James Wade produced a typically clinical display to inflict Michael van Gerwen’s first Premier League defeat of the season on Night Four in Exeter, although ‘The Machine’ labelled it as his worst performance of the campaign thus far.
Wade had claimed one win, one draw and suffered one defeat prior to his clash against ‘Mighty Mike’, while the Dutchman was bidding to win his opening four Premier League games for the first time in his career.
Nevertheless, MvG was punished for a profligate display against the nine-time major winner, who ran out an emphatic 7-3 winner at the Westpoint Arena. In his post-match interview, Wade insisted that Van Gerwen isn’t as dominant as Phil Taylor, before warning that players fold too frequently against him.
“I think, performance-wise, it was my worst performance of the season but I took my chances and hit a few more doubles than Michael,” said Wade. “He didn’t play his game there and gifted me some opportunities. I didn’t play as well as I wanted to and that frustrates me, but I’ll move on and enjoy things.
“I feel a lot of players fold against Michael when they really shouldn’t. He’s the best player in the world at the moment, thankfully he’s not as dominant as Phil, but if all the other boys keep rolling over he will be.”
Van Gerwen controlled the early part of the contest, but was punished for spurning a number of opportunities to break throw. He missed five darts for a 3-1 lead, before wasting a further three darts at double in leg six.
Wade took full advantage; reeling off five consecutive legs from 3-2 down and taking out a sublime 121 finish on the bull in the penultimate leg to prevail with a 95.65 average and a 47% checkout success rate.
However, as @ochepedia pointed out on social media, it was statistically Van Gerwen’s worst Premier League performance since March 2015 and one of his worst ever displays in the competition, as he averaged a miserly 87 in the last five legs of the contest.
MvG has recorded his lowest Premier League average since 19 March 2015, and his sixth-lowest PL average out of 112 matches.— Christopher Kempf (@ochepedia) February 28, 2019
Elsewhere in Exeter, Michael Smith moved off the bottom at the expense of Raymond van Barneveld, as ‘Bully Boy’ recorded a 7-4 win over the five-time world champion. Barney led 3-1, but Smith overcame his injury woes by winning six of the last seven legs to prevail with a 98.79 average and 70% on the doubles.
Mensur Suljovic also recorded his first win of the season against world number three Peter Wright. ‘Snakebite’ drew first blood before Suljovic raced into a commanding 6-1 lead and although the Scot fired back with legs of 14, 11 and 14 darts, ‘The Gentle’ held his nerve to secure his sixth win over Wright in their last seven meetings.
Rob Cross is up to third in the table after cruising past an out-of-sorts Daryl Gurney. ‘Super Chin’ was bidding to claim his third straight league win but only narrowly avoided the indignity of a whitewash, as ‘Voltage’ prevailed 7-1 with an impressive 102.16 average.
Meanwhile, in the evening’s curtain-raiser, Luke Humphries and Gerwyn Price played out a thrilling draw, as Price continued his unbeaten start to the season and came agonisingly close to registering the first perfect leg in the Premier League for almost two years.
‘The Iceman’ wired double 12 for a nine-darter in leg six, but Humphries averaged 101.30 and converted finishes of 85, 81, 96 and 161 to move 6-5 clear, before missing double 14 for a 148 finish in the decider. However, Price held his nerve to defy the boo boys and convert a 76 kill on tops to claim a share of the spoils.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC