OPINION – Players complaining about PDC’s rules on the Premier League should look at the bigger picture

By Alex Moss
31 MARCH 2017 • 1:47PM

The race for the play-offs in this year’s Betway Premier League is shaping up to be the closest in a number of years, and that was clear to see from some of the players in Cardiff last night.

Ahead of last night’s action at the Motorpoint Arena, the evening’s schedule was cut from five matches to four, as Kim Huybrechts withdrew from his fixture with Peter Wright due to family reasons.

With Huybrechts set to be eliminated, along with Jelle Klaasen, from the tournament following last night’s fixtures, Wright was awarded a 7-0 win, in accordance with the PDC’s rules.

It is a rule which certainly irked with a few of the players who did play last night. Could the PDC have waited a few weeks and got Huybrechts to come back to fulfill his final fixture?

That appears to be what those players may have wanted to happen, but, in truth, this is a situation which has never arisen before. A player, who can no longer avoid elimination, withdrawing from the one fixture he had left to play.

Another option would have been for all of the results involving Huybrechts in the tournament to be expunged from the record books. Another suggestion on social media was for Wright to play a challenge match against a player not in the competition and the result to go towards his record instead.

Wright was a big favourite to beat Huybrechts in their scheduled match at Cardiff last night and many would have expected him to pick up two points if the fixture was played.

What the players seem to be annoyed about was the ruling which gave Wright a 7-0 win in the fixture. Given that there has only been half a dozen or so whitewashes in the history of the Premier League, it would have been a big ask for Wright to replicate that one-sided scoreline if the match was played.

The plus seven legs difference Wright accrued from this outcome could be a deciding factor come the end of the season, as places in the play-offs could come down to legs difference.

But has Wright really been given a big advantage? We now enter the second league phase of the Premier League next week and each player still has seven fixtures and 14 points to play for.

The four players who end up finishing in the top four will have all deserved to be there. The Premier League is the longest tournament on the calendar, played over 15 weeks before the finals night at The O2, so players complaining about the PDC’s ruling yesterday should look at the bigger picture.

If the shoe was on the other foot, and one of the players who complained had been awarded the 7-0 win, would they have had the same reaction last night? It is very doubtful.

Premier League fixtures for the rest of the 2017 season are released

By Alex Moss
31 MARCH 2017 • 12:43PM

The fixtures for the remaining six league nights of this year’s Betway Premier League have been confirmed this afternoon.

Following the elimination of Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts last night, the remaining eight players now set their sights on winning play-off spots.

Next week at the 3Arena in Dublin will see James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld compete twice, as they face each other after earlier taking on Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor respectively.

The other two fixtures in Dublin will see Dave Chisnall face Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis meet Gary Anderson, the latter in a quick repeat of last night’s clash in Cardiff.

Week 11 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool will see UK Open champion Wright face off against the world’s top two ranked players, van Gerwen and Anderson.

The other fixtures on the night will see Anderson meet Chisnall, Lewis play van Barneveld and Taylor and Wade face off.

Week 12 at The SSE Arena in Belfast sees Chisnall and Taylor clash as they double up, with the former earlier taking on Lewis and the 16-time world champion meeting Anderson.

Wright will take on Wade, while the Dutch duo of van Gerwen and van Barneveld will meet in the other Belfast clash, with the reigning Premier League champion aiming to avenge his defeat in Manchester earlier this month.

The return to Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on April 27 sees van Gerwen and Lewis compete twice on the night, facing each other in the final game after earlier taking on Wade and Chisnall respectively.

Taylor takes on Wright and Anderson goes up against van Barneveld in the night’s other two games.

The final two league nights will each feature four games as the tournament returns to The Sheffield Arena and The GE Oil & Gas Arena in Aberdeen.

The visit to Sheffield includes the meeting between rivals van Gerwen and Taylor, as well as clashes between Wright and Lewis, van Barneveld and Chisnall and Wade and Anderson.

The final league night in Aberdeen features the rematch of the recent PDC World Championship final between van Gerwen and Anderson, while Wright faces van Barneveld, Taylor and Lewis clash and Chisnall plays Wade.

