PDC Premier League – Week One Preview
Thursday sees the start of the 2016 PDC Premier League from the First Direct Arena in Leeds. It promises to be the most competitive Premier League since the event started and there are enticing matches every week.
In an earlier blog I added my handy fixture guide which shows each players week by week schedule along with highlighting their recent winning/losing record against each opponent. I’ve updated the guide since the Masters last weekend, here is the current version.
I’ve previewed each of the five opening night matches, giving my verdicts too, the games are listed in the order they are scheduled to be played. I hope you find them useful!
Peter Wright vs Michael Smith
- Wright is beginning his 3rd Premier League campaign having made his debut 2 years ago on the back of reaching the World Championship Final. He has only won 3 of his last 19 Premier League matches, after finishing 5th in 2014 he was 9th after Week 9 last year and was subsequently eliminated.
- Smith is making his Premier League debut having broken into the Top 8 in the World for the first time during 2015.
- Wright has averaged over 100 in each of his last 4 TV matches, having also averaged over 100 in 8 of his last 11 TV matches.
- Michael Smith has averaged under 98 in 8 of his last 10 TV matches.
Head to Head
Wright leads their head to head meetings by 7 wins to 3 and has won 6 of the last 7 times they have played. They have faced each other 4 times on TV with Wright winning 3 of those games.
Wright had a Premier League season to forget in 2015 having being eliminated after 9 weeks with just 1 win to his name, that should be well behind him now though as he enjoyed some good runs in TV tournaments during 2015 and in the majority of his defeats in the TV tournaments his performance when losing was still of a high standard.
Smith is making his first ever Premier League appearance so it will be interesting to see how he settles, he is no stranger to playing on the TV stage but he has still only ever made one TV semi-final. He has the game to not look out of place in the Premier League but will have to get points on the board in the early matches to avoid pressure building.
I think Wright will just have enough to get over the line in this match winning 7-5. Wright has been hitting a good number of 180s recently and over 3.5 180s in the match for him looks a fair bet.
Michael van Gerwen vs James Wade
- Michael van Gerwen has topped the league in each of the 3 seasons he has competed in the tournament. Last year on the opening night he averaged over 107 in beating Kim Huybrechts and in 2014 he averaged over 109 in defeating Phil Taylor 7-0.
- James Wade is a former Premier League champion and reached the final on two other occasions, the last time he reached the final was in 2010. He finished 7th in the league last year and was without a win in his last 8 matches.
- MVG has averaged over 105 across his last 22 matches in the Premier League (include play-off matches).
- Wade has averaged under 96 in 4 of his last 6 matches in the Premier League.
Head to Head
MVG has a 17-11 head to head win record against Wade but more tellingly he has won 14 of their last 16 meetings. Wade ended a run of 9 straight defeats with a deciding leg win in the Perth Masters last August. In the Premier League they have met 4 times with van Gerwen claiming 3 wins to the 1 of Wade including 7-0 in their last PL match last April, when MVG averaged over 116.
World Number One Michael van Gerwen started his 2016 season by winning the Masters last weekend showing some very impressive form along the way, although he was fortunate that Phil Taylor missed a number of doubles to beat him in the semi-finals. He is still very much the man to beat in the Premier League.
James Wade had a run to the semi-finals at the Masters but he didn’t really play well and struggled to match Chisnall in their semi-final encounter. Wade did have wins over van Gerwen, Wright and Taylor in TV matches during 2015 but they all came before September, he exited his last 2 TV tournaments too easily for a player of his ability.
Michael van Gerwen has started this year looking eager to prove the point that he is the best player in the World despite not having won the World Championships, he will be motivated to start the Premier League in impressive fashion and I am expecting him to do so. I’m predicting a 7-3 or 7-4 win for MVG.
Phil Taylor vs Raymond van Barneveld
- Taylor topped the league table every year from 2005 to 2012. Since then he hasn’t finished in the top 2 and last year his 5th place finish meant he missed out on the play-offs for the first time.
- Barney won 6 of his last 8 Premier League matches last season to make the play-offs. Only van Gerwen and van Barneveld have made the play-offs in each of the last 3 years.
- Despite his failure to qualify for the play-offs last year Taylor averaged over 100 in 12 of his 16 league matches and averaged over 104 in 7 of them.
- van Barneveld has averaged under 98 in 10 of his last 13 matches on the TV stage.
