‘The Machine stung by a Snakebite’
First to enter the fray was Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright, with his trademark dance to Pitbull’s ‘Don’t Stop The Party’, getting the crowd even more pumped up for the evening’s action. This was halted by the entrance of ‘The Machine’ James Wade (a former Premier League champion), who has been in stuttering form so far this year. He produced the biggest upset of the premier league so far, defeating the odds-on favourite Michael Van Gerwan; but then he lost catastrophically to an improved Phil Taylor, last week. After some missed doubles and a breath-taking 161 checkout by Peter Wright, the game ended 7-4 in Snakebite’s favour. The world number five looked comfortable throughout, averaging over 104 and achieving a checkout success of 70 per cent—the best of the entire night. In contrast, James Wade could only average 98, and had a considerably lower checkout success of 44 per cent. The win gave Peter Wright a third successive victory, keeping him on top spot and maintaining the only 100 per cent record. James Wade now faces an uphill struggle to qualify for the top four.
KEY MOMENT: Peter Wright hits a stunning 161 checkout, ending on bullseye, giving him the momentum to go on and claim two points.
Bully Boy gets his first point as Chizzy falters
The second match of the night featured two players in contrasting form, and demonstrating different levels of confidence. The world number eight, Michael ‘Bully Boy’ Smith, has found his debut season difficult. On the back of some great performances in the World Championship in December, fans expected him to do well. However, he has started with three defeats from his first three matches. On the other hand, Dave ‘Chizzy’ Chisnall has been in magnificent form, whitewashing Robert Thornton in week one before a narrow defeat to Adrian Lewis last week, a match where both players average over 100 points. However, this contest ended in the first draw of the season after a closely fought, topsy-turvy match: 6-6. At 5-5, Smith Broke Chisnall’s throw; meaning he had the advantage of going first in the last leg, leading 6-5. Just as it appeared Bully Boy was on course for his first win of the campaign, Chizzy produced a remarkable ’11 darter’ to claim the draw. He was pleased, yet also disappointed, with the result: “At 6-5 down it’s always good to get a point…but it feels like a point lost really.” Both men have played a lot better in previous weeks, only averaging in the mid 90s, and both had an unusually poor time hitting the doubles, with an identical 43 per cent success rate. A draw seemed to be a fair reflection of the match, and gets Michael Smith off the bottom of the league, while Dave Chisnall remains mid-table.
KEY MOMENT: Dave Chisnall’s 11 darter in the final leg to guarantee himself a point.
Flying Scotsman derailed by the Power
Two of the biggest names in darts clashed for the next match. With 18 World Championships between them, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor (16) met the reigning Premier League and World Champion, Gary Anderson (2). It was Phil Taylor who took both points with a 7-4 victory. Gary Anderson missed the first week through illness and has since come back in indifferent form. He lost to Michael Van Gerwan in week two, and looked a shadow of himself in this match, only averaging 93.38. This, compared to his form at times in the World Championship, where he was averaging over 110 and hit a ‘9-darter’, shows just how badly he is playing at the moment. Take nothing away from ‘The Power’ though, another brilliant display where he averaged over 100 gave him the two points that took him into joint second. In contrast, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ remains winless and in the bottom two, although he has games in hand on those above him in the table. Both players will be concerned by only achieving a checkout success of 40 per cent, but Taylor will be grateful of the points against the reigning champion. For Anderson, he certainly isn’t out of the running to make the top four, but if he doesn’t start winning soon, the gap to those above him may become too big to close.
KEY MOMENT: 3RD LEG—Anderson ready to pounce and break, but Taylor manages to checkout 101 to hold throw.
Mighty Mike wins the jackpot, against ‘The Jackpot’
‘Jackpot’ Adrian Lewis and ‘Mighty’ Michael Van Gerwan have arguably been the two best players of the season so far. On this occasion, it was ‘Mighty Mike’ who won 7-4, averaging 106.4 (the best of the night) with a checkout success of 54 per cent. Lewis played well but ultimately fell to the world number one. This result leaves them on the same amount of points (four), and in joint second in the table. At two wins from three, both will be feeling relatively happy with their start to the campaign.
KEY MOMENT: Lewis has chance to break back at 6-4 on 164 finish, but hits wire aiming for bull, MVG then wins the match with his next dart.
Barney removes ‘The Thorn’ from his side
Raymond Van Barnevald is almost a sure bet to finish in the top four, and has done so numerous times before. The 2014 Premier League champion has been in fine form both in the World Championship, where he was a semi-finalist, and so far, this campaign, where two wins from three have put him level with Adrain Lewis, MVG and Phil Taylor. Having dominated against Peter wright in week two, he somehow lost the match. Barney dominated against Robert Thornton, too, but almost chucked it away at the end. The scoreline 7-5 in Barney’s favour hardly did justice to the match itself. Barney averaged over 102.6, whereas The Thorn could only manage 89. Although Thornton managed a 63 per cent checkout success, almost double that of RVB’s, he is still bottom of the league on leg difference. He faces an almost impossible task to make the top four. As for Barney, he is well and truly on course for the top four.
KEY MOMENT: First leg break for Barney, checkout 116 to set the tone for a dominant display.
Predictions for week 4
- Adrian Lewis 7 v 4 James Wade – Lewis to power through and get the win with relative comfort
- Gary Anderson 7 v 5 Barney – Gary to bounce back and RVB to be punished on doubles
- Michael Van Gerwan 7 v 2 Michael Smith – A humbling lesson from one Michael to another
- Phil Taylor 6 v 6 Dave Chisnall – Too close to call, if anyone, Taylor to edge it but I’ll go for the draw
- Peter Wright 7 v 2 Robert Thornton – Thornton to taste defeat again and Wright stay top of the league.