The Premier League of darts is back, with points for winning up for grabs and also the chance to snatch a draw because of the unique equal leg possibilities, it is up to Newcastle for the opening matches of week one. The top four in the league table on merit will make the play offs, so away we go.
Kim Huybrechts was up against crowd and bookies favourite James Wade in the opener and it was Huybrechts who had the first throw. Instantly Wade snatched the darts from Huybrechts as he made a total hash of his first three darts, showing some signs of nerves. Wade took the leg on double 10 and then just missed tops for a 160 out in leg two. He returned next throw and made no mistake despite being forced to double 5, to move 2-0 up. Huybrechts slotted the first 180 of the match and opened up a decent lead in the third leg; Wade added some pressure with a 180 of his own but it was too late as Huybrechts put away double 8 for 2-1. Wade raced ahead in leg four before a superb 96 on double 18 sealed it in quick time, 3-1 Wade. Huybrechts was first to the double, leaving 32 in the very next leg with Wade well back not on a finish; Huybrechts struggled before taking the leg on double 4. Wade was away the quicker in the 6th leg but conspired to miss the double 18 on his second 96 effort of the night, Huybrechts snatched the leg on double 16 to level proceedings at 3-3. Huybrechts was now growing in confidence after a shaky start and blasted in a 171 to leave 25 but snatched at the double on his return. Amazingly, Wade had another go at 96 and this time he closed it out on double 9 to go back ahead in the match at 4-3. A good 121 coupled with a 120 put Wade on an 80 chance but he missed tops. Huybrechts was way back but Wade still needed another four darts for the leg on double 10. Wade was now only two legs away from the match until Huybrechts stopped the rot with an incredible 134 to hold his throw and half the deficit. A 180 from Wade set him on the way in leg ten that he won on double 10 to at least secure a point in his opening match, 6-4. Huybrechts punished some poor scoring from Wade in the next, just missing tops for a 157 but it didn’t matter as he came back to secure double 10 and give him a chance in the final leg to grab a point. Wade stepped it up in the final leg with a superb 180 then a 141 to leave 40 for the match. No mistake from Wade, 7-5 and the points in the bag.
Game two was a battle of former world champions, Raymond van Barneveld versus Adrian Lewis and it was van Barneveld who fired in a 180 to leave himself tops in the first leg but he managed to miss six darts at the double. Lewis crawled back into the leg and took it on double 16 against the odds. Lewis capitalised on more missed doubles from van Barneveld in the second leg, clocking in double 16 to go two up. Despite a 180 from Lewis, van Barneveld managed to squeeze in a double 8 in the next leg to hit his first double in eleven darts. Lewis took control of leg four, leaving a handy 28 that he polished off first dart to put him 3-1 to the good. Lewis took the next leg as the frustration grew on van Barneveld’s face as he found himself 4-1 behind, struggling on his doubles. It was Lewis’s time to collapse on the doubles, leaving 60 with van Barneveld way back but he couldn’t see it off and van Barneveld fought back to take the leg on double 4. In the next van Barneveld left an easy 56 but missed his 13th and 14th darts at a double; luckily for him Lewis was unable to finish 41 and he returned to make it 4-3 and the momentum building. A poor 44 from Lewis and a 180 from van Barneveld saw him slot 81 to level the match in the eighth leg. Van Barneveld was soon down to 36 in the next leg with a chance to lead for the first time in the match; a chance he took on his next visit on double 18. Lewis looked favourite for leg ten rattling in a magical maximum to leave 32. Lewis sorted the double 16 no problem, 5-5. A poor 43 start from van Barneveld gave Lewis the advantage in the next leg but he couldn’t respond and threw a series of poor darts himself before he made a big 180. It wasn’t enough for the man from the Potteries as a superb double 11 guaranteed at least a point for van Barneveld with a cool 84 out shot. In the last leg of the night Lewis left 36 with van Barneveld on a 170 to try and save the leg. After hitting the two treble 20’s to start the combination van Barneveld agonisingly landed in the 25 when attacking the bull finish. With van Barneveld presuming a score draw was on the cards Lewis inexplicably missed with all three darts on his visit and van Barneveld buried the 25 needed to take the match, 7-5.
