Not enough Power to short circuit The Machine in Darts Premier League Week 4

Ahead of last night’s Premier League darts from Exeter, Phil Taylor warned of the threat posed by James Wade and was taking nothing for granted.

Were they just platitudes given how the odds were stacked in Phil’s favour, based on recent history? It seems not.

  • Exeter’s Westpoint Arena was the stage for The Power’s record 117.35 match average for the PDC Premier League, which he clocked up against Aussie darter Simon Whitlock last year
  • It was James Wade who Phil “The Power” Taylor famously clocked up two nine-darters against in the final of this competition back in 2010
  • James Wade had not beaten Phil in thirteen previous attempts – how unlucky is that?

So, could there be any other result than a landslide Taylor victory on the cards? Certainly, the bookies didn’t seem to think so.

James “The Machine” Wade, on the other hand, had other ideas…

Premier League Darts in Edinburgh

Premier League Darts (Credit: robbie_shade/Flickr/CC2.0)

Wade wins the darts from Taylor to throw first

The first sign of an upset came when Wade won the throw from Taylor, crucial in a best of 12 match such as the short format of the PDC Premier League.

Winning the bull’s crucial whenever you’re up against sixteen-time champion of the world, Phil Taylor, to be fair.

However, order looked to have been restored in this nip and tuck match as, come the eleventh leg, Taylor had broken Wade, was 6-4 up and needed only one of the last two legs to take both points.

As recently as last season, that would have been enough to see Taylor through, Wade’s confidence what it was. But last night was different.

At no point did Wade start looking uncomfortably around him, start looking disinterested or show any of the signs of the lack of confidence that has plagued him of late.

The Machine was never out of the match all of the way through, only ever being 2 legs behind and that was enough to retain his interest.

It was the look of steely determination on his face as he broke Taylor back in the twelfth and final leg to secure a 6-6 draw – and a crucial point that sees him just one behind the leaders – that tells you how far down the road James has come and how close he is to being a genuine contender for this title again in 2013.

Results elsewhere didn’t do the Power any favours

Debutant Robert Thornton yet again showed his class and has finally silenced any doubters of the league’s extension to accommodate ten players instead of eight this season.

The Thorn is one of those darters who may not be here without the league’s expansion; it would be one hell of a miscarriage of justice based on his opening form.

Last night, he was up against fellow Scot Gary Anderson who, on his day, can out score any darter on the planet.

Gary didn’t get a look in, however, as The Thorn ripped The Flying Scotsman to pieces with a 7-2 victory to join the Power at the top of the table on 6 points.

Michael Van Gerwen remains undefeated and joins The Thorn and The Power on 6 points after he too romped home 7-2, this match against the third Stokie in this year’s Premier League, Andy “The Hammer” Hamilton.

MVG’s PDC World Title final disappointment, losing eventually to Taylor, looks well and truly past the young Dutch star.

Five 180’s in the match saw him coast to his second straight win after opening the campaign with two draws.

And this despite The Hammer starting with a 180 of his own and taking the first leg of last night’s match.

Fellow Dutchman Barney produced an absolutely solid display against Whitlock, who must be sick to the death of Exeter.

Unbelievably, The Wizard hit six 180s in ten legs of darts against Raymond Van Barneveld but was still thrashed 7-3 by the big Dutchman.

RVB joins fellow countryman Van Gerwen and The Power and The Thorn on 6 points for a four-way tie at the top of the PDC Premier League after week 4.

No Jackpot for Lewis, downed by The Warrior

Down at the other end of the table, it was a match between Wes Newton and former World Champ Adrian Lewis, neither of whom had managed a win in the first three weeks of this year’s competition.

It was Lewis who looked favourite after breaking Newton in the first leg, both men missing 4 darts at doubles at the end of a nervous opener.

Newton broke straight back in the second, a leg that proved to be the first in an eventually-decisive four-leg-streak for The Warrior

Wes had seemingly turned the match around to 4-1 in his favour at a canter, with no response whatsoever from an out of sorts Jackpot.

