Judgement Night from Liverpool was rightly overshadowed by the devastating news of the passing of darting pioneer and legend, Eric Bristow, at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack.
In an incredible career, darts first superstar, Bristow, was five times world champion in the 1980s alongside winning five World Masters titles too. In 2005, the East London native was inducted in the PDC Hall of Fame alongside long time rival John Lowe.
Bristow was a major player in the foundation of the Professional Darts Corporation as the game split into the two factions of the PDC and British Darts Organisation while he also played a massive part in the development of 16-time world champion Phil Taylor, serving as a sponsor and mentor of his in the early days of his career.
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn led the tributes to Bristow, stating: “Eric will always be a legend in the world of darts and British sport. He was a tremendous player and a huge character and even after his retirement fans would travel for miles to meet him and see him play.
“Eric was never afraid of controversy, but he spoke as he found and was honest and straightforward which is what people admired about him. The PDC, and the sport of darts, will miss him.”
Sky spotter and long-time friend and rival of Bristow’s, Keith Deller, paid tribute to the great man in Liverpool as an emotional night of Premier League Darts was brought to a close as a packed Echo Arena chanted his name.
A touching tribute from the Liverpool crowd as news of five-time World Champion Eric Bristow MBE passing away, reaches darts fans around the World pic.twitter.com/UxVXZCMg9S
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) April 5, 2018
Ultimately, Bristow’s impact helped develop the sport into the evolving juggernaut it is today. Without him, the game of darts simply would not be in such good health. It is with great sadness that this report is brought to you. RIP Eric.
Simon Whitlock 7-3 Gerwyn Price
In the night’s opener, an extremely scrappy affair, low on quality, Simon Whitlock bested Gerwyn Price. Defeat for the Welshman sees him bow out of the competition with the lowest points tally in Premier League history (since the format changed to 10 players in 2013).
The match began in extremely scrappy fashion as Whitlock missed thirteen darts at double in leg three, something that ‘The Iceman’ could not even capitalise on! Extremely low on confidence, Price fell 4-1 behind as he made repeated mistakes on his doubles.
Despite a mini-fightback, taking the score to 4-3 in errears, a sensational 164 checkout from the Australian knocked the rest of the wind out of Price as Whitlock went on to claim the next two legs for victory.
Raymond van Barneveld 0-7 Michael Smith
Michael Smith inflicted the ninth ever whitewash in the history of the Premier League as the man from St.Helens demolished Raymond van Barneveld with a wonderful display of scoring and, especially, double hitting.
The tone was set from ‘Bully Boy’ in the opening leg as Smith broke the throw for the 24th time in this year’s tournament, the most of anyone.
Ninth ever PL whitewash! Outrageous performance from Smith who demolished RvB! From there, Smith was ruthless, scoring heavily while acting clinically on the doubles as Barney’s chances, including wiring attempts at D16, D8, D4 and D2 in leg three, fell apart.
In continuing to pile more and more misery on van Barneveld, Smith was machine-like – hitting 7/8 on the doubles and with an average of 103 against a Barney who, while not on top form, still averaged 97.
Gary Anderson 5-7 Rob Cross
The clash between former world champions Gary Anderson and Rob Cross was no classic, proving especially below-par in the scoring department for these two men, but it was Rob Cross who, nonetheless, prevailed.
The difference, despite Anderson proving a much higher scorer throughout much of the match, was in the doubles as Cross ruthlessly took out far more of his chances (39 per cent) than that of Anderson (28 per cent).
In a topsy turvy mactch, Anderson will rue several legs, including leg three and five, where his doubling badly let him down, costing him at least a certain point. Cross’ victory solidifies his standing in the top four as the tournament now whittles itself down to eight men and a final set of fixtures before the 02 in May.
Mensur Suljovic 4-7 Michael van Gerwen
Mensur Suljovic showed lots of fight but it was ultimately not enough as the Austrian was eliminated from the 2018 Premier League with defeat to a phenomenal MvG performance.
Averaging 106 and with a staggering TEN 180s, the Dutch world number one held off a brave charge from ‘The Gentle’, who was rarely trailing by more than a single leg.
In a exceptionally fast start to the match, both players registered legs with six perfect darts in them in the opening two legs itself. The crucial point in the match proved to be leg five where Suljovic missed a dart at D12 and then D6 for a 3-2 lead. As it turned out, MvG stepped up and claimed a massive break which he then consolidated.
Despite nagging at his heels, Suljovic could not live with van Gerwen’s power in the end as he accelerated away with three of the last four legs of the match.
Daryl Gurney 6-6 Peter Wright
An emotional final match of the night made the events on stage very much secondary as news of Eric Bristow’s death spread around the area.
The match itself was a topsy turvy affair where neither played held a lead in excess of one leg throughout the entire contest.
Several high checkouts including a 121 from Gurney in leg two and a 100 from Wright in leg five punctuated the match as it headed for a nervy finish.
Wright, put under extreme pressure in the game’s final leg, hit six perfect darts once more before then hitting a 93 checkout to share the spoils. The sad news had clearly got to ‘Snakebite’ however as he left the stage in tears following the match.