The Premier League returns for Night 11, this week in Aberdeen as the race for the Play-Offs heats up with just six weeks left to play before Finals night in Berlin. Michael van Gerwen leads the way on 22 points, one point ahead of Jonny Clayton as he prepares to face World Number Two Gerwyn Price in the final group match of the night.
James Wade found his first victory on his fourth final appearance, beating Joe Cullen in a last-leg decider in Manchester last week to strengthen his position in the Play-Offs and move third on legs difference. Wade’s victory means Michael Smith is the only player left in the League yet to win the £10,000 bonus for winning a Premier League Night.
Van Gerwen lost in the Quarter Finals in arguably one of the games of the league so far, to Jonny Clayton losing with a 105.14 average. His Welsh opponent scored 109.10 and rightfully earnt himself a place in the Semi-Final but van Gerwen would have felt on another day, his performance would have earnt him a spot in the Semi-Final.
The Iceman also reached the last four last week in Manchester after coming through his Quarter Final with Peter Wright on the back of his change of walk-on song, now coming out to “Katy Perry: Roar”. Price didn’t play in Munich at the weekend because of illness but is ok to play in Aberdeen, and the need for a win is huge as he is now 7 points of the Play-Off Positions.
World Number three van Gerwen reached the Semi-Finals of the German Darts Grand Prix, coming through matches with the likes of Chris Dobey and Rob Cross with his average in three figures. His run came to an end at the hands of overall winner Luke Humphries who beat the Dutchman 7-0 with a 107.36 average, so will hope for a return to winning ways against the Iceman on Thursday.
Gary Anderson must start winning games if he is to have any hope of making the Play-Offs, as he returns to play in front of his home fans on Night 11. The Flying Scotsman will open the night but has the difficult task of playing second-placed Jonny Clayton who comes into Aberdeen on the back of a Quarter-Final appearance in Munich three days ago.
The Scotsman will need a repeat of Nottingham on night 6 if he is to have any hope of clawing back an 11-point deficit from fourth-placed Peter Wright, and a win against Clayton would certainly kick start any chance of a run, especially in front of a crowd that will back him all the way.
The Ferret sits comfortably in the Play-Off positions, one point of league leader van Gerwen because of his Semi-Final defeat to Joe Cullen last week. Six points separate Clayton from fifth-placed Cullen with just six weeks left to play now, starting with Aberdeen and a matchup with home favorite Anderson.
Joe Cullen is the nearest challenger to the Play Off Positions as he faces fourth placed Peter Wright who will also play in his native country in front of his home fans. This will be Snakebite’s first appearance in Scotland where he will be introduced by John McDonald as the World Number One and a Two Time Reigning World Champion.
Snakebite lost to Gerwyn Price in the opening match in Manchester last week but sits level with James Wade in the table behind on legs difference from the Machine. Wright lost his only match in Munich to Scott Waites, but held on to his World Number One spot after Price’s withdrawal.
Cullen has won one night so far in this year’s competition beating Michael van Gerwen in the final in front of his home fans on night 7 in Rotterdam. The Rockstar has reached three finals losing last week in Manchester to Wade in his third and Jonny Clayton in Liverpool on night 2 on his first appearance. World Number 11 Cullen, like his opponent on Night 11 lost his only match in Munich on Saturday to Wesley Plaisier.
Michael Smith is the only player left in the competition who hasn’t won a night, and like Gary Anderson needs points quick if he is to finally win his first PDC major title. Bully Boy is 10 points off the Play Offs so two-night wins would get him back into it whilst hoping that certain other players drop points in the final six weeks, in what is a mountain to climb for Smith.
He faces last week’s winner James Wade in the other Quarter Final in Aberdeen and knows anything other than a win, could see his task become too difficult to make the top four. Wade is one of the players in the all-important Play Off positions and will hope for a fourth consecutive final appearance having reached the final in Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester.
The World Number four reached the third round in Munich on Saturday, again like Michael van Gerwen losing to overall winner Luke Humphries. Wade, Anderson, and Price were the three players in the League who didn’t take part in the European Tour event across the weekend.
The Machine has earnt more points than anyone since Night 8, taking 11 points from three nights in what has seen him earn him a 6-point cushion from fifth-placed Joe Cullen and third spot from Peter Wright. A win for Wade will put him in good stead for confirming his place in Berlin on June 13th, and dent Smith’s hopes of a Semi-Final spot.
Action will begin on Sky Sports from 7pm tonight with Gary Anderson set to receive a hero’s welcome ahead of the opening match of the night with Jonny Clayton.
Quarter Finals: Night 11 Aberdeen
Jonny Clayton v Gary Anderson
Peter Wright v Joe Cullen
James Wade v Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price v Michael van Gerwen
Clayton/ Anderson v Wright/ Cullen
Wade/ Smith v Price/ van Gerwen
Winner of SF1 v Winner of SF2
- Michael van Gerwen: 22pts
- Jonny Clayton: 21pts
- James Wade: 18pts
- Peter Wright: 18pts
- Joe Cullen: 15pts
- Gerwyn Price: 11pts
- Michael Smith: 8pts
- Gary Anderson: 7pts
Words: Harry Masterson