Following the final league night in Aberdeen, the top four players in the league table will qualify to compete in the play-offs at The O2 in London on May 18.

Betway Premier League
Night Ten – Thursday April 6
3Arena, Dublin
James Wade v Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor
Dave Chisnall v Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis v Gary Anderson
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Tickets: 0818 719 3000 (Ire) or 0844 8472 455 (UK) or via Ticketmaster

Night 11 – Thursday April 13
Echo Arena, Liverpool
Gary Anderson v Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor v James Wade
Peter Wright v Gary Anderson
Tickets: 0844 8000 400 or via http://www.echoarena.co.uk

Night 12 – Thursday April 20
The SSE Arena, Belfast
Dave Chisnall v Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Peter Wright v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Dave Chisnall v Phil Taylor
Tickets: 028 9073 9074 or 0844 277 4455 or via http://www.ssearenabelfast.com

Night 13 – Thursday April 27
Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
James Wade v Adrian Lewis
Dave Chisnall v Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor v Peter Wright
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
Tickets: 0844 338 8000 or via http://www.theticketfactory.com

Night 14 – Thursday May 4
The Sheffield Arena
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v Dave Chisnall
James Wade v Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
Tickets: 0114 256 5656 or via http://www.sheffieldarena.co.uk

Night 15 – Thursday May 11
GE Oil & Gas Arena, Aberdeen
Dave Chisnall v James Wade
Phil Taylor v Adrian Lewis
Peter Wright v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
Tickets: Sold Out

Play-Offs – Thursday May 18
The O2, London
Semi-Finals
Final
Tickets: 0844 856 0202 or via http://www.axs.com

Raymond van Barneveld aiming for fourth win in a row in the Premier League tonight

By Alex Moss
30 MARCH 2017 • 2:47PM

Raymond van Barneveld is targeting a fourth win in a row when he faces James Wade in the Betway Premier League tonight.

The 2014 Premier League champion has climbed up into third place after recording wins over Jelle Klaasen, Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen in the last three weeks.

And the Dutchman can give his play-off bid a further boost with a victory over Wade at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff this evening.

“It’s really competitive and it’s great that I’ve beaten the number two and the number one in the world in the last two weeks,” said van Barneveld.

“My form is there and the last two weeks have been great, but now I have to focus on James.”

Tonight’s Premier League fixtures have been reduced from five to four, as Peter Wright has been awarded a 7-0 win in his scheduled game against Kim Huybrechts, after the Belgian withdrew from the match due to family reasons.

The revised order of play for tonight’s Betway Premier League will now be as follows:

Betway Premier League
Week Nine – Thursday March 30
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Phil Taylor v Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
(all matches are the best of 12 legs)

Michael van Gerwen aiming to bounce back to winning ways in the Premier League tonight

By Alex Moss
30 MARCH 2017 • 1:34PM

Michael van Gerwen is hoping he can get back to winning ways in the Betway Premier League in Cardiff tonight.

The reigning Premier League champion saw his unbeaten record this season ended by Raymond van Barneveld in Manchester last week.

Van Gerwen takes on Dave Chisnall at the Motorpoint Arena this evening and will need a victory to return to the top of the table.

“It was disappointing to lose to Raymond but that game’s gone now and I have to prepare myself properly for this week,” said the world number one.

“It’s close between everyone (in the table) so you can’t afford any more mistakes.

“Dave’s a brilliant player and he’s one of the biggest scorers in the game, so I know I’ve got to be on form.”

Van Gerwen dropped to second place in the table this morning after it was announced Peter Wright had been awarded a 7-0 win in his scheduled game tonight against Kim Huybrechts, after the Belgian withdrew from the match due to family reasons.

The revised order of play for tonight’s Betway Premier League will now be as follows:

Betway Premier League
Week Nine – Thursday March 30
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Phil Taylor v Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
(all matches are the best of 12 legs)

Kim Huybrechts pulls out of Premier League in Cardiff tonight due to family reasons

By Alex Moss
30 MARCH 2017 • 10:52AM

Kim Huybrechts has withdrawn from tonight’s Betway Premier League fixture in Cardiff due to family reasons.

The Belgian was scheduled to play his final game of the season before elimination against Peter Wright at the Motorpoint Arena this evening.

