Tag Archives: Gary Anderson

Mensur Mania reigns in Cardiff

I won’t feed you any PDC propaganda about Mensur Suljovic winning a “major”, because he hasn’t. But as far as exhibitions go, this BBC gig, the Champions League as its called, is just about the best of them. And if anyone was going to become the first new TV winner in a full-strength field since Michael van Gerwen scooped the 2012 World Grand Prix (not including World Series events or Peter Wright’s 2017 UK Open – a tournament without van Gerwen and Taylor), who better than Big Mensur?

One could say that Suljovic was at an advantage over his rivals, in that he likely didn’t give a damn that this tournament was on the BBC — unlike Peter Wright, who frittered away eight match darts against Gary Anderson in their group-stage decider.

Taylor stitches up van Gerwen once again

What to make of van Gerwen, who has now suffered consecutive humiliations on telly to Taylor? There’s no doubt he’s back in Phil’s pocket, who, in what he promises is his final year, has craftily orchestrated the crowd to ensure they give the Dutchman hell. Imbued from his 16–6 dismantling of MvG at the World Matchplay, Taylor felt confident enough to break out the Green Machine’s double fist pump celebration as he dumped him out in the group.

I don’t buy the line that Phil is on a free roll on his last lap of the circuit — his bratty antics in losing to Corey Cadby in Melbourne last month reek of a sorer loser than ever. He cares alright, and after van Gerwen’s dominance over him in recent years — a sustained run Phil had never experienced in his career — he’s revelling in landing a few blows of his own.

Just desserts for van Gerwen, one could argue, having been so overconfident at the Matchplay to text fellow Dutchie Vincent van der Voort during the interval of his second round match against Simon Whitlock to say that he’d already beaten him. Not that we can glean too much from Taylor’s word salad interviews nowadays, but it was clear that had riled him, as he made sure to mention it in his post-match spiel after beating the world number one in Blackpool.

He mused again in Cardiff on how van Gerwen was a bad loser. Hypocritical, but that doesn’t stop it being true.

After storming to his second world title in January, the Dutchman has found himself facing some unlikely adversity. He’s going to keep getting it in the neck against Phil, and right now, he can’t hack it. Frustrating, really, that the PDC’s greatest, most intriguing and genuine rivalry will be no more after January. They really do not like each other.

Taylor has opted out of next month’s Grand Prix, denying us of a showdown there, but we’ll hopefully see them go at it in Wolverhampton for the Grand Slam of Darts or at the World Championship.

Darts in capable hands on the BBC

Unlike the BDO, the PDC has given the BBC something to work with, and they did a capable job once again. Jason Mohammad fronted the coverage well, while Paul Nicholson and Mark Webster proved good sidekicks.

The only real downers were the showings from Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall, who both failed to record a win. That and a boring Taylor-van Barneveld match, which flatters to deceive more often than not now — even their quarter-final at the World Championships felt flat for the majority. Taylor won this one 10–6, for the record. ‘El Dartico’ or ‘darts’ El Clasico’ is rather generous.

It was a far superior event to last year, which was dulled by far too many one-sided contests. Mensur, whose personality we’re starting to become more acclimatised too, was the highlight throughout — his ballsy 160 match-winning checkout in the semis versus Raymond van Barneveld really was a cracker. And he held his nerve well in the final against Anderson, rallying superbly in the latter stages to finish the job, since he looked tetchy after being pegged back to 6–6.

Suljovic winning with a sub-88 average — that was more than 10 points inferior to Anderson’s — was also a delight. It won’t deter those drunk on statistics; we’re sure to keep seeing “leg averages” and being told “you can’t win with anything less than 100 average”. But it’s nice to know darts remains a game of checking out 501 more quickly than your opponent, with each leg being independent from the other.

More darts on the BBC? Yes please. More Mensur Mania? Yes please. More El Darticos? No thanks.

Michael van Gerwen fires fantasy darts in performance for the ages

Picking the correct adjectives is essential when describing sport – labelling every significant moment “fantastic” or “great” just serves to devalue your lexicon. Very rarely do we see the stuff of fantasy that would equate to being fantastic, or an act of true greatness. We have to find ways of separating the highest tiers of brilliance in sport, or we cannot do them justice.

Last night Michael van Gerwen was fantastic. Last night Michael van Gerwen was great. Raymond van Barneveld fell barely short of both descriptors, yet he was still hammered 6-2 in the PDC World Championship semi-final by his ruthless Dutch counterpart.

