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…
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
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:
- Van Gerwen’s just too Andy (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Premier League Darts preview: Why Phil “The Power” Taylor is still the man to beat (mirror.co.uk)