Phil Taylor faced Dave Chisnall in the third tussle of the night and Chisnall knocked in the first 180 of the match with his second throw but it wasn’t enough as Taylor nailed double 8 despite missing five darts at it. Chisnall added another 180 in leg two and left himself a 143 chance but he was all over the place leaving 113 whilst Taylor had a 51 effort for the leg that he disposed of easily. 2-0 Taylor. A third 180 from Chisnall in leg three gave him a chance at 66 and this time he took it out to get a point on the board. Taylor was first on an out shot leaving a 144 in the next leg that he could only leave on 99. Chisnall clawed back to needing 25 but blew his chance on the double 8 allowing Taylor back to punish Chisnall’s disastrous doubling and move 3-1 up. Leg five was a scrappy affair with neither playing making any sort of scoring with Taylor eventually edging out double 11 to go three legs ahead and put him in total control without playing anything like his best darts. Chisnall smashed another 180 in the next leg and found a superb 160 combination on tops in a finish that belied the contest so far, 4-2. Chisnall added his fifth 180 to give him a great chance in the next leg, requiring 110 but it was Taylor who stunned him with a 121 out shot on the bull to move 5-2 up. Chisnall was now under the cosh as Taylor steadied himself for another 121 chance but this time he couldn’t make it. Chisnall then turned the tables on Taylor giving him some of his own medicine with a fantastic 134 out. Leg nine saw more slack darts from both players until Taylor carved a chance at 117 that he cleaned up on double top to guarantee at least a point, 6-3. Chisnall now with it all to do in the tenth leg and he needed just 74 to stay in the match but he couldn’t produce what was needed; Taylor took full advantage on double tops to round off the match and claim all the points, winning 7-3.
It was now time for the green machine as Michael van Gerwen, in a repeat of the World Championship final faced arch rival Gary Anderson. The Scotsman got it all away with a 140 and some steady ton plus scores saw both players race to a finish. Van Gerwen bull finished 84 to take the opener in twelve darts. A 180 in the next leg from van Gerwen put him on a two dart 88 but he pulled up short leaving 14 that he notched to go 2-0 up. Anderson had a chance in the third leg leaving 140 for a 78 that he completed on double 6 no problem. A 180 from van Gerwen put him in control in leg four and left him a handy 47 that he took out no problem for an eleven darter, 3-1. Leg five was taken on tops by Anderson to pull a leg back and he made his first maximum in the next leg followed by a 177 to leave 86. This time Anderson couldn’t pull it off though and van Gerwen slotted a 45 combination for the leg. The game was being played at a frenetic pace as Anderson pulled another leg back to make it 4-3. Four perfect darts opened up a big lead for van Gerwen in leg eight but when he just missed the bull Anderson took out 130 with a double double finish, incredible darts from the Scotsman to level the match. Anderson made it 5-4 on double two to take the lead for the first time in the match but the lead was short lived as van Gerwen saw off 63 to square the contest at five all. Poor darts crept into the opening of the eleventh leg and it was Anderson who struggled more trying to find the treble. Van Gerwen just missed the bull to secure a point and had to watch as Anderson finished off 114 on tops for the leg. The final leg saw van Gerwen romp away as Anderson suffered a bounce out allowing the man in lime green to call in 68 to take a share of the spoils, 6-6 in a truly fantastic match.
The last match here in Newcastle saw Peter Wright and Jelle Klaasen go head to head. Wright took the first leg on double 4 with Klaasen waiting to pounce on tops. Leg two saw Wright pull away with a 180, helped furthermore by some poor darts from Klaasen. Wright missed a double 16 effort and Klaasen made it one apiece after a 180 had put the pressure on Wright. The third leg was Klaasen’s for the taking; needing just 55 he managed to miss his doubles and it was Wright who popped up with a tremendous 120 on tops to go 2-1 up. Wright struggled in the next, back in the 200’s as Klaasen finished on double 16 to level the tie. Klaasen slotted another 180 on his way to claiming the next leg with a 68 tops finish to break the throw of Wright and go 3-2 up. Klaasen should’ve made it 4-2 but he bust his score when on the double allowing Wright to pick off 43 to make it all square once again, 3-3. A slack couple of visits from Klaasen in the next leg let Wright in and he made short work of taking out 81 to go ahead in the match. Wright just missed a 138 on double 12 but on his return could not see it off with his next three darts; Klaasen took the bait and levelled it all up once again, 4-4. Wright claimed leg nine on double 10 with his last dart after Klassen has wired double 12 for the leg on his throw. Wright was back again biting at the heels of Klaasen moving two legs up on double 8 in the next leg and guaranteeing at least a draw. Wright kicked off the next leg with a 180 but missed four match darts. Klaasen now had a chance but it was to no avail, he missed the double with his last dart; Wright stepped up, aimed down at double two and sealed the match 7-4.
Betway Premier League
Night One – Thursday February 2
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Kim Huybrechts 5-7 James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor 7-3 Dave Chisnall
Gary Anderson 6-6 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 7-4 Jelle Klaasen