Yes, van Gerwen’s romp was nearly 10 points shy of his imperfect – yes, imperfect – 123.40 world record average, but you cannot compare eight exhibition legs with eight of the hugest sets in darts. This semi-final showing was the best performance of all-time, beating a subjective honour previously bestowed upon Phil Taylor for his 7-1 thrashing of van Barneveld in the 2009 world final, where his average nudged 111.

Here comes the van Gerwen stats barrage: the highest ever average in a World Championship match 114.05 – almost three points superior to Taylor’s destruction of Shayne Burgess in 2002 –15 180s, 29 140s and a further cluster of big scores utilising the treble 19. Compared to van Barneveld’s two-out-of-three doubling, the 26-year-old was found wanting, but he still nailed more than half of his attempts. Oh, and he missed double 12 for a nine-darter too.

Barring Barney, the least enchanted by this darting wizardry was van Gerwen himself, who espoused the same brutal and commendable honesty he has for weeks. Some call it arrogance, that it may be, but we all know it’s what he’s thinking, and we’re thinking it too. Should he not win seven sets before Gary Anderson does and lift the Sid Waddell Trophy on Monday evening, the year will go down as a failure for Mighty Mike. Beating van Barneveld was another step towards that goal, the manner of it was just a happy little bonus, and something he won’t dwell on or coo over – the rest of us can do that.

Van Gerwen’s stunning second-half assault makes it easy to forget that for the first four sets this match was looking like a classic to end all classics. One constant of this famous rivalry has been van Barneveld’s feisty fight, a trait he has invariably brought to this contest even if it’s been sorely missing elsewhere – last year’s World Championship scalp is well-documented, but the less-talked about 2012 Grand Slam of Darts final is an exquisite example too.

Van Barneveld, seeking a first TV title in more than five years ran into a rampant young protagonist finally finding his feet in the PDC. Van Gerwen had blown away the field, including Phil Taylor, and was seeking a second PDC major to go with his first at the World Grand Prix a month prior, and he was the undeniable favourite to claim it.

But the elder Dutch boss hadn’t read the script. Clutch 180s and key finishes tormented a van Gerwen who just wanted to bulldoze, but he was unable too. Nerves crept in for van Barneveld near the end, but he banished them with a match-winning 11-darter against the throw to pinch the tournament 16-14. For four sets on Sunday we were seeing that same resolve, but in overload.

It was the best van Barneveld, a veteran of more than two decades and a winner of five world championships, had ever played on television, and it came because van Gerwen is the only man able to extract such darts from him. Not even Taylor could inspire Barney to this standard – in fact, after a while, he would rather quit than battle.

In terms of this match, van Gerwen started like a sloth, as van Barneveld cruised to the opening set 3-0 with a settling 107 and a gorgeous 131. All doubts surrounding which RvB would turn up following his long overdue scalp of tormenter Taylor 48 hours earlier diminished.

Red-hot Ray was in an even meaner mood after the break, sinking a never-in-doubt 160 to break – van Gerwen, who was waiting on 25, cast a slightly stunned look but was unperturbed. Then came the most crucial leg of the match, and had van Barneveld won it, he would have taken a commanding two-set lead. But he was never winning it, despite being on double 12 after 12 darts thrown.

Bish, bash, bosh. Triple 20, single 14, double 20 for MvG. A 12-darter, a break, a set back on throw and a dagger in the heart of his opponent. Van Barneveld positioned himself on the same double in the deciding fifth leg after four visits – once again, he never got a shot.

The bizarre was happening at Alexandra Palace. The averages were north of 110, the crowd were watching darts, and ‘Chase the Sun’ had been shunned for ‘Freed from Desire’.

Van Gerwen whizzed to the third set flinging yet more fire, but he was kept honest by his adversary, who pinned a routine 127 effortlessly on his way to levelling the scores after the Green Machine missed tops for a 94 that was, in the context of this match, a blink.

With no precedent for such mastery, one wondered whether the pummelling would eventually tell on somebody. It surely had to, and it did. Van Gerwen, somehow, got better while van Barneveld lost a couple of percentage points – but it was no more than that. MvG didn’t run riot for fun in the latter sets, he did so because he had to. The ageing Dutch master was nipping at his heels throughout, and even flirted at a comeback in the eighth set, before being savagely snuffed out.

A gutted van Barneveld oozed class in a beautifully miserable interview in the backroom after. He was devastated, not in awe. He couldn’t give a jot that he averaged 109 or played in the most mind-boggling match of all-time. Why give a valiant loss the time of the day when you’ve been crowned five times? Van Barneveld and van Gerwen have the same champion brain – there’s no substitute to this tournament and being successful in it.