It took a 117 checkout from Lewis in the sixth to stop the rot, but it proved only a temporary relief for the Stokie.

Newton took the next two legs to forge 6-2 ahead and move within one of his first ever PDC Premier League victory.

Lewis took the ninth after Newton made a hash of his finish, but the man from Fleetwood made no such mistake in the tenth to run out 7-3 victor, leaving Lewis yet to pick up a point so far this year.

Week 5 fixtures, PDC Darts Premier League

I wouldn’t fancy Lewis’ chances of getting off the mark next week in Nottingham, either.

Jackpot takes on Van Gerwen in a fixture list that, from the outside looking in, only contains one match that could go either way.

The rest are stone-wall bankers; my favourites to win each match I’ve listed first in the week 5 fixtures, below:

  • Barney, or RVB as he’s becoming more popularly known, takes on Andy “The Hammer” Hamilton
  • Mighty Mike Van Gerwen is up against Jackpot Lewis, as we said
  • Simon Whitlock should leapfrog Wes Newton with a win – only his second this season, despite some incredible darts
  • The Power should do the biz against a lacklustre Gary Anderson
  • Thornton v Wade is the game for me that could upset a few accumulators

Wade proved in coming from two legs down to snatch a point against Taylor last night that on his day he’s man and machine enough for anyone.

The form books will all point to Thornton continuing his unbeaten start to the season.

If you’re looking for a bit of value next week, I Sherwood put a few quid on Wade in Nottingham at week 5 of this year’s McCoys PDC Dart Premier League.

Join us again next Friday for a round up of week five of the PDC Premier League; in the meantime, here’s the table after Week 4 from the Westpoint Arena in Exeter:

PDC Premier League Table Week 4

PDC Premier League Table Week 4 (SKY Sports Darts)

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England win the World Cup of Darts – shock fecking horror.

Okay, so darts may be England’s last bastion in sports. A game that we dominate and have done ever since its inception.

That’s not saying there’ve not been challengers for the world crown from other countries along the way. There have been and then some.

But one glance at past winners of the World Championship tells you everything you need to know about the global kingpins of darts.

And so it proved again at yesterday’s World Cup of Darts marathon day in Hamburg, with the semi-finals being played in the afternoon and the final last night.

England retain darts’ world crown – just

betfair world darts finalists ronny and kim huybrechts, phil taylor and adrian lewis

Ronny & Kim Huybrechts, Belgium (runners-up) alongside Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis, England, PDC/Betfair World Cup of Darts Champions

For its dominance over the years, England could so easily have gone out at either the quarter-final stage or the semi stage in Germany this weekend.

James Wade, renowned for his accuracy on double ten, must have put a curse on the red bit when he represented England in the first ever World Cup of Darts two years ago.

Although he and Taylor memorably failed that year, The Power and Lewis righted that wrong last year and again this. But let’s hope there’s a good launderette in Stoke.

In the last 16 match against South Africa on Saturday and then the semi-final against Wales yesterday afternoon, darters had shots to put England on the next Boeing back across The Channel.

Charl Pietersen needed 80 for South Africa with their quarter-final against the Taylor/Lewis combo going into the deciding doubles match. Poised at 4-4, the young South African’s first dart was clean as a whistle into the treble 20.

But the pressure of such a famous scalp saw his double 10 effort and subsequent double 5 an inch inside both targets.

And with quite literally the first sighting of ‘Jackpot’ of the weekend – at least the darter who won the 2011 and 2012 PDC World Championships – England stepped up to the oche at the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle to clean up with Tops.

Another England scare against Japan in the quarters

Saturday night saw England face Japan. Muramatsu, whom we’ve seen at the last two PDC World Championships at the Ally-Pally, played like the darter Phil Taylor has prophesied he will become.

Behind Muramatsu and World Cup of Darts team-mate, Katsumi, The Power expects to see a wave of Asian darters flood the PDC. On this performance, that day looks ever closer.

The way the seeds fell on Saturday, Taylor knew anything was possible over such a short format. And, boy, how very nearly did the unthinkable happen?