Head to Head
Taylor leads their head to head record convincingly with 53 wins to the 15 wins of van Barneveld. It is more prudent to break their meetings down to more recent times though, during the 2015 season van Barneveld won 3 of their 5 matches played. RVB won both of their matches in the 2015 Premier League. Barney managed to beat Taylor in last year’s Premier League despite Taylor averaging over 115. Taylor did win the last time they played, that was a 16-12 win at the Grand Slam last November.
Phil Taylor might have lost in the semi-finals at the Masters last weekend but there were positives for him over the tournament, he averaged over 102 in all 3 of the matches he played. He came through a tight, high quality match against Wright and missed 7 darts at a double to defeat van Gerwen in their semi-final, hitting crucial doubles is not coming as easy for Taylor these days and this was another example.
Raymond van Barneveld had an excellent run to the semi-finals at the World Championships, no doubting he played some very good darts on that run but he did ride his luck also. The 2016 season hasn’t started very well for him, having exited two Euro Tour events at the qualifying stage and he produced a below par performance in his match against Smith at the Masters last weekend.
There is always plenty of pride at stake when these two giants of the game square up on the big stage and this should make for an intriguing match. Taylor hasn’t beaten Barney in their last 5 Premier League meetings but I think he will end that run here. I think Taylor to win with Barney winning 4 legs or more looks a good value bet.
Gary Anderson vs Adrian Lewis
- Anderson is a two time winner of the Premier League (2011 and 2015); he won both of those having finished in 3rd place during the league stage of the tournament. In fact in his 5 appearance in the tournament he has finished 3rd three times and has twice finished at the bottom of the table.
- Lewis hasn’t finished above 6th place in the league since 2011 and has only twice qualified for the play-offs.
- Anderson produced his best ever Premier League match average of 108.98 in one of his wins over Lewis during last year’s tournament.
- During his last 15 Premier League matches Lewis has only had 5 match averages above 98.
Head to Head
Anderson leads their head to head record 22-17 and has won 14 out of their last 18 meetings (including each of the last 3). They met most recently in the final of the World Championships last month when Anderson retained his World title. In their two Premier League matches last season it was Anderson who came out on top both times winning 7-3 and 7-1.
Gary Anderson is the reigning Premier League Champion having defeated van Gerwen in the final last May, having successfully defended his World title recently he will be aiming to do the same in the Premier League. He looked a bit rusty in the Masters last weekend by losing in the Last 16 to van der Voort, but he should be more focussed and prepared for this match.
The overall record of Adrian Lewis in the Premier League isn’t what it should be for a player of his calibre. This isn’t to say he hasn’t put in some excellent performances in some matches but the consistency hasn’t been there. Last year he averaged 113.8 on the opening night against van Barneveld but then he failed to win his next 7 games.
Both of these players made an early exit at the recent Masters, it has to be said their opponents did play well but Anderson and Lewis were below the levels they showed at the World Championships. I’m tipping Anderson to win this match 7-5 and think that Anderson to win with Lewis winning at least 4 legs is a value bet.
Robert Thornton vs Dave Chisnall
- Thornton is competing in the Premier League for the 3rd time having featured in 2013 and 2014. He finished 5th in 2013 just 2 points behind 4th place but in 2014 he finished 8th winning just 2 of his 16 matches.
- Chisnall is also in his 3rd Premier League campaign, on his debut in 2014 he finished 7th, but last year he finished in 2nd place just a point behind van Gerwen who was 1st.
- Thornton has lost each of his last 4 matches on TV and has failed to average over 94 in his last 7 TV matches.
- Chisnall averaged over 104 in 6 of his Premier League matches last year including a high average of 114.71 in a 7-1 win over James Wade.
Head to Head
Thornton and Chisnall met only last weekend at the Masters when Thornton led 8-0 only to lose the match 10-9. Overall Chisnall leads their head to head record 11-10. They have played twice in the Premier League; both winning 1 match each during the 2014 campaign, both games went the full 12 legs.
Having let an 8-0 lead slip against Chisnall last weekend it will be interesting to see if Thornton has any reaction from that. He didn’t finish 2015 in the best of form so a win would have been more than welcomed but to lose in the manner he did means this will be a big test of character to try and put the disappointment behind him.
Chisnall went on to reach the final last weekend at the Masters so enters the Premier League in much better spirit than he would have done if he hadn’t made that memorable comeback. Chisnall had an excellent Premier League season last year finishing in second place and as a result I think he will feel very comfortable and confident in the tournament again this year.
I’m expecting Thornton to show some fight and determination to put his defeat to Chisnall last weekend behind him, but also feel that Chisnall will also play a lot better than he did in that same match. Chisnall is the favourite with the bookies and I can’t disagree. I think Chisnall will get off to a winning start to this year’s Premier League.