This year’s Premier League was touted as being potentially the most unpredictable since the tournament’s inception, and with just three points separating the top nine in the table, that prediction could not have been more accurate.
Debutants Jonny Clayton and Dimitri Van den Bergh are setting the Premier League pace following the opening five nights, with last year’s finalist Nathan Aspinall and five-time winner Michael van Gerwen making up the current top four.
The bottom two in the table will be eliminated on Judgement Night on April 22, but ahead of the next phase of fixtures, Colin Lloyd and Laura Turner discussed the major talking points from the opening five nights, before offering their verdict on what is to come…
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‘The standard is outrageous’
I know these guys all play on the Pro Tour and it’s all behind closed doors and it’s quiet, but these majors – I just wonder if someone like Michael van Gerwen – he really does feed off the crowd – whether that does have an impact?
It’s an adrenaline rush that you just cannot buy when you have got 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 people in the crowd screaming, but overall the standard has been outstanding.
Jonny Clayton has hit a 105 twice already in this tournament. Nathan [Aspinall] has had a 105, Dimitri a 103, Jose with his 108 against Jonny Clayton and he lost that 7-3.
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The standard is outrageous, but I think everyone has the confidence that they can beat everyone, and they’re going into these matches thinking: ‘If I play my best I can beat you’.
Whereas before when you were going into games against someone like Michael or Phil Taylor when he was playing, you thought it, but whether you believed it, that’s a different matter!
Where Michael’s consistency has just dropped off slightly, it feels like a much more level playing field, and everyone else is bringing up their game because they are all confident about beating each other.
Duzza in the darting doldrums
He hasn’t broken a 90 [average] in his first five matches here. He knows that doesn’t cut it, but that doesn’t make him a bad player overnight. He’s a three-time world champion.
I don’t know whether he needs to chat with someone, or have someone look at him. Something is not firing. It’s just not happening for him at the moment and I think he’s feeling the pressure of it.
It’s a big year ahead of him. He’s defending some money off his ranking, and it’s a very lonely darting place when you’re live on TV and you’re battling these things. You know something is not quite right, but you’re having to go live on TV and find it.
You could see Glen – he wasn’t hiding his emotions – you could see the disappointment in him. Glen being the way he is doesn’t want people feeling sorry for him. He said he’ll keep battling, he’ll keep fighting and hopefully there will be some light at the end of the tunnel for him.
The Ferret is flying
It is disappointing that we don’t have Gerwyn Price, because pitching those two up against each other, that would be another explosive match.
Jonny is just taking every opportunity that is put in front of him. He is just magnificent to watch at the moment and when you consider that he’s still working as well – that could be to his advantage, to an extent.
He is playing a sport that he loves, he is thriving within it, but he’s still working. Could he be better if he didn’t work? Who knows? The formula is working at the moment, so I wouldn’t touch it!
He has just been an absolute dream. Considering it’s a debut for him as well, this last 12 months has been the rise and rise of Jonny Clayton.
Darts is one of those sports where it is relatively ageless. It’s such a mental sport – your mind needs to be in the right place and sometimes that just happens with age, confidence and maturity. Perhaps that is what’s happened for Jonny – everything has just fallen into place.
Consistency key for MVG
He is a little bit hit and miss at the moment. It’s nice to see that he is sticking with a set of darts though. He hasn’t gone back to his old darts – the championship-winning darts that propelled him right up there from 2012.
Michael is a grafter. He never drops his head and he never ever says anything negative about himself, and when you have that positivity within you and you’re verbalising it, you start believing it.
He’s only had one defeat, but there are then inconsistencies. One minute you think to yourself: ‘That’s sublime, that’s unbelievable’. All of a sudden, he will kick off the next leg 60, 85, 58 and you think to yourself: ‘Where has that come from?’
Premier League Darts: Night 6 fixtures
If he had fired in a 12-darter, you think he is going to reel off what we call the purple patch. He will go something like 12, 13, 14, 11. They are the things that really hurt your opponent especially in a short format, but he doesn’t seem to be doing that at the minute.
There’s nothing better as a player than going up on that stage and performing well. That’s the one thing that keeps driving Michael on, because he knows he is a lot more consistent than he has been.
He seems to be working extremely hard to get back that consistency and get that drive to get back up to be world No 1 and to become world champion again.
Who will bow out on Judgement Night?
Lloyd: “I think Glen Durrant is going to go. He has been a worthy champion of the Premier League and all credit to him for going up there and battling, knowing full well he isn’t playing very well, but unfortunately I think we are going to lose Glen at this first phase.
“I am going to say the man who is ninth at the moment – Jose De Sousa. The only thing that could make me change my mind on that is on the very first night back he is playing James Wade – I feel he needs to win that game. If James wins that game, I think that could be curtains for Jose.
Turner: “I totally agree with regards to Glen. It’s been difficult to watch. We all know Glen is a phenomenal player, he just isn’t finding it at the moment and I just can’t see a way back for him unfortunately.
“I think that opening game [on Night 6] is massive, because for me it’s probably between De Sousa and Wade. I’d probably edge towards Wade. I think De Sousa is playing that bit better.
“If he can just sort out that tail-end of his game. It is well-documented he goes for the wrong finishes. He seems to be on auto-pilot when he is switching, but I think potentially Durrant and Wade, or perhaps De Sousa if the opening match goes Wade’s way.”
Don’t miss an arrow thrown with Sky Sports as Premier League Darts resumes on Monday, April 19 at 7pm on Sky Sports Action – and stick with us for build-up this for updates, interviews and reaction from start of this year’s competition
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