This years Premier League tournament hasn’t proved to be as predictable as some thought. With the standard of the game improving each year, it is really hard to predict what will happen. Next Thursday’s showdown in Glasgow marks the halfway stage of the Betway Premier League and there are many players who are looking likely for a top four spot, as well as those fighting to stay in the competition.
Despite losing to an in-form Stephen Bunting in Nottingham on Thursday night, Chisnall still looks very likely to cement a top four finish. With the last six weeks seeing ‘Chissy’ battle it out for top spot with the world number one, Michael Van Gerwen, he has so far proved his abilities amongst this years elite.
Week five saw Chisnall demolish world champion Gary Anderson 7-2 and left him top of the table going into this weeks fixtures in Nottingham. ‘Chissy’ just seemed to have dropped a gear or two against his fellow St Helen, Stephen Bunting, which allowed Van Gerwen to leap frog him into top spot. Chisnall’s scoring power is very strong but undoubtedly too many poor shots at double have cost him his unbeaten run.
With the form Chissy has shown in the last few weeks, I would expect him to book a place for finals night at the O2 Arena in May. It would take a massive dip in form for the St Helens maestro to fail and he’s without doubt my favourite player of the tournament up to now. Next week Chisnall will face Van Gerwen in Glasgow which could prove to be one of the best games of this Premier League so far.
‘Snakebite’ is a player that is built for the Premier League. His crazy hair along with some debatable dancing skills create an ‘in your face’ ego that fits perfectly with the massed fans looking for a good time. So far this Premier League campaign has seen some mixed performances from the Scot who many thought would come out flying. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case but it looks like Wright’s weekend in Minehead at the Coral UK Championships might prove to be a turning point.
This week Wright sealed his first win of the tournament with a close 7-5 win over Kim Huybrechts. A 98.50 average and a 44% checkout ratio was evidence of a tidy performance. However, if Wright wants to make a push for the top four spots, he will need to up these figures in the coming weeks. Wright feeds of confidence, and he seems to be full of it at the moment – so hopefully he will come out in full force in the coming weeks.
Along with Chisnall, he would be another to keep your eye on, as I believe both have more then enough to make it to finals night. ‘Snakebite‘ has a harder task in front of him compared to ‘Chissy’ but in my eyes the Scot has enough time to make a push up the table. Next weeks match up with Bunting will be a tough affair but Wright’s experience along with his current form should see him seal a point at the least.
Lewis is a player I have admired for many years, and in many respects is a reason I’m still in love with darts despite a stutter in the last couple of years. After a disappointing weekend at the Coral UK Championships, Lewis decided to have an equipment modification. This modification came in the form of some additional grip – added to the back of the dart – to prevent any unnecessary slipping. In my opinion, this is a slight cry for help as Adrian is suffering from a major confidence hit, resulting in too many average performances of late.
In Nottingham, it was Anderson who stood in his way with a 7-1 demolition. Lewis over the years has become a player renowned for his consistent big scores and high out-shots but of late this doesn’t seem to be the case. Thursday’s performance proved this with constant low scores and pulled darts missing there targets.
Week nine of the tournament will see the bottom two players of the league eliminated, leaving the last eight to battle it out for the top four spots. Lewis currently finds himself one spot above the bottom two, and with the way he’s been playing of late, I wouldn’t be overly shocked if he found himself in the elimination zone after week nine.
Kim’s debut Premier League season hasn’t got off to the best start as he finds himself rock bottom after week six, hut the Belgium has produced some incredible darts in the last few weeks. Narrowly missing a nine-dart finish against Chisnall, and losing the match with a 107 average in week four, along with brushing Anderson aside a week later, Kim really is unfortunate to be in the position he finds himself in.
For Huybrechts, it’s been a case of not performing at the critical moments. Even though the Belgian has produced some convincing performances in previous weeks, it’s just been those crucial moments that have made the difference to where Kim finds himself in the table.
I believe Huybrechts has more then enough to pull himself out of the bottom two, but with the quality the Premier League has to offer, it might prove to be one hurdle too many for the Belgian.
As things stand I would predict both Van Barneveld and Huybrechts to be shown the door, with Van Gerwen, Chisnall, Taylor and Anderson making up the top four and making their way to London in May.