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.

Love The Darts Dozen – Jelle Klaasen drops to the bottom after the German Darts Championship

By Christopher Kempf
31 MARCH 2017 • 1:12PM

The Love The Darts Dozen estimates and compares the length of the average leg over players’ last 180 stage legs.

Michael van Gerwen’s inconsistency in Hildesheim results in a large decline in scoring form (9.55 darts to a finish from 9.36 last week).

A breakthrough victory for Raymond van Barneveld against van Gerwen was accompanied by superior setup play.

Alan Norris can’t keep pace with his 2016 German Darts Championship form, dropping to 3.08 darts at double per leg won.

Jelle Klaasen falls to last place in the LTD12 for the first time, owing to shaky victories in Germany and Premier League relegation.

LTD12 (after German Darts Championship)
1. Michael van Gerwen 15.454 (0.204)
2. Raymond van Barneveld 16.697 (0.130)
3. Phil Taylor 17.116 (0.094)
4. Daryl Gurney 17.128 (n/c)
5. Mensur Suljovic 17.571 (0.269)
6. Benito van de Pas 17.650 (0.207)
7. Simon Whitlock 18.074 (0.070)
8. Alan Norris 18.094 (0.157)
9. Steve Beaton 18.216 (n/c)
10. Mervyn King 18.409 (0.319)
11. Joe Cullen 18.467 (0.261)
12. Jelle Klaasen 18.715 (0.354)

Raymond van Barneveld makes it four wins in a row as Premier League visits Cardiff

By Alex Moss
31 MARCH 2017 • 10:28AM

Raymond van Barneveld chalked up his fourth consecutive win in the Betway Premier League as he swept past James Wade 7-2 in Cardiff last night, where Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor also picked up victories.

Van Barneveld, the 2014 Premier League champion, has climbed into the top four with his recent run of form, beating the world’s top two players van Gerwen and Anderson, and he continued that with a ruthless display against Wade.

The Dutchman limited Wade to just one dart at a double as he won the opening five legs without reply, before the 2009 Premier League champion finished 36 and 70 to take two of the next three.

However, van Barneveld, who had claimed his sixth leg with an excellent 12-darter, took the ninth on double seven to secure another two points in his bid to secure a spot in the play-offs.

“That’s four wins on the trot so I’m very happy,” said van Barneveld. “It’s so tight in the league table so I had to focus and you have to play well against everyone.

“James didn’t play as well as he could and I was surprised at that but I’m happy with the win.”

DARTS
Michael van Gerwen climbed back to the top of the Betway Premier League table last night CREDIT: LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

Reigning Premier League champion van Gerwen moved back to the top of the table with an impressive 7-1 win over Dave Chisnall, averaging 104.25 and hitting 50 per cent of his darts at a double.

The world number one had lost his first game of the season last week against van Barneveld, but returned to winning ways as he defied five 180s from Chisnall with a dominant display.

“I had to play well tonight and I’m happy that I did,” said van Gerwen. “The pressure was on me because I want to be back on top of the table where I belong and where I’ve worked hard for.

“When you lose a game, like last week, you’re upset but tonight I enjoyed it again. I’m a happy man and I’m already looking forward to next week.”

DARTS
Gary Anderson boosted his hopes of qualifying for the play-offs with a 7-3 victory over Adrian Lewis CREDIT: LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

Two-time Premier League winner Anderson fired in finishes of 143 and 170 in a superb 7-3 win over Adrian Lewis, averaging 107 as he came from 2-1 down to clinch his third win in four games.

“I didn’t think the performance was as good as the average, but I’ll take it!” said Anderson. “There was some good scores and some bad scores – the 170 felt like it came from nowhere and I took out the 143 too.

“We all want to get into the play-offs. When the tournament starts you don’t want to be in the bottom two, and once you get past tonight it’s a fight for the top four and everyone’s trying for it.”

DARTS
Phil Taylor battled back from 4-1 down to beat Jelle Klaasen 7-5 in Cardiff CREDIT: LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

Six-time Premier League champion Taylor also had to come from behind before he saw off Jelle Klaasen 7-5 in a deciding leg.

Klaasen – who had been eliminated before his ninth league match – raced into an early 4-1 lead, before Taylor, aided by an 11-darter, turned the match around to claim his second win on the spin.

“It’s another two points for me and they could all prove crucial at the end of the season,” said Taylor. “It could prove the difference for getting into the play-offs – if I’d lost I think I’d have struggled to qualify.

“I think Jelle’s injury affected him, at the beginning he was fairing well but during the game he was struggling and he wasn’t the same player. Fair play to him, it must be very frustrating but he’s battled on.”

DARTS
Peter Wright addresses the Cardiff crowd last night CREDIT: LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

The night had seen just eight players in action, with Kim Huybrechts – who had already been eliminated – absent to remain in Belgium with his terminally ill mother, meaning that Peter Wright was awarded a 7-0 victory in his intended opponent’s absence.

“All our thoughts are with Kim and his family,” said Wright, who made an appearance on stage in front of the sell-out Cardiff crowd before the event and signed autographs for the fans.

“You have a fantastic crowd in Cardiff, the atmosphere is amazing and I’m gutted that I’m not playing. I was looking forward to trying to win tonight but unfortunately I’ve got to get back on the practice board.”

The Premier League continues with the visit to Dublin’s 3Arena next Thursday, as the second phase of the season begins with five games.

Betway Premier League
Night Nine – Thursday March 30
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Phil Taylor 7-5 Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson 7-3 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 7-2 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 7-1 Dave Chisnall
NB: Peter Wright awarded 7-0 win following Kim Huybrechts’ withdrawal.

League Table

As of March 30 2017 P W D L +/- LWAT Pts
Michael van Gerwen 9 6 2 1 +19 21 14
Peter Wright 9 6 1 2 +16 16 13
Raymond van Barneveld 9 5 2 2 +8 18 12
Gary Anderson 9 4 3 2 +10 12 11
Phil Taylor 9 4 3 2 +5 20 11
Adrian Lewis 9 4 1 4 0 18 9
James Wade 9 3 2 4 -3 16 8
Dave Chisnall 9 3 0 6 -16 12 6
Jelle Klaasen (E) 9 1 1 7 -16 15 3
Kim Huybrechts (E) 9 0 3 6 -23 11 3

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)

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)