As we look ahead to Finals Night at the O2 Arena, we reflect on the top five moments from a fascinating 2018 Premier League season.
This year’s event marked the biggest shake-up since the tournament’s inception, with only Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Raymond van Barneveld returning from the 2017 line-up. However, it hasn’t disappointed!
1. Ando v MVG’s Night Three Thriller
Michael van Gerwen just missed out on nine-dart finish in Newcastle, only for Gary Anderson to step up with 170 checkout!
Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson contested the match of the Premier League season so far in week three, with ‘Mighty Mike’ running out a 7-3 winner in a classic Newcastle showdown.
Van Gerwen averaged 110.62 and landed seven maximums to prevail, as ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was beaten despite averaging 110.79, crashing in four maximums and posting two 177’s.
However, the highlight of the contest came in leg five. MVG fired in seven perfect darts before just falling short in his nine-dart attempt and Anderson responded by hammering in a sublime 170 kill.
2. Barney’s Rotterdam Return…..
Raymond van Barneveld received an incredible reception from the Rotterdam faithful after his victory over Van Gerwen
Rotterdam were treated to a double-dose of Premier League action this year and Raymond van Barneveld was certainly the star of the show.
The five-time world champion received an astonishing reception from the sea-of-orange at the Ahoy, as they roared him on to victory against Simon Whitlock during the first night on home soil.
However, the main event saw Van Barneveld take on Van Gerwen in an intriguing Dutch Derby the following night.
MVG was the overwhelming favourite but Barney rolled back the years to stun the world No 1, in a moment RVB described as one of the best of his illustrious career.
3. Fresh Faces Rising To The Challenge
Rob Cross admitted he was struggling early on in the Premier League season but recovered impressively to seal a top-four spot
This year’s Premier League line-up saw the introduction of four debutants, in the tournament’s biggest shake-up since its inception in 2005.
Only four of last year’s field returned to the fold in 2018 but the newcomers have largely performed well. World champion Rob Cross secured himself a top-four spot, with Daryl Gurney narrowly missing the cut.
Mensur Suljovic and Gerwyn Price were eliminated on Judgement Night but Suljovic could consider himself very unfortunate, having boasted the second highest tournament average at the halfway point.
Michael Smith also returned to the Premier League with a bang, finishing second this term having suffered elimination in 2016, and it’s refreshing to see new faces emerging to challenge the established elite.
4. Gurney’s Belfast Homecoming…..
Daryl Gurney was met by a sensational atmosphere ahead of his match against Rob Cross in Belfast
Daryl Gurney acquitted himself superbly in his debut Premier League campaign, but the highlight of his season was undoubtedly his Belfast homecoming.
‘Super-Chin’ faced world champion Rob Cross on home soil, with the threat of elimination still looming over him. However, the World Grand Prix champion rose to the challenge superbly.
The 33-year-old received a hero’s welcome from the capacity crowd as ‘Sweet Caroline’ bellowed around the SSE Arena, but his performance was just as memorable.
Despite trailing 4-2, Gurney produced a magnificent barrage of scoring; firing in nine maximums as he won five of the remaining six legs to pull off a famous win and send the Belfast crowd bonkers!
5. Six of the Best for MVG
Michael van Gerwen averaged 111.57 in his 7-2 victory over Rob Cross to take the top spot in the Premier League table
Michael van Gerwen secured top spot in the Premier League table for the sixth consecutive season after another impressive campaign.
MVG suffered defeat to Peter Wright on night two, before enjoying a magnificent eight-game winning run to storm clear at the summit.
‘The Green Machine’ lost three of his remaining six league matches but still finished three points ahead of his closest challenger Michael Smith.
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