It’s why van Barneveld has reached the semi-final at this event four times in the last five while generally being a pale shadow elsewhere. He doesn’t care about the rest. Victory in the Premier League was nice but it’s a mere career footnote.

For van Gerwen, oodles of expectation will be on him versus Anderson, who has staved off 11 World Championship challenges as the hunted – however, the 12th will be the Scot’s toughest by far. If van Gerwen has an outing remotely similar to the semi-final, Anderson will have to be more powerful and clinical than ever before. A rubbish cliché, granted, but it is true: if anyone can do it, he can.

The third and possibly deciding part of the Michael van Gerwen-Gary Anderson World Championship saga promises everything. The former won the first but invigorated the latter’s career in doing so, and Anderson repaid the favour 12 months’ later on his way to his first world title.

The darting world awaits a showdown usually only sports entertainment can provide. Buckle up.

Premier League Darts: Table-toppers to face off in Glasgow

High flyers Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall are set to face off in a top-of-the-table clash on the seventh night of the Premier League at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

Old foes Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor meet in the third game of the evening with the struggling Dutchman seeking to stave off relegation in a fortnight’s time.

Gary Anderson will play his first match in Scotland fas world champion when he takes on last-placed Kim Huybrechts while Stephen Bunting goes in search of a third consecutive win against Peter Wright.

Elsewhere, James Wade looks to strengthen his bid for the playoffs in his match with Adrian Lewis – the latter is without a victory in the competition since the opening night.

Dave Chisnall v Michael van Gerwen 

Chisnall’s stint as league leader was short-lived following his loss to Bunting in Nottingham while van Gerwen eventually eased to a 7-3 win against Taylor with an average in excess of 107.

The Dutchman won both of their meetings in last year’s Premier League and is currently on a seven-match winning streak against Chisnall – the St Helens thrower’s last triumph came at the 2013 World Grand Prix. However, their most recent meeting at the Masters in January went to a deciding leg, with van Gerwen needing a 110 average to prevail in an incredible contest.

Inconsistent scoring from Chisnall led to his demise last week and failure to correct this could see him punished again. The world number one has significantly improved his treble-hitting in 2015, a trait that has afforded him more opportunities at doubles, and fewer for his opponents. Chisnall will need to score heavily to keep it close.

Prediction: van Gerwen 7-4 Chisnall

Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor 

Van Barneveld’s defeat to Wade last Thursday has left the defending champion in a perilous position, and his troubles could get worse when he takes on arch-rival Taylor in Glasgow, who is also looking to bounce back after losing a week ago.

The Dutchman secured a first television victory over his nemesis in six years in last year’s semi-final but has been a pale shadow of his former self over recent months, regularly appearing uninterested on stage, and unsure whether to wear glasses or not. Meanwhile, Taylor has produced some up-and-down performances of late but has generally seemed comfortable in the Premier League – where he has played his best.

Much depends on which van Barneveld turns up and if the five-time world champion can start well, this will be a tight affair. A typical Scottish darts crowd can be expected which has a tendency to be anti-English, and boisterous audiences can bother Taylor. But judging on each other’s results this year, and their head-to-head record over the past few seasons, the Englishman should come through comfortably and keep pressure on those ahead of him.

Prediction: Taylor 7-3 van Barneveld

Kim Huybrechts v Gary Anderson

A raucous welcoming for Anderson is guaranteed as he throws his first arrows in his native Scotland as a world champion and after hammering Lewis with a 109 average he starts as favourite against the improving Huybrechts.

The Belgian was narrowly edged out by Wright in Nottingham and finds himself rock-bottom in the league table with just three weeks remaining before two players are eliminated.The two have never clashed on TV before but Anderson holds a 10-4 advantage in their matches on the floor. The Scot is also riding high after claiming a Players Championship win at the weekend in  Barnsley.

An expectant Glasgow could create nerves for Anderson who has been fallible in his home country in the past, and Huybrechts will cash in if given chances. The world champion has little to fear though, and he should cement his position in the top four with two points here.

Prediction: Anderson 7-3 Huybrechts

James Wade v Adrian Lewis 

These two will open the evening’s proceedings and a poor night for Lewis could potentially see him slip into the bottom two. A win over van Barneveld on week six has moved him into the top half of the table, while Lewis has not won in five games.

Wade, fresh from a strong weekend in Barnsley – he won one Players Championship and reached the final of the other – is enjoying a purple patch at the moment and another success here will confirm his playoff credentials. Lewis used a new darts for the first time last week and despite being thrashed by Anderson he did manage an average nigh on 104, which suggests they are worth sticking with.

