On Thursday the world’s top 10 darts players convene in Exeter for Premier League Darts 5 with still everything to play for as they battle for top spot in the table.
Michael van Gerwen remains the favourite to win the Premier League later this year. But challengers Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson are hot on the Dutchman’s heels.
Phase 1 of the Premier League is shaping up nicely, with those at the bottom now nervously seeking wins in an attempt to avoid the cut.
Here are the five fixtures for Premier League Darts 5 in Exeter.
Premier League Darts 5 Fixtures
Dave Chisnall v Raymond van Barneveld
Chisnall has found himself first on the oche in two Premier League meetings already this year. He lost 7-2 to Adrian Lewis in Round 2 before losing 7-3 to Jelle Klaasen last week. Chisnall has not had a productive tournament so far and it’s hard to see how he will get back Van Barneveld here. Barney beat Chisnall 10-5 at the Unibet Masters back in January and has claimed five of their last six meetings. That includes a 7-4 win in last year’s Premier League.
Jelle Klaasen v Kim Huybrechts
Making it in the UK-dominated PDC darts scene can be tricky for other Europeans but both Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts have shown they are capable of scrapping with the best of them on the oche. Klaasen's win over Chisnall was a start for the non-Brits but apart from Van Gerwen their group have struggled on tour. Klaasen has a 4-1 record over Huybrechts, although the Dutchman lost their last meeting 6-5 in November’s World Series of Darts Finals. Expect this clash to be close.
Gary Anderson v Phil Taylor
Were Michael van Gerwen not around then this would be the mouthwatering clash of the Premier League. As it is, chances are either Taylor or Anderson will face (and lose to) Van Gerwen in the Premier League final come the summer. Both men are going strong in Phase 1 this season and will easily make the cut. Taylor has a 71% winning record over Anderson but their last four encounters have been split two apiece. Betting on Phil Taylor may be a bad move here. Anderson beat the Englishman 11-9 at the Unibet Masters in January. Instead, backing the match to go to 12 legs may be a better bet.
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen has won his last six matches against James Wade and only one of those was a close contest. That was a 10-8 victory at the Perth Masters last July which, to be fair to Wade, could have gone either way. However, Michael van Gerwen betting tipsters are rightly backing the Dutchman to saunter through this match. Wade has performed well in the Premier League this year but is still a banker to lose.
Adrian Lewis v Peter Wright
Four men will make up the semi-final places in the Premier League later this year and the fourth — after Van Gerwen, Taylor and Anderson — is likely to be either Adrian Lewis or Peter Wright. So far both men have done their job keeping apace with the frontrunners. On Thursday, punters can expect Wright to shave this match, having beaten Lewis in each of their last three encounters. All three matches were medium-form first-to-six affairs, which is fast becoming a speciality of Wright’s.