Taylor did a job on Muramatsu to put England 1-0 up. But Lewis struggled with his form again against Katsumi.

This second singles match went all the way.  Katsumi set himself up for a shot at 140, missing out only on that good old double 10, which would have sown the match up as early as the sixth leg.

Phil Taylor: The Power (autobiography)

Phil Taylor: The Power (autobiography)
Amazon.co.uk

You can tempt fate once too often. In the seventh leg, double 10 was again the obstacle facing English opponents. Katsumi made no mistake on this occasion and sent the match into the doubles play-off.

Japan stormed into a 2-0 lead in the pairs play-off, following the first real blip of Taylor’s week in the first leg. The Power soon made up for the error – and how!?

Taylor had single-handedly pulled the match back to 2-1.  But, in the fourth leg, Muramatsu was left 56 by Katsumi with Taylor, in between, facing a 160 checkout.

The way Muramatsu was playing, the 56 would have gone, for sure. At 3-1 down, it would have been a very different story for England.

But this is why Taylor is 16-time world champion.

  •  Treble 20!
  •  Treble 20!
    • Bang!
  • Tops!

2-2 instead of 1-3 and the English boys never looked back, sealing a place in the semis against last year’s opponents at the same stage, Wales, with a 4-2 victory.

Wales make the last day for 3rd successive year

You have to feel for Wales. In the inaugural event in 2011, they lost to Holland in the final. Last year, they met England here in the semi-final who saw them off on their way to the title.

As Phil Taylor had carried Adrian Lewis for most of the tournament, Mark Webster was the man to beat in this semi-final rather than Richie Burnett.

No, that’s perhaps a little harsh on Richie. Webster was outstanding, so much so that it perhaps overshadowed the Prince of Wales’ performance.

Indeed, if the chance that fell to Burnett in the sixth leg to send England packing had dropped to Webster, there may be dragons on the trophy today instead of lions.

Wales were 3-2 up with England sat on double 4 after Taylor had missed double 16 and 8 respectively to tie the match at 3-3.

Burnett needed the same 140 to take Wales through to the final that Japan’s Katsumi had been tasked with in the previous round against Lewis.

England sphincters clenched as both of Burnett’s first two darts found the treble 20, leaving that same old double ten that Pietersen and Katsumi had missed in the previous rounds.

And once again, the third dart in the combo landed an inch inside the wire, leaving Jackpot to tidy up double 4 and send the match into a tiebreaker.

In that 7th and final leg, Lewis began to at last shoulder some of the pressure and stepped up to the oche to close the match out 4-3 and seal what looked at one stage a very unlikely England darts victory.

England breezed the World Cup of Darts final

The final against Belgium’s Huybrechts brothers did, however, go pretty much to the form-book.

Taylor, imperious all week, won both of his singles games. Lewis fell to Kim Huybrechts who, behind Taylor, was the star of the weekend’s proceedings.

Kim Huybrechts at the 2013 World Cup of Darts

Kim Huybrechts at the 2013 World Cup of Darts

But Jackpot beat Kim’s older brother, Ronny who, on his first televised performance at this Betfair World cup of Darts, did his brother, country and recently-deceased father proud every step of the way.

Should the match have been tied 2-2 at the end of the singles, there was the proviso for a pairs play-off. But it wasn’t necessary.

Two singles victories for Taylor and one for Lewis wrapped up the final at 3-1 to retain England’s world darting crown. And, it has to be said, with a lot less drama than the three rounds that had gone before.

Okay, it was perhaps predictable. But there were moments that suggest England, like every other sport they’ve created, will not have it all their own way for that much longer.

Join me for more darts on Wednesday as we preview the new-look Premier League, which kicks off in Belfast on Thursday evening.

Have a great week. I hope you enjoyed this World Cup of Darts review.

For blow-by-blow details of the last 16 through to the final, you can catch the scores and stats on the PDC website:

Both photos, Courtesy of PDC.tv, World Cup of Darts