The two’s extensive rivalry has seen them play 42 times but Wade holds a 6-2 lead in their Premier League encounters – they have also drawn twice. There isn’t too much to choose between them but their records in this competition indicate Wade nicking a tight one.

Prediction: Wade 7-5 Lewis

Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting

After a torrid start Wright has gone unbeaten in his last four outings – winning his first match of the tournament last week – and looks to have finally found an optimum setup with his darts. Bunting has also reversed a poor period, with wins in his last two firing him up into the mid-table.

Wright, who like Anderson is playing on home turf, whitewashed Bunting 10-0 at the UK Open earlier this month but he has lost their other three matches on TV. Both have five points to their name after six weeks, making this an important match as the winner will move close to the top four, while the loser could yet get dragged down into a relegation battle.

This could be the closest bout of the evening with both likely to average around 100, going by the last fortnight. Their scoring should be evenly matched, meaning double-hitting will be even more crucial than normal. The draw is a firm possibility.

Prediction: Peter Wright 6-6 Stephen Bunting

Premier League Darts: Taylor and van Gerwen to meet in Nottingham

Newly-crowned UK Open champion Michael van Gerwen will look to extend his unbeaten run in this year’s Premier League to six weeks against Phil Taylor in Nottingham on Thursday evening.

Dave Chisnall – the league’s early leader – takes on Stephen Bunting, while defending champion Raymond van Barneveld clashes with James Wade.

Adrian Lewis has the chance to condemn Gary Anderson to a third TV defeat in a week, before Kim Huybrechts rounds off the night against UK Open finalist Peter Wright.

Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen

Fresh from another TV title, van Gerwen comes into this showdown as the form horse in world darts. The Dutchman was held to a draw by Wright in Exeter last week, but it was their post-match fracas which stole the headlines, while Taylor overturned an early 4-1 deficit to defeat Wade.

Both are near the peak of their powers at the moment meaning a close affair here is likely. Taylor holds a 26-11 career advantage over van Gerwen but the latter has only been beaten once in their five Premier League encounters. Taylor, however, has prevailed in their last two meetings on TV.

Averages north of 100 should be expected, hence 12-darters will probably be required to break throw. Van Gerwen’s scoring has been heavier and more consistent of late, an edge that makes him a narrow favourite ahead of this contest.

Prediction: van Gerwen 7-5 Taylor

Stephen Bunting v Dave Chisnall 

Bunting and Chisnall will begin the evening’s action in a repeat of their UK Open bout at the weekend – which Bunting won 9-6. Chisnall has been superb so far in this competition, topping the table with nine points, and he averaged over 110 in beating Anderson a week ago.

Meanwhile, Bunting has started to regain some confidence lately, backing up his first Premier League win over Lewis with a run to the last four at the UK, before losing 10-0 to Wright. His victory over Chisnall in Minehead will encourage him ahead of their match in Nottingham, and with only four nights remaining until the bottom two are eliminated, the Liverpudlian could do with some points to break clear of the four-way tie for bottom.

It will be tough for Bunting to match Chisnall’s scoring power though, and providing the league leader doesn’t miss doubles – as he did at the weekend – he should secure another win.

Prediction: Chisnall 7-3 Bunting

Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis 

After losing to Chisnall in Exeter and suffering a horror loss to Mervyn King at the UK Open – he missed 13 match darts – Anderson aims to get back to winning ways this week against Lewis, who has also had a disappointing week.

World champion Anderson is currently fourth in the table with six points while Lewis has managed four, despite winningly only once (against van Barneveld) in five outings. The Scot leads their Premier League head-to-head 3-2, most famously beating Lewis in the 2011 final, and they have drawn three times.

Anderson’s doubling has been haunting him recently and failure to hit them early could see him struggle again. However, Lewis will have to improve on his 91 average against Bunting to punish him. It’s unlikely he’ll play that poorly again though, therefore this should be close.

Prediction: Anderson 6-6 Lewis

Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade

Van Barneveld looked uninterested in his 9-1 hammering by Wright at the UK Open and looks a shadow of the man who has won the world championship five times. His Premier League defence has also yet to kick-start and he finds himself joint-last after five weeks.

Minehead was not the most lucrative of weekends for Wade either who bowed out in the last 16 to eventual semi-finalist Andrew Gilding. Licking his wounds from a frustrating loss to Taylor last Thursday, a fragile van Barneveld presents Wade with a good opportunity to capture two points.

