Premier League Darts 2016:
Week 1 Preview
The return of the Betway Premier League of Darts
kicks off tomorrow with the first week being held in Leeds, as Gary Anderson aims to take his first step in retaining his title as he faces off in a rematch of the World Championship Final against Adrian Lewis. The 2016 category is being argued as the tightest
competition to date, as the unpredictability of the matches are extremely hard to call. Let’s look at the first round of fixtures that will kick off the first week.
Peter Wright vs Michael Smith
Kicking off the 2016 Darts Premier League
should be a fantastic encounter between two of the most popular men in the sport to date. The ever so colourful Peter Wright will be looking to start well in this year’s tournament, after he got beat 7-1 in the opening fixture of 2015 against Dave Chisnall.
‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith will be debuting at this year’s Premier League of Darts with an impressive year that has seen him climb to number 8 in the World. He’ll be looking to impress many of the doubters that thinks he cannot hang around with the big boys, as Smith has yet to win a major PDC tournament. Smith doesn’t have an impressive record vs Peter Wright, winning only 1 of their last 5 meetings, back in the 2014 Grand Slam 5-4. However, Smith has been in the better form, narrowly losing out 5 sets to 4 to Raymond van Barneveld in the Quarter Final of the World Championships, after being 3-0 up and reaching the Quarter Final of the Unibet Masters last weekend, getting beat 10-3 by the eventual winner Michael van Gerwen. Wright will be looking to beat Smith, who could potentially one of the easier opportunities for points due to it being his first year in the Premier League. However, the Scotsman shouldn’t take Smith lightly as Smith’s scoring as of late has been superb, and if on song from the beginning, could trouble Wright. However, Wright walks in as slight favourite with the bookmakers, and should see of Smith to get a first win in Week 1.
Michael van Gerwen vs James Wade
After a fantastic win at the weekend, Michael van Gerwen walks into this match as the overwhelming favourite and rightfully so. Wade has really struggled with scoring power over the last few months and has relied on his consistent 100 scoring and neat doubles to help him over the line. In this best of 12 legs matchup, Wade could very easily play for the draw as he is normally pretty difficult to break his throw, however ‘Mighty Mike’ has been playing some superb darts as of late and with a comfortable win over Dave Chisnall Sunday night, he walks into the tournament as the man to beat. A man out of form, Wade will be looking to put on a good performance and give the Premier League a real concerted effort after finishing in 7th place last year. After getting beat comfortably 7-0 and 7-4 last year, Wade will be looking to avenge the devastating defeats by van Gerwen, who will be looking for an impressive start and to deliver a statement to the rest of the competition. However, there can only be one winner. Van Gerwen is playing too well too get beat, and his scoring power is good enough at the minute to break the throw of the Wade at least once, and van Gerwen should do enough to get the win.
Phil Taylor vs Raymond van Barneveld
Two of the greatest ambassadors for the game of Darts will collide in a match that always lives up to expectations. Phil Taylor vs Raymond van Barneveld will face off on the opening night of the Premier League, and how this match isn’t the last of the night just shows the quality of the top tier players. After a fantastic comeback in the back end of last year’s Premier League, Raymond van Barneveld pipped Taylor to the final spot in the Semi Finals, which included 7-4 and 7-2 victories for Barney against his longest nemesis in the PDC. Taylor will be looking for revenge and is currently playing his best darts over the past 18 months after narrowingly getting by van Gerwen 11-10 in the Masters Semi Finals on Sunday. This could very easily go either way and it all depends on who plays better on the night, as form really doesn’t come into it with these two great players. Taylor walks in as favourite with most bookmakers, with Barney out to a 13/5 longshot. Even though Barney had a fantastic World Championships, his form remains inconsistent as he still looks to find his form that won him the same competition in 2014. However, with the match at the start of the tournament, the outcome is difficult to predict, but Barney and Taylor should be a classic.
Gary Anderson vs Adrian Lewis
Anderson vs Lewis are slowly turning into the new Taylor vs Barney match that seems to happen every 3 months. Anderson is coming off a disappointing defeat to Vincent van der Voort, however their last meeting was the infamous 7-5 victory in the World Championship final around a month ago. Lewis and Anderson have played each other 42 times in competitive matches, with Anderson 22-17 up on the win record. Anderson also does have the advantage when it comes to the Premier League fixtures, winning 5 out of the 10 matches, with 3 draws. However, this does not make Anderson favourite and the crowd should expect another unpredictable match tomorrow, the winner could well be either player. Lewis has been in fine form of his own, however a shock defeat to Belgian Kim Huybrechts has saw Lewis come into this match with some doubts. The match should be fast-paced and should flow really well as both players play at a really quick consistent level. Lewis and Anderson should serve up a treat, and Lewis will be looking for revenge after the two defeats he suffered last year 7-1 and 7-3 to Anderson. However, if Lewis can average over 100 and get around 40% on his doubles he’ll be very difficult to beat, but Anderson’s class pays and his scoring power has really been effective as of late and with improvement all the time on his doubles, the Scotsman should win this one.
Dave Chisnall vs Robert Thornton
If current form was to go by , there would be only one winner in this match, and it wouldn’t be Thornton. After two disappointing first round exits at the World Championships and the Unibet Masters, Thornton could be considered lucky to have gained a spot at the Premier League if the draw was much later, but here he is. However, ‘Thorn’ has proven on many occasions he is top class as he looks to make an effective return to the Premier League after missing out in 2015. Chisnall however, has been playing really well recently and after a stunning comeback from 8-0 to beat Thornton 10-9 on Saturday at the Unibet Masters, Chisnall will be looking to extend his good fortune as he looks to have back-to-back wins over Thornton for the first time in a year. The high scoring game of Chisnall is something that Thornton will struggle to match, however Thornton is the better double hitter and if Chisnall is shaky, Thornton will punish him. A strange match to leave as the curtain closer, nevertheless a good game should close the first round of fixtures as both players look to have a solid start to the 2016 Premier League.
By Daniel Hall