PDC Premier League – Finals Night Preview

After 15 weeks of league matches we have now reached the finals night of the 2016 Betway Premier League. Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis all currently ranked in the top four in the PDC rankings will do battle to see who will be crowned the 2016 Premier League champion.

I will start my preview with some stats for the four players on their performances in the 2016 Premier League.

Firstly here are the stats from matches between all four players in this year’s league.

Top 4 vs Top 4 Stats

Here’s a breakdown of their match averages over the 16 matches played.

2016 League Averages for Final 4

The scoring stats

2016 Premier League Scoring Stats

A look at the 10 highest checkouts between the four players in this year’s Premier League.

2016 PL High Checkouts

The next chart shows the amount of darts each player has won in 12 darts or less and also 15 darts or less – MVG’s makes impressive reading that’s for sure!

2016 PL Legs won in 12 and 15 Darts

Now onto my match previews for the semi-finals.

Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis

2016 League Performance

  • van Gerwen finished at the top of the league for the 4th successive year meaning he has done so in every year that he has participated in the Premier League. He only lost one match in the entire league phase, that defeat came against Wade in week one. The fact 11 of his 16 match averages were above 105 shows the standard he produced this year.
  • Lewis confirmed his place in the play-offs on the final night of the league phase; he needed just 2 legs against Anderson but ended up winning the match 7-2. Overall Lewis lost 6 matches in the league and 5 of those were against players who finished in the top 4. Lewis is competing in the play-offs for only the 3rd time from 9 participations in the league, on all 3 occasions he finished 4th in the table.

Premier League Play-off Record

  • van Gerwen has won all 3 of his semi-final matches in the play-offs having defeated Wade, Anderson and van Barneveld in those matches. He has only gone on to win the title on 1 occasion though, having lost in the final in each of the last 2 years.
  • Having now finished 4th in all 3 times he has qualified for the play-offs, this will be the 3rd time Lewis has faced the number 1 seed on finals night. He has won one and lost one of his two appearances in the semi-finals, having lost 11-1 to Taylor in 2008 and then gained his revenge by beating Taylor 8-3 in 2011. When he reached the final in 2011 he lost 10-4 to Gary Anderson.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 27-12, they have also drawn twice)

Michael van Gerwen has a healthy win record against Lewis over their previous meetings and has won 6 of their last 7 encounters; this includes 2 wins in this season’s Premier League (MVG won 7-4 and 7-5). The last time Lewis defeated van Gerwen in a televised knockout match was back in November 2013 in the Last 16 at the Grand Slam.

Verdict

It is no surprise to see van Gerwen as a big favourite to win this match, his performances week in week out in the league have been significantly higher than what Lewis has been producing. There is no doubt Lewis has the ability to beat anyone but I haven’t seen enough signs that he is in the type of form where he will oust van Gerwen here. MVG did lose to Wade in the semi-finals of the European Darts Matchplay last weekend which will give Lewis some extra hope but I think if Lewis does raise his game then van Gerwen will step it up to another level.

My selected bet on this match is van Gerwen to win whilst hitting the most 180’s and highest checkout (7/4 Skybet).

 

Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson

2016 League Performance

  • Taylor finished 2nd in the league which is actually his highest league position since he last won the league in 2012. Last year he missed out on the play-offs for the first time ever. This year he was in with a chance of finishing at the top of the table but lost 2 of his last 3 matches having lost only 1 in the previous 13 league matches. 2 of his 3 league defeats came against players who finished outside the top 4 (van Barneveld and Wright).
  • Anderson finished in 3rd place in the league table; his only defeats came against players who finished in the top 4. He only managed 2 wins from his final 8 league fixtures. Anderson has now made the play-offs 4 times since he first participated in the Premier League in 2011.

Premier League Play-off Record

  • Taylor has competed on the finals night in 10 of the previous 11 editions of the Premier League and has won 7 of his 10 semi-final appearances, going on to win 6 times in the final. Taylor has won the Premier League only 2 times in the last 7 years after having won it during each of the first 4 years it was held.
  • Anderson has won the Premier League twice (2011 and 2015) both times he won the tournament after finishing in 3rd place – the same position he finished in this year. His sole defeat at the semi-final stage came in 2014 when he lost 8-7 to van Gerwen.

Head to Head (Taylor leads 35-13, they have also drawn twice)

Taylor has won 7 of their last 9 meetings (including two wins during the league phase of this year’s Premier League). Anderson has had some success against Taylor in high profile matches such as the 2015 World Championship final, he also won their last TV knockout match which was at the 2015 Players Championship finals (6-5 in the first round).

Verdict

Taylor starts as the favourite in this match and defeated Anderson both times they met during the league phase, Anderson only averaged around 93 in both of those matches though, and I wouldn’t expect him to turn up and perform like that on finals night. Despite losing 2 of his final 3 matches Taylor had an excellent league campaign most notable was his improved success on his finishing, no player had a better success rate when having the first dart at a double.

I think this is a very tricky game to predict as I could really see it going either way. I would see Anderson as more value from a betting point of view but it’s not a game I can call with any real confidence.

So who will win the title?

I predicted van Gerwen before the tournament and it is still hard to back against him going on to win the tournament. As he showed at the weekend when losing to Wade at the European Darts Matchplay he is beatable and he has of course been beaten in the final of the Premier League in each of the last two years. All four semi-finalists have won multiple TV tournaments and know how to get the job done but it can’t really be argued that van Gerwen’s best is currently superior to that of the other three players and I think he will be the man lifting the trophy on Thursday evening.

 

I hope we have a great finals night and that you have enjoyed my previews throughout the Premier League season.

 

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