Seventeen weeks, 73 games and 462 180s later, it all comes down to this – the playoffs of the PDCs Premier League.
Can anyone stop the hot favourite reigning World Champion Michael van Gerwen or is there one final Premier League fairytale for Phil Taylor in what is largely thought to be his swansong in this event. Peter Wright and Gary Anderson will have something to say about that that’s for sure…
Michael van Gerwen
The Dutchman’s Premier League campaign had been flawless until loss to Raymond van Barneveld in Manchester finally ended his 44 match unbeaten streak in televised matches back in March. He has averaged over 100 in all of his encounters so far and has defeated Anderson in their most recent match-up in Aberdeen. His head to head record against the Flying Scotsman will also give him encouragement, with five victories (including in the World Final in January), one draw (on the opening night of Premier League action) and one loss.
The 28 year-old will be looking to become the first player to win back to back Premier League titles since Phil Taylor in 2007 &’08. He will perhaps be relieved to not face Peter Snakebite Wright in the semis however, with the Scotsman having thrashed him 6-0 in the European Darts Gran Prix Final a fortnight ago.
Premier League record this year: 1st – Won 10, drawn 4, lost 2
Tournament Average: 104.83
Checkout Percentage: 41.13%
Crowd favourite Peter Wright is the form man in the sport at the moment with no less than seven titles to his name in 2017. After scooping three UK Open Qualifier titles he then won the big one at Butlins Minehead. With the German Open and German Darts Championship titles also added to the collection, his crowning moment came at the European Gran Prix earlier this month when he dismantled a certain Michael van Gerwen 6-0 in the Final. Perhaps surprisingly this is the further Wright has progressed in the Premier League in his career.
Lining up against Phil Taylor, it was honours even for the pairing during the Premier League campaign with them sharing the spoils. There has only been one other meeting between them this year which Taylor triumphed in in the last eight of The Masters in January.
Premier League record this year: 2nd – Won 10, drawn 3, lost 3
Tournament Average: 99.36
Checkout Percentage: 38.89%
The two-time World Champion is gunning for a third Premier League title having qualified for the Playoffs finishing in the final qualifying berth. The Flying Scotsman has two Pro Tour titles to his name this year and has the final of a further three, the highlight being The Masters back in January.
The 46 year-old runs into a old foe in the form of van Gerwen, a man he has duelled with back to their BDO days when the Dutchman was just 16. Anderson has only prevailed once in their last nine matches, managing a loss and a draw in their Premier League clashes this time round.
Premier League record this year: 4th, Won 7, Drawn 4, Lost 5
Tournament Average: 102, 39
Checkout Percentage: 39.91%
What to say about the sixteen-time World Champion who is winding down his career in 2017. He is the only player to have played in all 12 Premier League competitions and is of course the most successful participant having won six of those. Over 200 matches later, Taylor will surpass £1m in prize money earned from this tournament alone regardless of the result come Thursday evening.
The 56 year-old has been true to his word in only playing televised competitions he has been invited to or qualified through his ranking. His semi-final at the Masters in January and his Premier League form are the only indicators to go on, with no floor tournaments to his name in 2017. Taking on Peter Wright, the pair shared the plaudits in the League campaign with Wright triumphing in their most recent encounter. Taylor did however win his last two matches so will be full of confidence heading into what could be his Premier League swansong.
Premier League record this year: 3rd , Won 8, Drawn 3, Lost 5
Tournament Average: 98.21
Checkout Percentage: 40.17%
It is worth mentioning that the prize fund for the 2017 tournament is at its highest in its history, with £250k going to the winner. Runners-up will take solace from a £120k cheque, while semi-finalists be rewarded £80k. In 2005, Phil Taylor picked up £50k for winning the inaugural Premier League title.
The Premier League Playoffs will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3 in Rileys Sports Bars