With van Barneveld seemingly more concerned about battling his mind rather than his opponent, a solid showing from Wade could be all he requires to win. Much depends on which van Barneveld turns up however, and if he plays like he did to dismantle Lewis 9-3 at the UK, he may win just as convincingly.

Prediction: Wade 7-5 van Barneveld

Kim Huybrechts v Peter Wright

Huybrechts sealed his first Premier League success in Exeter but faces a difficult task if he is to notch another in Wright. The Belgian reached the last 16 at the UK Open where he was beaten by van Gerwen, while Wright claimed a stunning victory over Taylor before coming unstuck in the final against Huybrechts’ victor.

With both footing the league table, defeat for either could see them cut adrift from the pack, a perilous position with Judgment Night a mere three weeks away. Wright is the only man yet to win a match in the tournament but he has drawn his last three games.

Huybrechts looks to have become comfortable with the Premier League arenas, which suggests he will turn in another decent performance. Still, Wright must fancy his chances of picking up a first league win and building on what has been an impressive few weeks.

Prediction: Wright 7-4 Huybrechts

Premier League Darts: Chisnall and Anderson to clash in Exeter

Dave Chisnall will attempt to continue his impressive start to this year’s Premier League when he takes on Gary Anderson on week five of this year’s tournament at the Westpoint Arena in Exeter, on Thursday night.

In a repeat of last year’s world final, Michael van Gerwen goes up against Peter Wright, while James Wade seeks a third-straight win over Phil Taylor on television.

Raymond van Barneveld will look to strengthen his defence of his title against newcomer Kim Huybrechts in the first match of the evening.

In the night’s other battle, Adrian Lewis looks to push on from his  fiery draw with van Gerwen in Belfast, as he plays a struggling Stephen Bunting who has just one point to his name.

Dave Chisnall v Gary Anderson

Chisnall and Anderson have been given top billing for their Devon encounter, fittingly considering their strong starts to the competition.

The St Helens thrower has accumulated seven points from his first four matches – leaving him joint-top with van Gerwen – in a run that has included wins over van Barneveld and Wright. Meanwhile, Anderson is lying third in the table with six points, courtesy of three wins and one loss.

After a flaky performance in week three against van Gerwen, Anderson bounced back with a 7-4 defeat of James Wade in week four. The world champion has beaten Chisnall five out of six times, with two triumphs in the Premier League.

However, ‘Chizzy’ is producing some of the best darts of his PDC career at the moment, demonstrating a much greater proficiency on his doubles, and this progress culminated last week with his win over Kim Huybrechts where he posted an average of 107.

The Scot is based in neighbouring county Somerset and should have the home support, which could play a factor as the crowd managed to irk Chisnall during his match with van Barneveld in Bournemouth three weeks ago. But his form has been strong and if he throws well again, trying to pick a fight would be foolish.

The quick pace should suit both and this will be a high-scoring affair . In a battle between two of the league’s early form horses, a draw would come as no surprise.

Prediction: Chisnall 6-6 Anderson

James Wade v Phil Taylor 

Taylor finds himself in a rather peculiar position ahead of his match with Wade, in that he has lost to him in their last two TV meetings. A major contrast to the stranglehold the 16-time world champion has traditionally imposed in front of the television cameras – ‘The Machine’ had previously never defeated Taylor in a TV knockout match.

Anderson is the only player in PDC history to notch three consecutive wins over ‘The Power’ on TV – a currently active streak – a feat Wade can emulate by winning this match.

After an opening night defeat, Taylor has risen to fourth in the table but his failure to beat Wright last Thursday has stemmed his momentum somewhat. Wade’s first loss of the tournament came against Anderson in Belfast but he has only recorded one victory in the first four weeks.

A dogged Wade has shown himself to be tough to beat but he can be vulnerable when his opponent scores heavily. Taylor’s scoring has been mixed so far but he looked imperious in his dispatching of Lewis a few weeks ago.

Taylor still has the edge more often than not when he takes to the oche, but the gap has narrowed and he is more regularly punished now for his off-colour performances. But taking into account their past few matches – and Taylor’s superior averages – Wade will need to be somewhere near his best to prevent his nemesis taking two points.

Prediction: Taylor 7-3 Wade

Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen

Van Gerwen succumbed sole possession of top spot following his draw with Lewis in Belfast, while Wright secured a fighting point against Taylor to kick-start his campaign.

