Premier League Darts- Rotterdam Week 15 Preview!

Premier League Darts
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

The Premier League enters unprecedented territory on Thursday night, as the tournament enters the Netherlands for the first time in its history. Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena hosts the final week of league action and the stakes are incredibly high.

Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor is undoubtedly the main event of the evening. Both are locked on 24 points and the winner will top the table and subsequently collect the £25,000 winner’s bonus awarded for whoever finishes first.

Elsewhere, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson clash in a repeat of last year’s World Championship final, with Lewis knowing that a point should be sufficient to secure a play-off spot, alongside Van Gerwen, Taylor and Anderson.

Peter Wright trails Lewis by the solitary point and he must defeat home-favourite Raymond van Barneveld to have any realistic chance of qualifying for the O2 Arena. Elsewhere,  James Wade and Robert Thornton will also do battle on Dutch soil.

 Robert Thornton v James Wade

James Wade’s hopes of reaching the top four were ended last week, where he suffered a crushing 7-1 defeat against Peter Wright. Wade’s doubling, which is notoriously the strongest element of his game, let him down badly. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that ‘The Machine’ has acquitted himself extremely well in this year’s event.

Robert Thornton is certain to finish the league-phase in eighth position. Since averaging over 105 in thrashing Peter Wright 7-2, Thornton has suffered four straight losses, against Raymond van Barneveld, Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson respectively. Furthermore, ‘The Thorn’ has accumulated just five legs from his last three matches.

Although there is not a great deal at stake for either player, I expect this to be a high-quality contest. Both players are tenacious and proud competitors and they’ll want to exit this competition on a high. However, Thornton is simply not performing  well enough at present, and Wade’s consistency could wear down the Scot.

Prediction: Thornton 4-7 Wade

Peter Wright v Raymond van Barneveld

The equation for Peter Wright is relatively simple. Beat Raymond van Barneveld, and then hope that Gary Anderson defeats Adrian Lewis. Van Barneveld, who has made the play-offs in eight of the last ten years, will not be present at the O2 Arena next week, although he’ll be desperate to secure victory on home soil.

Barney has performed well in this year’s competition with little reward. He has a tournament average of over 98 and he has recorded ton-plus averages on six separate occasions. However, six of his nine defeats have been by virtue of 7-5 scorelines, which has ultimately proven expensive.

Nevertheless, Van Barneveld is returning to the scene of his first ever ranking victory, where he won the 1984 Rotterdam Open, at the age of 17. Raymond will have a multitude of his friends and family in attendance so he’ll be highly motivated to sign off the season with a star-studded display.

Wright may relish being the spoiler, which makes this contest extremely tough to call. Snakebite has performed superbly in recent weeks, claiming five points from his last six available, against Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and James Wade respectively.

Since returning to his old darting set-up he’s looked far more assured, but Van Barneveld is also throwing well. In his previous two outings, RvB has averaged 99.57 and 100.78. If he produces a similar performance in Rotterdam, he’ll be tough to beat.  I think home-advantage could prove critical in this one. Will Barney stop Wright’s party?

Prediction: Wright 5-7 Van Barneveld

Adrian Lewis v Gary Anderson

Adrian Lewis could have secured his top-four spot before taking to the oche on Thursday, if Raymond van Barneveld beats Wright. This would change the dynamics of the contest considerably, because when relaxed, Lewis is arguably one of the most dangerous players on the planet.

It’s been a mixed campaign for Lewis. He hasn’t produced an array of star-studded performances, but he’s been very professional and efficient. For example, in both of his games against James Wade, Lewis trailed 5-4, only to win the final three legs and claim two victories, and four points in the process.

Anderson was excellent against Robert Thornton last week and is now certain to finish the league phase in 3rd position. Incidentally, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ finished 3rd twelve months ago, before going on to clinch the title with victories over Dave Chisnall and Michael van Gerwen.

Although Anderson cannot improve on his position of 3rd, he’ll still be keen to enter the O2 off the back of a victory; momentum is crucial in sport, and Darts is no different. Gary will face either Van Gerwen or Taylor in the semi-finals, so subconsciously his focus may be on next week’s curtain-raiser.

Lewis and Anderson always produce fireworks when they clash. They’re two of the most prodigious talents in the game and I expect this to be a topsy-turvy thriller. However, there is significantly more at stake for Lewis, and Jackpot is renowned for producing top performances when he most needs them.

Prediction: Lewis 6-6 Anderson

Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor

When the fixtures for weeks 10-15 were announced, Phil Taylor must have taken a huge groan when he saw he would be facing Michael van Gerwen on Dutch soil. Van Gerwen leads Taylor on legs difference in the table, so ‘The Power’ must beat ‘The Green Machine’ to secure top spot in the Premier League for the first time since 2012.

Van Gerwen was in electric form last week, thrashing his compatriot Raymond van Barneveld 7-2. Barney averaged over 100 too, but MvG was magnificent; wiring D12 for a nine-darter, before taking out finishes of 122 and 167 in the culminating legs.

However, Taylor kept the pressure up on the world number one after defeating Adrian Lewis by the very same scoreline. Lewis was below-par, but Taylor was merciless, averaging 104 en route to victory.

Although it’s fair to say that the table never lies, Michael van Gerwen has been the best player in this year’s competition- by some considerable margin. That is reflected in his tournament average of 107.42, which is an astonishing achievement over 15 weeks of competition.

Taylor’s tournament average of 101.26 is also very impressive, but the biggest factor behind Phil’s resurgence is his improved doubling. Taylor’s scoring has never really dwindled, but over the past two years he was displaying real vulnerability on the D16 and D8 segments; an issue he has now rectified.

Van Gerwen thrives on adrenaline and playing in front of 10,000 partisan Dutch fans should certainly provide the fuel for an explosive performance from Michael. However, I believe the first six legs could be all-important. If MvG claims an early lead, he could run away with it. If not, Taylor has a very strong chance of upsetting the apple-cart!

Prediction: Taylor 4-7 Van Gerwen

Betway Premier League
Night 15 – May 12
Rotterdam Ahoy

Robert Thornton v James Wade
Peter Wright v Raymond van Barneveld
Adrian Lewis v Gary Anderson
Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen
Best of 12 legs

League Table

After Night 14 P W D L +/- LWAT Pts
Michael van Gerwen 15 10 4 1 +40 36 24
Phil Taylor 15 11 2 2 +37 34 24
Gary Anderson 15 8 4 3 +16 30 20
Adrian Lewis 15 8 1 6 +5 30 17
Peter Wright 15 6 4 5 0 26 16
James Wade 15 6 2 7 -11 25 14
Raymond van Barneveld 15 5 1 9 -8 24 11
Robert Thornton 15 2 2 11 -39 10 6
Dave Chisnall (E) 9 1 1 7 -14 17 3
Michael Smith (E) 9 1 1 7 -26 15 3

 

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