Huybrechts has informed the PDC that he is unable to travel to the UK, in order to remain with his terminally ill mother in Belgium during her final hours.

As the withdrawal comes in week nine, and with Huybrechts already eliminated from the Premier League as of next week, under the tournament rules the game will not be played.

Wright will now be awarded a 7-0 win and will not compete in Cardiff tonight.

“We all send our best wishes to Kim and his family during what is a particularly difficult period,” said PDC chief executive Matt Porter.

“This was not the way that Kim wanted his Betway Premier League season to end, but the needs of his family are foremost at this time.”

The revised order of play for tonight’s Betway Premier League will now be as follows:

Betway Premier League
Week Nine – Thursday March 30
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Phil Taylor v Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
(all matches are the best of 12 legs)

Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson both feeling confident ahead of Premier League tussle in Cardiff

By Alex Moss
29 MARCH 2017 • 10:25PM

Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson will both be aiming to steal a march on each other when they do battle in the Betway Premier League tomorrow evening.

The duo have met in two previous PDC World Championship finals at Alexandra Palace, but their next meeting, at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, will have Premier League points on the line this time round.

Both players are locked together on nine points after eight games each, with Anderson just ahead of his rival in the table by virtue of a superior legs difference.

Lewis is looking to extend his three-game winning streak in the competition when he takes on the world number two tomorrow night.

“It’s not going too bad, points-wise,” said Lewis. “I know I’m coming into form and I’m practising hard.

“I just go up there and try my best, and at the moment the results are coming even if I’m not at my best.

“I’ve had three wins on the trot and I want to keep that going now.”

DARTS
Gary Anderson can boost his Betway Premier League play-off hopes with a victory over Adrian Lewis in Cardiff tomorrow night CREDIT: LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

Lewis prevailed 7-5 when the two met in the 2011 PDC World Championship final, while Anderson reversed the scoreline in his favour in the second world final decider between the pair in 2015, and the Scot is predicting another entertaining contest in Cardiff.

“The games usually get built up but Adrian’s back playing how we know he can,” said Anderson.

“He’s a good friend of mine and he has me in stitches all the time, laughing about things, but we’ll go up there and the best man will win on the night.

“I’ve had lots of draws and games I could have won. I’m trying to get more time on the practice board and I’m going to put the work in.”

Betway Premier League
Week Nine – Thursday March 30
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Peter Wright v Kim Huybrechts
Phil Taylor v Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
(all matches are the best of 12 legs)

Phil Taylor not putting any pressure on himself ahead of clash with Jelle Klaasen in the Premier League

By Alex Moss
29 MARCH 2017 • 9:16PM

Phil Taylor says the pressure will be off both him and Jelle Klaasen when the two face off in the Betway Premier League tomorrow night.

Klaasen, along with Kim Huybrechts, can no longer avoid being eliminated from the tournament heading into ‘Judgement Night’ at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff tomorrow.

Both Klaasen and Huybrechts will exit the Premier League after tomorrow night’s fixtures, leaving the eight remaining players to battle it out for the top four and places in the end of season play-offs.

“Jelle will be dangerous because he’ll want to finish on a high and there’s no pressure on him – but it’s the same feeling for me too,” said the 16-time world champion Taylor, who plans to retire from competitive darts at the end of this season.

“I’m enjoying it now and I’m not going to put myself under pressure. I’ve had 30 years of being under pressure week-in and week-out, and I’ve earned the right to enjoy myself a bit, but I’m going to keep pushing to get into the top four.”

Taylor joined Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis on nine points in the table after defeating then table-topper Peter Wright 7-5 in Manchester last week.

Klaasen’s 7-5 defeat to Lewis last week means he can no longer catch Dave Chisnall who, in eighth place and on six points, is three points clear of both the Dutchman and Huybrechts heading into tomorrow’s action.

Huybrechts takes on Wright in Cardiff tomorrow night, with the Belgian bidding to claim his first victory of the campaign, which would ensure he does not take the unwanted record as the first player to register no wins in a Premier League season.

Betway Premier League
Week Nine – Thursday March 30
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Peter Wright v Kim Huybrechts
Phil Taylor v Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
(all matches are the best of 12 legs)