The Dutchman heads in to the contest as the heavy favourite having beaten his opponent in all eight of their televised meetings. Wright has also lost four times in a row to van Gerwen in all competition, with his last win coming at a UK Open Qualifier in February 2014.

Current form also suggests there is only one winner here with van Gerwen shooting a plethora of 105-plus averages since being dethroned as world champion in January – a period which included a run of five titles from six tournaments.

On last week’s evidence, Wright should produce a respectable performance.  He has seemingly – after much tinkering with the set-up – found a more fruitful throwing combination, which allowed him to manage a draw against Taylor –  a far-cry from some of his earlier efforts in the season.

Still, he will have to significantly up his level again to challenge the world number one, whose brutal scoring is blitzing everyone this year. When at his peak, all of his rivals have proven mere cannon-fodder.

Prediction: van Gerwen 7-3 Wright

Adrian Lewis v Stephen Bunting

Over his Premier League career, Lewis’ only consistency has been his inconsistency, and it’s a trend he is continuing so far in this year’s edition, with one win, one defeat, and two draws from four games. He has the chance to push up the table on Thursday though when he plays Stephen Bunting, who lies at the foot of the table with a solitary point.

Bunting has failed to settle in his first Premier League, suffering three straight losses and he faces being cut adrift if he doesn’t arrest the slide soon. With this plight, it could make Lewis either the best or worst opponent. The two-time world champion was brilliant in averaging 114 to beat van Barneveld in week one, but a fortnight later he could only muster 92 in a draw with Huybrechts.

Nevertheless, even the latter Lewis may still see off Bunting. Guilty of panicking in his matches, and often conceding early leads, the Liverpudlian is low on confidence and looks to have forgotten how to win. The Premier League is an unforgiving format, as the likes of Mark Webster and Wes Newton have previously found out. Unless he relaxes and stops fighting himself, the likelihood of him fighting his adversary on the oche is minute.

Lewis was much-improved in his edgy fixture with van Gerwen a week ago but spurned a 6-4 lead to only share the spoils. Bunting, meanwhile, fell behind early against van Barneveld and lagged behind throughout the match to lose 7-4.

There is always an element of doubt with the enigmatic Lewis, but this match could well be lost by the inferiority of Bunting’s arrows, as opposed to the superiority of his.

Prediction: Lewis 7-2 Bunting

Raymond van Barneveld v Kim Huybrechts 

Few lose a match when averaging 107 but Huybrechts was consigned to a third defeat in four by Chisnall last time out despite doing just that. Less convincingly, van Barneveld clung on to beat Bunting – a match where his mentality appeared the greatest burden.

Their last showings make this Benelux bout all the more intriguing. The Belgian performed to a higher standard than the Dutchman in their respective matches, but it was the Dutchman who walked off with two points while the Belgian left empty-handed.

Van Barneveld’s defence of his Premier League title has stuttered and spluttered so far but his win over Bunting has hoisted him into the mix and he will be favoured to trump Huybrechts who is winless as of yet in his debut season.

The defending champion has looked a tad vulnerable – sometimes donning spectacles, other times going without. He collapsed from 5-1 up against Wright and also missed clumps of doubles when playing Chisnall. If the Belgian can churn out a solid 100 average game he will cause problems. Of course, van Barneveld has more in the tank but hasn’t been able to sustain his hot streaks for more than a handful of legs.

Interestingly, Huybrechts has won all six of their previous encounters, however the two have never met before on TV.

Until he nails a first win, Huybrechts will be nervous and he can ill-afford another pointless evening, but he seems to have settled into the event over the past couple of weeks. Van Barneveld has done nothing to indicate he will blow his opponent away and therefore, a draw or perhaps even a Huybrechts win could be on the cards.

Prediction: van Barneveld 6-6 Huybrechts

Premier League Darts: van Gerwen’s draw with Lewis allows Chisnall to share top spot

Dave Chisnall drew level at the top of the Premier League table after Michael van Gerwen drew against Adrian Lewis at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.

Chisnall beat Kim Huybrechts 7-4 in the first match of the night to pick up a third league win and maintain his unbeaten start after the fourth week of competition.

In the last match of the evening, a determined Peter Wright kept his unbeaten record against Phil Taylor in the Premier League intact, with a draw.

Elsewhere, world champion Gary Anderson defeated James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld saw off Stephen Bunting.

Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis

A late fightback saw Michael van Gerwen nick a draw in a dramatic encounter with Adrian Lewis.

Van Gerwen accused his opponent of “slowing him down” in an interview to Sky Sports after the match, also adding that believed he was “the better player”.

