By Paul Durrant
The 2nd session of the P.L. concluded last week, (Judgement Night) where both Rob Cross and Glen Durrant were eliminated, leaving 8 players to resume the competition on May 5th – 7th and May 24th – 27th. The top 4 compete on the 28th.
My final 4 are Dimitri van den Bergh, Jose de Sousa, James Wade and MvG. lf l had to replace 1 it would be MvG for Aspinall. Overall winner? MvG if he finds his game, otherwise Dimitri, a great player and a breath of fresh air.
Night 6 – HIGHLIGHTS
Rob Cross 5 – Gary Anderson 7, Jose de Sousa 7 – James Wade 5, Jonny Clayton 3 – Dimitri van den Bergh 7, Glen Durrant 3 – Michael van Gerwen 7, Nathan Aspinall 7 – Peter Wright 3.
Cross posted a decent 100.54 ave. in Block 2’s opener to Anderson’s 94.82, but the Scot was clinical in finishing. Cross is gradually reclaiming the form which made him World Champ, but qualification in this competition will be beyond him. Too many missed opportunities ie his magnificent 174 set up shot in the 12th leg, missing the double and a valuable point.
Wade’s 104.01 ave. proved insufficient to overcome the popular de Sousa, 101.94, the Portugal man enjoying a 78% finishing record (7 from 9 darts). Outs of 110, 52, 60, 85 (on the bull) 69 and 81, were just too much for Wade, de Sousa recording 5×180.
A fast and furious Clayton / van den Bergh head-to-head, concluded with both averaging 102+, sharing 10×180, but the latter claiming both points. A 5th leg 11 darter, to include a 168 set up for a D4 finish, from Dimitri, was followed by a 121 out from the opposition, repeated in the very next leg by Dimitri in 12. A further 3 figure out in 12 gave the Belgian a 3-5 advantage, adding two more on D18 and D16 for a 3-7 result.
The 4th match, by today’s standards was dire. Durrant suffered his 6th consecutive loss, to an uninspired MvG, winning comfortably with a lowly 87.63 ave. lt wasn’t the MvG we recognise, probably due to the struggling Durrant, but a further 15 points on his average will be necessary to progress to the K.O. stage.
Wright won the opening 2 legs, breaking the Asp’s throw in the 1st, disappointingly adding just one more in the remaining 8. The Asp was in fine form, yet again exceeding a 105 ave. adding 4×180, to Wright’s 1. Sporting purple hair with matching shirt, Wright wired the bull for a 170 in the 5th adding a 120 out for his 3rd and only leg.
Van den Bergh, Aspinall and MvG sit all square on 8 points at the summit with identical, wins / losses / legs.
Night 7 – HIGHLIGHTS
Durrant 4 – de Sousa 7, Cross 4 – van den Bergh 7, Aspinall 6 – Clayton 6, Wright 4 – Wade 7, MvG 6 – Anderson 6.
De Sousa needed 5 legs to get his arrows flying in his match with Durrant, who led 3-2 at the time. A 61 out in the 6th and an 11 darter in the 7th, to include 2×180, reversed the trend. Two more maxis’ came his way, before the tie was concluded with a further 11 dart leg. Durrant did find a little form with 2×180 and a 105 and 87 outs.
Cross suffered his 4th defeat in 5, this time to Dimitri recording 5×180, a pair of tasty set ups of 165 and 174, plus a 124 finish in the 7th leg. A match ave. of 101.17 just eclipsed the 99.95 of Cross also managing 5×180. Dimitri’s victory elevating him to top spot a point clear of the field.
The Aspinall / Clayton encounter illustrated how dangerous these 2 relative newcomers are. Each enjoying 3 breaks of throw. The 5th leg went to Clayton with a 12 on a bull 121 out, adding the 7th and 8th using 13 apiece. A 12-dart 10th leg from the Asp included a 124 out. Clayton, always chasing legs, found D16 in the final leg to earn a point and a superior match ave. of 99.5.
