The Premier League is back with new walk-on songs and vital matches, as the second half of the competition continues with the race to finish in the top four beginning to take a little shape.
The competition makes its way to Manchester for Week 10, with the eight participants all needing points to make the top four with the likes of Michael Smith and Gary Anderson winless in their last three weeks of matches. The Flying Scotsman missed last week in Leeds and saw the gap between him, and the Play-Offs extend to 6 points.
Michael van Gerwen has won three nights so far in the league including last week’s night in Leeds after beating James Wade 6-1 in the Final.
Mighty Mike is three points clear of Jonny Clayton in second as the two face each other in the third Quarter Final of the night, with the winner set to gain two points on the other. Clayton is the only other player in the league to win multiple nights having won in Liverpool on night 2 and Birmingham two weeks ago.
The Ferret reached the Last 16 of event 13, as well as the Quarter Finals in Barnsley over the weekend and included an impressive 108.65 average in whitewashing Martin Schindler on the Saturday.
Clayton knows the importance of the match with van Gerwen and hopes for more fortune against the Dutchman in the League, having beat him in the Semi-Finals on the road to winning the competition for the first time last year.
The top two in the Premier League meet, also the top two in the PDC rankings will also face off in the opening Quarter-Final as World Champion Peter Wright faces Gerwyn Price, with the Welshman set to enter Manchester with a brand-new walk-on song.
Price throughout his career in the PDC has entered the stage to “Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice” but has changed now to “Roar by Katy Perry” having heard it on a trip with his family. The World Number 2 is in trouble in the league, sitting in the sixth position with seven weeks of matches left to play. He is four points of the Play-Offs, so a run in the mini-tournament is huge to boost his chances of making the top four.
The Welshman has a difficult task though in his Quarter Final, taking on third-placed Peter Wright who reached his sixth Semi-Final last week in Leeds, so knows what it takes to get past the first match on the oche. Snakebite averaged 103.99 in last week’s 6-1 win over Michael Smith, allowing him to get to 18 points overall with six now separating the World Number 1 and fifth-placed Joe Cullen.
Both players won early in the competition, with Price winning in Belfast on the third night including two nine-darters whilst Wright won the opening night in Cardiff averaging 113.02 in the Final against Jonny Clayton.
James Wade is in the Play-Offs despite not winning a night in the competition, reaching 13 points having made it to yet another Final last week. He faces Gary Anderson in the second match of the night, with Anderson returning to the oche having missed last week in Leeds with a positive COVID test.
The Machine is a point clear of fifth-placed Joe Cullen, and a win here will only help Wade strengthen his position in the Play-Offs. The Flying Scotsman needs to start winning and fast, having not won in the competition since his night 6 victory over Michael Smith in the Final with a 104.20 average.
The five points in Nottingham and his opening night victory over Michael van Gerwen has given the World Number 6 a total of seven points in the competition so far, resulting in his task to make the top four becoming more and more difficult by the week.
A win against a player in the Play-Offs could spark Gary Anderson into playing the darts that have won him two World Championships and a Premier League title. The Scotsman also reached the semi-finals of the Worlds back in January as well as an appearance in the Final of the ProTour back in March.
The last match sees two players hunting down the top four with Joe Cullen in fifth taking on Michael Smith in seventh. A win for the Rockstar could see him into the Play-Offs once more if James Wade was to lose to Gary Anderson in the second match of the night.
The gap between both these players and the top three is too big, but James Wade in fourth is the man they’re looking to catch, with Smith still looking for his first win in the League having lost in two finals already in back-to-back weeks. (Exeter and Brighton)
Joe Cullen will receive a special reception from the Manchester crowd, coming out to a local favourite “Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger” in front of a packed-out Manchester Arena. The Rockstar beat Michael van Gerwen on Night 7 in front of his home fans to pick up the £10,000 win in Rotterdam and will need a good run once more to get closer to those above him.
Michael Smith reached the Semi-Finals of event 12 in Barnsley, losing to eventual winner Dirk van Duijvenbode 7-2 after beating the likes of Adam Gawlas, Ritchie Edhouse and Gordon Mathers to get to the final four. Bully Boy like Gary Anderson is winless in his last three Premier League nights and will hope his game with Cullen doesn’t provide a fourth in a row.
Coverage starts at 7 pm live on Sky Sports with the darting roadshow continuing as it makes its way to Manchester for Night 10.
Quarter Final: Night 10 Manchester
Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
Gary Anderson v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen v Michael Smith
Wright/ Price v Anderson/ Wade
Van Gerwen/ Clayton v Cullen/ Smith
Winner of SF1 v Winner of SF2
Words: Harry Masterson
Darts World Magazine (Issue 578) and 2022 bundle offers
Subscribe or purchase your copy