Rebutting the comments made, Lewis said he can play slow and fast and that “Michael obviously doesn’t have that calibre”.

There was only one player in that game and I should have won. But to come back from 5-2 down feels great! – Michael van Gerwen

A focussed van Gerwen started strongly but a nerveless 112 checkout from Lewis prevented the Dutchman from breaking early.

After holding again, a crucial 70 saw Jackpot snare a break and he consolidated with a calm 82 finish in the sixth leg while van Gerwen lurked on double eight.

A narrowly missed bull proved academical as Lewis opened a three-leg gap but sloppy scoring helped van Gerwen recover one break and he moved to within a leg after finishing the ninth in just 10 darts.

Lewis struck back to ensure a point but proceeded to slacken off again as his clinical opponent pinched four of the last five legs – rallying from a 5-2 deficit – to salvage a draw.

Kim Huybrechts v Dave Chisnall

An exhibition of power scoring saw Dave Chisnall secure a third Premier League win in four matches with a 7-4 victory over Kim Huybrechts.

In what was a high-quality contest, the pair shared 10 180s between them – Chisnall hitting six – as both averaged in excess of 107.

After sharing the opening two legs, a 90 finish in the third gave Chisnall an early break. A 10-darter from Huybrechts halted his opponent’s run of three straight legs but two missed darts at tops in the next allowed Chisnall to restore a two-leg cushion.

The Belgian kept in contention despite missing double 12 for a nine-dart finish however Chisnall’s strength on his own throw saw him to a 6-4 advantage – guaranteeing a point – before closing out the match in the next with a 100 checkout.

Gary Anderson v James Wade

A Gary Anderson surge saw him claim six of the last seven legs against James Wade to win 7-4.

Wade started brightly, breaking throw in the opening leg and a 14-darter in the next moved him 2-0 ahead.

Five missed darts at doubles for Anderson weren’t punished as he opened his account in leg three but further spurned chances in the fourth prevented him from levelling.

A 67 checkout galvanised the Scot to break with an 11-darter in the sixth, and he moved ahead for the first time after Wade missed double 16 for a 146 finish. The Machine arrested the slide – holding throw for four-all – but the world champion broke at the next opportunity, going 6-4 up to take a point.

And after Wade failed to apply pressure on the Anderson throw, the latter sealed the win with an assured 92 checkout and an average just shy of 99.

Stephen Bunting v Raymond van Barneveld

Reigning champion Raymond van Barneveld triumphed in a tense affair with Stephen Bunting, winning 7-4 in a battle of the early strugglers.

Bunting narrowly missed double 10 for a 128 and five further wayward darts aided a spectacled van Barneveld to an early break which he confirmed by holding for 2-0.

The former Lakeside world champion wasted another six darts in the next as the Dutchman eased to a controlling 4-0 lead.

Van Barneveld continued to capitalise tame scoring from Bunting who became visibly irritated once again on the Premier League stage, but he registered his first leg in the fifth with a two-dart 78-outshot.

Bunting restored one of the breaks after van Barneveld failed on double 18 and double nine, and those misses proved the catalyst for a collapse in his scoring.

However, vital checkouts in legs 10 and 11 ensured a first win for the five-time world champion, as Bunting was condemned to a third loss in four matches.

Phil Taylor v Peter Wright

The first four legs of the match went with throw as Wright was vastly improved on his previous matches.

After Taylor missed double top for a 160 finish, Wright nailed double 16 to snatch a break. But a poor leg allowed Taylor to immediately break back.

Wright was afforded a chance after the 16-time world champion couldn’t break again, and he took his chance, hitting double 10 for four-apiece.

Taylor was almost shell-shocked when Wright came close to finishing 161 but hit double 16 with one dart in hand to hold throw. However, Wright continued to be solid and left his opponent few chances.

The Power won the 11th leg to earn a point, but a 180 in the deciding leg gave Wright the breathing room to comfortably complete a draw.

League Table

Week 4Chisnall’s win sees him move level with van Gerwen at the top of the table while Anderson’s return to winning ways leaves him just one point behind in third.

A draw for Peter Wright moved him out of the drop zone, an area occupied by Huybrechts and Bunting after they suffered further defeats.

Next week’s Premier League will be held at the Westpoint Arena in Exeter, with darts remaining in the South West for the UK Open which takes place in Minehead between March 6-8.

Premier League Darts: Roadshow heads to Belfast for Week Four

Early leader Michael van Gerwen will seek to maintain his perfect start to this year’s Premier League against Adrian Lewis at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, on the fourth night of this year’s tournament.