Wade quickly opened a 2-leg advantage over Snakebite, the 1st a cheeky 100 out, hitting a S20 and then 2 double tops. Outrageous! Wright countered in the 3rd on 76, Wade restoring his advantage on 93 for 1-3. Wright won the 7th to take the lead for the 1st time on D16, which was to be his last. Wade reeling off the next 4 and match, with 13, 15, 13, 14 dart legs and a 105.76 ave.
Not the anticipated fireworks in the MvG / Anderson tousle, both averaging high 90’s however. 4 shared maximums plus a 177 from the Dutchman. One point apiece, a fair reflection of the game which only included 3 combination outs, the highest 78 by Anderson.
Night 8 – HIGHLIGHTS
Cross 5 – Aspinall 7, Anderson 5 – v.d. Bergh 7, MvG 7 – de Sousa 4, Wade 7 – Clayton 2, Wright 7 – Durrant 1.
Although taking the 1st leg in 13 darts, Cross was never in this tie, despite 2×14 dart legs in the 10th and 11th legs. The Asp knocking in a 14 in the 4th and a 146 out in the 5th. An 11, including 2×180 in the 8th sealed the outcome.
Van den Bergh raced to a 4-1 lead over Anderson, his 5th leg a blistering 10 darter, wiring D18, for a 9. The Scot reeled off 14 and 12 dart legs for 5 all, Dimitri however taking the remaining 2 for victory. Each scored 4×180.
Any doubts of MvG’s form were unfounded as he took apart de Sousa, despite sharing 14×180. MvG started with a 12, finishing on bull, 25, bull, his next 5 winning legs in 15, 12, 15, 11, 15 darts. A rare sight in the 7th leg, both players scoring 2×180, MvG winning in 11, de Sousa leaving 45 points after 9. MvG ave. 104.72 despite taking 21 darts for his 7 legs.
Wade overcame Clayton in similar fashion with a 105.29 ave. Clayton 103.23. Wade’s best legs in 11, 15, 14, 15, and 12 unusually missing 13 closing darts, reducing his match average. Just the 1 three figure out a 101 from Wade.
Wright imposed a straight 8th defeat for a sombre Durrant, who did manage a 4th leg 121 out and a sole maxi. Wright put his opponent out of his misery by taking the next 4 including a spectacular 156 finish in the7th.
Night 9 – HIGHLIGHTS
Durrant 5 – Cross 7, Clayton 7 – MvG 3, Aspinall 7 – Anderson 2, de Sousa 6 – Wright 6, v.d. Bergh 6 – Wade 6.
Both Cross and Durrant set P.L. Judgement Night benchmarks. Cross eliminated with a highest 7-point total, Durrant, pointless after 9 matches. Clayton took full advantage of MvG, whose form resembles a Yo-Yo. Clayton was 4-1 up in no time, recording a 177, 2×180, and 11, 15 dart legs. A 129 in the 6th from MvG was immediately cancelled out from his opponents 104. Victory was only going Clayton’s way, who sealed the game with a 100.25 ave.
Similarly, another former World Champ was outgunned by a ” new kid on the block ” The Asp, who comfortably found himself 6-1 up against his idol, Anderson. l don’t think the Scot has the desire necessary to compete these days, but remains a dangerous rival. The Asp nailed a 102-finishing shot for a 102.45 ave. Anderson a lowly 88.35.
Wright fired 6×180 in the 1st five legs but was only all square at 3-3 when de Sousa replied with a 13 in the 6th. Wright took 3 of the next 4 inc. a 139 out, ensuring the draw. De Sousa never lies down, responding with a 14, 11 and 3×180, for shared spoils and 100+ ave.
Surprise of the tournament for me is Wade, a last-minute substitute for Gerwyn Price, he may well make the K.O. stage. A well-deserved draw against the very capable Dimitri and a 102.93 ave. points to a resurgent Wade. A couple of 12’s and a superb 8th leg,10 darter, followed by a 160 gameshot from Dimitri, would finish off most, but all credit to the veteran, the remaining 3 went his way inc. an 11 and 14, for a point apiece.