Michael van Gerwen crashed out of the Premier League after a stunning defeat to Daryl Gurney on a night that saw Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Nathan Aspinall secure a place in October’s Play-Offs.
Van Gerwen has ruled the Premier League roost every year since entering, finishing top of the league phase for all seven previous years, reaching all seven finals and claiming five titles.
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But that will not be the case this year as an alarming slump in form saw him win just three of his last nine matches to drop from first to sixth and leave the tournament wide open when the Play-Offs take place in October at The O2.
Van Gerwen’s defeat to Gurney, when he needed a win to even have a chance, confirmed Gary Anderson and Peter Wright in the top four after Glen Durrant became just the third man to top the league phase when Gerwyn Price beat Anderson in the opener.
However Price missed out on a first ever top four finish when Nathan Aspinall secured the point he needed before going on to beat Duzza in the final match of the league phase.
It was MVG’s elimination that made the headlines on the final night in Milton Keynes as the world No 1 ended the final night of the regular competition as he started it – on the outside looking in.
Lacklustre Van Gerwen stunned by Super Chin
Michael van Gerwen is used to being in the driving seat and delivering under pressure, but knowing he had to win to stand even a chance of progress he slumped to a shock 8-2 defeat at the hands of Gurney.
Gerwyn Price had piled the pressure on the world No 1, who has won each of the last four Premier League titles, by beating Gary Anderson but rather than rise to the occasion, Van Gerwen shrunk.
A 16-dart break gave Gurney the opening leg, and he consolidated it before a third leg that told the story of Van Gerwen’s campaign.
The Dutchman had been top after the opening night of the tournament’s resumption but a fourth defeat in nine games since was summed up when Gurney was able to break in 22 darts for a 3-0 lead.
Despite barely averaging above 90 himself Gurney found himself 6-0 in front, a 121 finish his highlight before Van Gerwen finally got on the board.
Having missed his first nine darts at double, MVG finally hit the outer ring for a brilliant 121 finish but that was as good as things got.
Gurney clinched a point to go 7-1 in front, and secure Anderson and Wright’s top-four spot
Needing to win six legs to earn a point for even a slim chance of qualifying, MVG managed just one more as Gurney claimed the win and inflicted the defeat that left Van Gerwen sixth in the final standings.
Price misses out despite Anderson romp
Both men entered the match with plenty to play for, a big win for Anderson would have kept slim hopes of top spot alive, while Price needed a win to stand any chance of reaching the top four.
It was Price who got what he wanted, claimed maximum points to pile the pressure on the four men above him with an 8-3 win that moved him into the top four, but it was to proved temporary as Aspinall claimed the final spot and moved into third place.
Price won 7-1 more than a week ago in one of only two defeats for Anderson since the resumption, but another heavy defeat left the Scot sweating on his place.
All had looked good for Anderson early on as he took out 110 to level before landing the first break for a 2-1 lead.
That was as good as it got as Price claimed the next two for a 3-2 lead that meant Anderson could no longer deny Durrant top spot in the league phase – the already-unlikely scenario of a 14-leg swing was now impossible
Anderson stopped the rot with a sizzling 170 but couldn’t halt the Price juggernaut as he claimed the next two for a huge win that was sealed with a 100 checkout. While Price’s win proved fruitless, Anderson’s defeat and the wins for Wight and Apsinall meant Anderson dropped to fourth.
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Aspinall eases past Duzza to reach last four
Nathan Aspinall joined Durrant in making the step up from Contender last year to title hopeful this year. Both men were making their first appearance in the tournament proper after losing as guests last year and the pair will be at The O2 next month with eyes on the winner’s trophy and the £250,000 first prize.
Unsurprisingly with more riding on the match for Aspinall it was the man from Stockport who bossed the contest from the outset, the pressure eased on Duzza just five legs into the night when Price cruised past Anderson.
Missed darts from Durrant in each of the two legs allowed The Asp to seize the initiative and while Duzza got himself on the board, a composed Aspinall moved through the gears, a brilliant 170 finish putting him 5-1 in front and within two legs of the point he needed.
A trademark big finish from Durrant did little to halt Aspinall, who matched Durrant’s 127 with his own 124 that secured the point and before sealing a deserved win.
Duzza departs safe in the knowledge a memorable first year finishes with top spot but one win from his last six and a four-match winless streak will give him plenty to think about as both men prepare to return for a shot at the title.
Snakebite pinches second after sinking Smith
At the start of the night Peter Wright knew there was a chance he could miss out of the top four. Instead, after Van Gerwen’s defeat, the pressure was off and he wrapped up a victory over Michael Smith to secure just a second appearance in the semi-finals.
The world champion has been among the most consistent performers this year and with nine wins he chalked up more victories than anyone else but he was forced to work hard by an already eliminated Bully Boy.
Snakebite dominated the early exchanges, weathering Smith’s early 128 finish to open up 4-1 and then 6-2 leads before securing a point with the ninth leg of the contest.
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