Rotterdam provided a fitting final flourish for the 15-week round-robin section of the 2016 PDC Premier League Darts, so now we’re down to the final four who will battle it out on Thursday at London’s O2. The difference this time, is that they are without doubt the best four players on the planet, and how often does that happen in sport? Especially in a game where anyone can beat anyone on any given day. It’s also rare these days to see two Englishmen in the semis, but patriotism aside, this has the makings of the greatest Premier League play-offs we’ve ever seen. Here’s the Roobla run-down on the quartet.
Michael van Gerwen
World sport’s – nevermind darts’ – perpetual form horse looks bang on the money once again going into finals night, having consigned Phil Taylor to second place in the final league standings, with a 164 checkout and a 12-darter in the final leg to boot. But after such a breathless night, and a highly-emotional one at that, how much will the homecoming in Rotterdam have taken out of him? This is not to be negative, but that is one thing the others must try to exploit – as wonderful a player as he is, he can sometimes strive that little too hard in the pursuit of darting perfection.
It’s difficult to determine which of the semi-finalists will want to land the title the most, but with ‘Jackpot’ being the only one of the four never to have done so, you could argue a strong case for the 31-year-old Stokie. No one can take away those back-to-back world titles, but for someone of his prodigious talent, the CV does look a little thin on the ground. He’ll certainly need to recapture the magic of 2011 and 2012 to overpower MVG in the first game of the night, but to come through a do-or-die final league match, against Gary Anderson no less, showed bottle of the highest order.
Prediction: Out in semis
When he’s not busy chopping and changing his weapons of choice, he’s normally found these days indulging in his favourite pastime, namely proving the doubters wrong. Apart from lifting the title that he last won back in 2012, Phil Taylor needs no more motivation than that, but just in case he does, you can bet your bottom dollar that he’ll be smarting from that 7-5 defeat to Mighty Mike. It looked for a while that ‘The Power’ would be topping the table going into the play-offs, so here’s the perfect opportunity to right that wrong.
If the Rolls-Royce version turns up, then Gary Anderson could well retain the title; if not, he could easily go missing in the semis. It’s clear to see at times why there are some folk out there who believe that, on his day, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ is the best in the business, but after a slow start to this year’s Premier League campaign, plus that shock early exit in the UK Open, he is far from unbeatable at times. His opponent in the second semi-final is Phil Taylor, a player he knows how to beat better than most, but in some kind of strange way he could be the least fancied of the four come Thursday.
Prediction: Out in semis