Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson shared the spoils on a thrilling opening night of the 2017 Premier League, as Raymond van Barneveld produced an incredible comeback to stun Adrian Lewis. Elsewhere, Phil Taylor, Peter Wright and James Wade also tasted victory at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on Thursday night.
Van Gerwen and Anderson were forced to settle for a point in the match of the night in the North East. MvG led for the majority of the contest, but Anderson launched a valiant fightback to claim a point with a 103.19 average, as the Dutchman dropped points on the opening night for the second straight year, despite averaging an ominous 107.94.
‘Mighty Mike’ made a blistering start to the contest, following up a brilliant 177 set up shot with an 84 kill on the bullseye for a 12-dart break. He then extended his advantage moments later with his first maximum and a 13-darter culminating on D7, before Anderson completed a fine 78 finish to open his account.
Van Gerwen continued his blistering start with a magnificent 11-darter, but Anderson reduced the arrears to the solitary leg by pinning tops for a 13-darter. The Dutch ace was unperturbed however, and regained his two-leg lead with a crucial 15-dart hold.
However, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was growing in confidence and registered another 13-dart hold to close to within a leg of MvG, before restoring parity at four apiece after converting a majestic 130 outshot (T2o, T20, D5) for a 12-darter.
‘The Green Machine’ was stunned and Anderson pinned D2 for his third consecutive leg to lead for the first time. Despite this, the world champion stopped the rot on D16 to level up proceedings after Anderson missed the bull for a 121 checkout.
The Scot produced his worst scoring leg of the contest as Van Gerwen threatened to break, but Anderson guaranteed himself a point with a nerveless 114 checkout on tops. However, the world number one extended his incredible unbeaten streak to 33 matches with a clinical 68 finish for a 14-darter, to mark the first draw of this year’s tournament.
Raymond van Barneveld produced a brilliant comeback from 4-1 down to edge out Adrian Lewis in an absorbing battle. The five-time world champion endured a nightmare on the doubles in the opening stages, missing his first ten darts at double. Nevertheless, he won six of the final seven legs to prevail with a 99.33 average and four maximums.
Lewis started sluggishly in the scoring department, but capitalised on a multitude of missed doubles from Van Barneveld to establish a 4-1 cushion. ‘Jackpot’ then failed to take out 60 for a 5-1 advantage, and Barney followed up his second maximum with a quality 65 checkout via D4 to stay in contention.
The pair missed further doubles in the seventh leg as RvB hit tops to reduce the deficit, before the legendary Dutchman levelled up proceedings with a classy 81 finish to complete a 12-dart break. The Stoke star was shell-shocked and Van Barneveld recorded a 13-darter to clinch his fourth leg in a row to secure the lead for the first time.
Lewis responded strongly, registering his second maximum and firing in a 14-darter to stop the rot, before hitting another maximum to leave 61 after just 12 darts and heap the pressure on Van Barneveld’s throw.
However, the five-time world champion produced a nerveless 84 finish culminating on D11 to snatch at least a share of the spoils, before a dramatic final leg ensued. Barney wired the bullseye for an incredible 170 match-winning salvo, but he returned to sink D8 and complete the comeback after Lewis had spurned three darts to salvage a point.
Phil Taylor kicked off his bid for a seventh Premier League crown with a convincing 7-3 triumph against his Target stablemate Dave Chisnall in Newcastle. ‘Chizzy’ fired in five maximums but his performance was plagued with inconsistency, as Taylor upped the ante in the latter stages of the contest to begin his campaign in style.
The 16-time world champion established a 2-0 lead despite averaging just 86, but Chisnall opened his account after following his second maximum with a 66 finish for an 11-darter. Taylor then reeled off back-to-back legs to ease into a 4-1 advantage, before the contest suddenly exploded into life.
Chisnall conjured up a spectacular 160 finish out of nowhere to hold for the first time, but Taylor produced a quality 121 on the bull for an impressive riposte. The St Helen’s star converted a stunning 134 kill on D7 to keep his hopes alive, but Taylor dispatched a 118 outshot to secure a point and record the fourth successive ton-plus finish.
Chisnall appeared poised to prolong the contest, but Taylor fired in his first maximum at an opportune moment to pressure the world number seven. ‘Chizzy’ spurned one dart at tops for a 74 checkout and Taylor completed the win in clinical fashion, pegging the same target to complete a 75 finish and round-off a proficient display of finishing.
James Wade enjoyed a winning start to his Premier League campaign with a hard-fought victory over the returning Kim Huybrechts. The Belgian averaged 100.62 compared to Wade’s 96.07, but Huybrechts trailed from the very first leg and was unable to overturn the deficit.
Wade led 2-0 and 3-1, before Huybrechts recorded successive 15-darters to restore parity at three apiece. However, ‘The Hurricane’ then missed two darts to secure the lead for the first time and the left-hander ruthlessly punished this error, landing a nerveless 96 kill on D9 to regain the lead.
Huybrechts fired in a stunning 134 checkout (T17, T17, D16) as he attempted to fightback and although he forced a fourteenth and final leg, it was to no avail. In typical Wade fashion, ‘The Machine’ produced the goods when it mattered most; sealing his triumph with a majestic 11-dart finish.
Peter Wright brought down the curtain on the opening night with a battling victory over Jelle Klaasen. ‘The Cobra’ was making his first Premier League appearance since 2007 but squandered a multitude of opportunities at double, as Wright averaged 93.93 and landed three maximums to begin his campaign with an important victory.
The opening two legs went with throw, before Wright produced a brilliant 120 finish to hold after Klaasen had spurned two break opportunities. The former Lakeside world champion responded strongly however; levelling with a 76 finish for a 14-darter, before securing the first break of throw with a pivotal 68 checkout.
Nevertheless, the Dutchman missed key chances to win a third straight leg and Wright capitalised to secure an instant break back. The next two legs both went with throw, before Klaasen was again punished for profligacy on the doubles as the Scot sank D10 with his last dart in hand to lead 5-4.
The world number three guaranteed himself a point by pegging D8, again with his last dart; before a dramatic eleventh leg ensued. ‘Snakebite’ left 91 after just 9 darts but squandered four match darts. Yet Klaasen couldn’t take advantage; missing two darts to keep his hopes alive as Wright eventually found D2 to prevail in scrappy circumstances.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Betway Premier League
Night One – Thursday February 2
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Kim Huybrechts 5-7 James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor 7-3 Dave Chisnall
Gary Anderson 6-6 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 7-4 Jelle Klaasen