World champion Gary Anderson will aim bounce back to winning ways following his 7-4 defeat to van Gerwen last week, when he takes on James Wade.

Elsewhere, Peter Wright faces a tough task to secure his first win of the season in the form of a resurgent Phil Taylor. And Stephen Bunting – a 7-1 victim to Taylor in Liverpool – meets Raymond van Barneveld in a repeat of their world championship quarter-final in January.

In the other match of the evening, the unbeaten Dave Chisnall goes up against Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts.

Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis

Van Gerwen secured a third successive win of the competition against Anderson last week while Lewis managed a draw in a cagey match with Huybrechts.

The two have enjoyed some memorable battles in the past but the Dutchman has held the edge over recent times and is unbeaten in their last seven meetings on television – a run that stretches back to the 2013 Grand Slam of Darts.

Lewis fired in a near-114 average against van Barneveld in week one but has not reproduced that level since. Meanwhile, van Gerwen was imperious in his first two matches before prevailing in a more scrappy affair with Anderson.

This is sure to be a fast-paced game between two former world champions and they usually bring the best out of each other. However, judging on their league performances so far, van Gerwen’s newfound consistency should be the attribute that pulls him through.

Prediction: van Gerwen 7-4 Lewis

Gary Anderson v James Wade

Fragility on the doubles served to haunt Anderson in his loss to van Gerwen and the Scotsman will face a testing challenge to get back on track against Wade, who has claimed a win and two draws in his opening three matches.

Anderson scrambled over the line against Taylor before demolishing Wright and has been impressive during the first few weeks of his reign as world champion. Wade averaged 104 in beating Huybrechts in week two, but barely managed 90 to claim a draw against Chisnall last Thursday.

Wade reversed a 3-1 deficit when the two met in the World Grand Prix semi-finals back in October, but Anderson exacted revenge last month, with victory at the Masters. However, before that match, Wade had not lost on TV against the Scot for almost three years.

Providing Anderson can pin his doubles like he has over the past 12 months, his scoring power should be enough to grab the win. But if he is sloppy for a second week running, Wade’s vulture-like qualities will punish him.

Prediction: Anderson 7-4 Wade

Phil Taylor v Peter Wright

Following a post-Christmas lapse, Taylor has returned to form over the past few weeks – with two Premier League wins and a UK Open Qualifier title at the weekend – and he threatens to dispatch a vulnerable Wright in the final match of the night.

Paying the price for regularly fiddling with his darts, Wright has only a point to his name after three weeks and finds himself at the foot of the table. In contrast, Taylor has risen to third in the league, recovering promptly from his initial defeat to Anderson.

Wright did pinch a draw after van Barneveld spurned a 5-1 advantage in Liverpool, but a failure to chalk up more than one leg against Anderson and Chisnall suggests he is severely out of form.

The evidence points towards a drubbing, Wright will need his A game to prevent one, and will probably require Taylor to be off his.

Prediction: Taylor 7-1 Wright

Stephen Bunting v Raymond van Barneveld

These two will face off on the big stage for the first time since their memorable quarter-final at Alexandra Palace last month, where van Barneveld eked out a dramatic 5-4 win.

The five-time world champion has, however, been off-colour in the defence of his Premier League crown so far but he has the chance to record his first win of the tournament against a struggling Bunting.

Last year’s Lakeside champion has endured a difficult start to his Premier League career, with two losses and a draw so far. Both are desperate for a win here or they risk being cut adrift from the field, with the bottom two set to be relegated after week nine.

A scrappy contest is likely, a sharing of the spoils would come as no surprise here.

Prediction: van Barneveld 6-6 Bunting

Kim Huybrechts v Dave Chisnall

A draw against Lewis gave Huybrechts his first Premier League point last time out and a match with Chisnall presents him with the opportunity to capture a maiden win.

St Helens’ Chisnall has won the key moments in his matches so far, accruing five points from three games (won v Wright, won v Barneveld, drew v Wade) despite averaging below 95 in all of them – a run that has placed him at a handy second in the table.

The two’s last big meeting came in the semi-finals of the Grand Slam of Darts in November. Chisnall nicked a thrilling 16-15 win on that occasion – their only previous meeting on TV.

Huybrechts has the game to win but his opponent has developed a desirable winning habit. This should be tight, but going on their performances so far, Chisnall will edge it and continue his strong start.

Prediction: Chisnall 7-4 Huybrechts

The Odyssey Arena is hosting the Belfast leg of the Premier League for the eighth time. The venue first held the event back in 2008.