With the 2013 PDC World Darts Championship final still fresh in everyone’s minds, Taylor versus Van Gerwen was perhaps a fitting fixture for the first round of this year’s Premier League.
The two finalists of the inaugural Sid Waddell Trophy, as the PDC Worlds will now be known, served up a treat for the 8,000 fans who’d headed to Belfast’s Odyssey Arena to see the new-look Premier League bull off.
MVG showed everyone just why he’s the darter the PDC players have least looked forward to being drawn against this last six months, too.
The young Dutch superstar, still only 23 and strongly fancied to take over from The Power as long-term world number 1, twice held a two-leg advantage (3-1 & 6-4) over the 16-time champion of the world.
Van Gerwen misses 5 darts for victory over Taylor
Indeed, had it not been for sloppy finishing in the 11th leg, Van Gerwen would have powered to both points on his Premier League debut. But 5 missed darts at the doubles let Taylor back in against the throw.
It was perhaps fitting that Taylor closed out the match with a 104 finish in the twelfth leg to share the points from the 6-all thriller, both darters having gone close to nine-darters over the course of the top-of-the-bill match.
As you’d expect, Mighty Mike was gutted to have thrown away victory and get a little revenge for the Worlds final last month. Conversely, Taylor was happy to have secured the point having seen five match darts from his opponent fail to hit the mark.
In the other games, comebacks were also prevalent features of proceedings. Like MVG, Flying Scot Gary Anderson twice held a two-leg advantage over Raymond Van Barneveld, winning the first two legs without response an the fourth.
But Anderson could only chalk up one more leg as RVB won six out of the next seven to run out 7-4 winner.
Another Premier League debutante Robert Thornton, continued his fine run of form on the PDC circuit.
The Thorn raced into a 5-1 lead over The Hammer, who eventually put up a fight of his own. But The Torn was strong enough to regain the momentum and close out victory 7-5.
James Wade too strong for Warrior Wes
James Wade, a former winner of this event, faced the third of the Premier League’s new boys, Wes Newton.
Wes has forced his way into the top 6 of the world with a steady run over the last two years, which has seen the Fleetwood darter dominant on the floor events.
But James Wade’s Premier League experience and, if you believe it, the bespoke training he put in in anticipation of the first round of this year’s premier darts competition, saw him notch up a 7-4 victory.
The game between Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis was very much a case of ‘as you were, gentlemen.”
Whitlock reminded us of his ability to check out stunning three-figure, three-dart combos. The Australian took out 121 and 108 on his way to a 7-3 over the former PDC World Champ.
Lewis was once again found to be struggling with his form, much as he was last weekend in Hamburg when he and Phil Taylor retained the Darts World Cup.
To me, Lewis’ mind seems to be on other things, with darts very much a second best in his order of priorities.
This was typified when he hit a 180 to set himself up with a 60 finish, then bust the score on the next dart finding the treble 20 instead of the single.
Memories of Jocky v Eric as McCoys Premier League heads to Scotland
And it will certainly be no easier for Lewis, or any of the other Stokies, Wes or Wade.
The Premier League heads up to Aberdeen next Thursday where English darters always face a hostile reception. Thank Eric Bristow and the late, great Jocky Wilson for setting that precedent in the drinking, smoking days of the News of the World darts championship.
Scots Anderson and Thornton, Dutch stars RVB and MVG and Aussie, Whitlock will all be looking to capitalise on the partisan AECC crowd in round two of fourteen of this year’s McCoy’s Darts Premier League.
Join us next week for a round-up of all of the Valentine’s Day action where there’ll be no love lost in The Highlands between the Scots crowd and English darters.
- England win the World Cup of Darts – shock fecking horror. (Get Thet, Go!)
- Premier League Darts Preview and Week 1 Tips Live on Sky Sports (sportsbettingbloggers.wordpress.com)
- Premier League Darts: Get ready for a darting rollercoaster as Phil Taylor looks to defend his title (mirror.co.uk)