Who will be crowned 2017 PL champion?
The 2017 betway Premier League play-offs are finally upon us, after 15 gruelling and entertaining weeks of top quality darting action!
Just four men remain – Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson (in table order) – and between them have 10 titles in this competition, with just Snakebite hunting for his first.
Defending champion MVG and fellow two-time PL winner The Flying Scotsman take to the oche first in a colossal opening clash. While, in-form play-offs debutant Wright and retiring six-time victor The Power will face off in the other semi-final.
No player has beaten the other twice this Premier League season, which makes the occasion all the more intriguing, as they all aim to claim the prestigious trophy and £250k prize.
Note that the semis are now first to 10 legs, and the final is first to 11.
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
Anderson will have been left kicking himself after letting Taylor finish above him in the table, as he now faces Anderson in the semis instead. Though, at least he has the chance to knock the reigning champion out early.
This is the second week in succession the duo go head-to-head in the PL, as Mighty Mike won 7-4 last time out in Aberdeen. Both averaged over 100, and fans at the O2 will be hoping for a similar quality match-up by both this Thursday.
In 11 Premier League meetings, MvG is 6-3 up (with two draws), but they drew earlier this season. Scotsman Anderson won their most crucial duel of them all 11-7 in the 2015 final to claim his second title, though lost the only time they faced off in the semis (in 2014, 8-7).
Van Gerwen has the outstanding record of now having topped the league in all five seasons he’s played in, and has reached the final every year too – meaning the Dutchman’s never lost a semi-final!
Anderson, meanwhile, may not have been in as consistent form this campaign, finishing fourth, but did manage the second-highest overall average – with 102.16 – behind only Mighty Mike.
Whatever the outcome, expect there to be only a couple legs in it, as well as 180s galore!
Peter Wright v Phil Taylor
This duo are not as rapid throwers as Van Gerwen or Anderson, but can still produce a match of similar quality.
Wright has finally made it to the play-offs at the fourth time of asking, while Taylor will be aiming to reach the final for an incredible ninth time in 13 years.
The Power may have a superior 20-9 career record over Snakebite, but the Scot has lost only one of their seven Premier League meetings – with three wins and as many draws. Taylor’s only PL victory against Wright came earlier this season (7-5), but he then lost to him 7-3 in Week 13.
With the all-time great retiring at the start of 2018, this duo’s career peaks are at completely opposite ends. Snakebite finally won his first Major (the UK Open) this year, and looks as though he’ll claim many more, while The Power’s only singles TV title since 2014 was the Champions League of Darts – which is not classified as a Major – last September.
You’d have to say that Wright, therefore, has the edge in this semi-final, as his odds with bookmakers also suggest.
But you just never know with Taylor, who’ll be determined to claim one last notable trophy before he hangs up his arrows. He is, after all, the only one of this year’s semi-finalists to have beaten Van Gerwen in the league this season – the other was Raymond van Barneveld.
Van Gerwen: “It’s time for business now. I feel good and I know I’m playing well – I had a good game when I had to play well last against Gary and I have to do the same tomorrow night.
“They know what they have to do to beat me if they want to win the tournament, but I need to make sure I hold them off by playing some good darts and putting them under pressure.
“It’s four good players and you can’t let them have a sniff of the trophy, because if you give them a finger they will take your hand. I want to win the trophy again and it would be really special if I can.”
Anderson: “It would be nice to win it again and if I play well I’ve got a good chance.
“You’ve got to beat everyone that’s in front of you and whoever turns up on the night is going to walk away with the trophy.
“It’s always going to be hard anyway but it’s going to be interesting because it’s Phil’s last, it’s Peter’s first time here and both me and Michael have won it twice, so it’s all to play for.”
Wright: “I’ve been close to the Play-offs before but I’ve made it this time, and I want to go and win the Premier League now. I’ve seen these great guys win it in recent years and I want to be one of those great guys too.
“To be in the top four alongside Phil, Michael and Gary is immense and I’m really happy with how the season has gone.
“I’m still learning and there are times this year that I’ve changed things to improve too. I’ve learned a lot over the years and I know how to beat people now, especially Michael because he’s the man we all want to beat.
“You have to believe in your own ability and that what you do on the practice board you can do on the stage against him and anyone else in the world.”
Taylor: “Getting into the top four has been the aim all year so I’m delighted to have got through and I’d love to go on and win this now, but there’s no pressure on me.
“Peter’s been in brilliant form all year so I know what to expect, but this is his first time in the semi-finals so I don’t know how he’s feeling.
“I’ve approached the whole season in the same way and I’ll go up there to enjoy myself. It would be fantastic if I could win this title again, the perfect way to finish in the Premier League.”
4/7 Michael van Gerwen
9/2 Peter Wright
5/1 Gary Anderson
11/1 Phil Taylor
Semi-final match odds
1/3 Michael van Gerwen v 9/4 Gary Anderson
8/15 Peter Wright v 6/4 Phil Taylor
Odds correct at time of writing and courtesy of www.betway.com. Subject to fluctuation.
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