start picking up points if he is to make the top four and Leeds is an opportunity to do just that starting with Wright.
The last Quarter Final of the night sees James Wade take on Gerwyn Price with the Englishman ahead by just a point in the table. Both will know how important it is to get a win, as Wade sits in fifth closely followed by Price in sixth.
The Iceman will know he needs points if he is to win the competition for the first time, especially having played a week less than the rest as he withdrew from Night 5 in Brighton with injury. Price has won one night so far in the league picking up the £10,000 prize in Belfast on Night 3, hitting two nine-darters in the Semi-Final against Michael van Gerwen and then his opponent Wade in the Final.
Englishman Wade has reached a night Final on two separate occasions in the League thus far but remains one of two players yet to win a night with Michael Smith being the other, also losing in two finals. Despite not winning a night though, the Machine is still just two points of the Play-Offs and a win against Price could put him in the top four, should Joe Cullen lose to Jonny Clayton.
Action gets underway at 7 on Sky Sports with reigning world champion Peter Wright opening Night 9 in Leeds.
Night 9 Quarter Finals:
Michael Smith v Peter Wright
Gary Anderson v Michael van Gerwen
Joe Cullen v Jonny Clayton
James Wade v Gerwyn Price
Smith/ Wright v Anderson/ van Gerwen
Cullen/ Clayton v Wade/ Price
Winner of SF1 v Winner of SF2
- Michael van Gerwen: 17pts
- Jonny Clayton: 17pts
- Peter Wright: 16pts
- Joe Cullen: 12pts
- James Wade: 10pts
- Gerwyn Price: 9pts
- Michael Smith: 8pts
- Gary Anderson: 7pts
Words: Harry Masterson
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