Phil Taylor

This Week – Our Weekly Trawl Through Darts’ Archive Nets.

This edition of our regular look back through some of darts most memorable, or significant, moments, stretches from March 15th – March 21st. We journey back as far as the early 1990’s and through to 2015. Wade, Barney, Aspinall, Hamilton and Lazarenko all feature:

29 Years Ago:

Raymond van Barneveld
The RVB legend got moving in 1991. This week 29 years ago marked a good start to a signature season.

The German Open, from 1991, was in the second year of what would prove an unbroken run until this year (lets us hope that they can rearrange 2020’s event!). It was notable for a few reasons. Raymond Van Barneveld began a season that would see him win his first ranking event. RVB had to settle for a Qtr Final here though. U.S. star Steve Brown reached the final and showed a little of what was to come. Steve finished in the 3rd place in the first PDC World Championship in 1994, defeating Peter Evison in the play off match, and was still playing elite darts into his 50’s. As with a number of overseas players it is shame that we did not witness Steve at his best, for a longer time, but the slump in darts popularity made it impossible for many to travel and earn a living. Belgian Bruno Raes claimed the title overcoming Brown in the final. Raes was a quite the home player! Between 1991 and 2009 he was the whole range of Belgian events, Belgian Championships, Gold Cups Opens and National Championships were claimed repeatedly while he seemed rarely to venture beyond his borders. Indeed the German Championship may have been his only non Belgian title. Bruno make an exception for the majors in Britain, reaching the last 32 of the World Championships (x2) and the World Masters as late as 2011.

9 Years Ago:

Vincent van der Voort
Vincent was having a good start to 2011. This week saw him reach the semi’s of the RTL7 Masters.

Speaking of 2011, that year saw the only holding of the RTL7 Masters. The Dutch TV giant sponsored a invitational event not dissimilar to the current Champions League of Darts. After a group stage, four groups of three, the semi finals featured Phil Taylor vs Gary Anderson and Vincent Van de Voort against Raymond van Barneveld (handy for Dutch TV) the sponsors were rewarded with the final they craved. ‘The Power’ took on RVB with Taylor emerging triumphant, as was usually the case, by a score of 8-3 in the final.

Another event beginning to become an established feature on the calendar, was the Torremolinos Open weekend. The 2011 tournament was claimed by young Jake Jones. Jake defeated the immortal, so it seems, Paul Harvey in the final. Jones was not yet 18, whereas Harvey was in his late forties and enjoying a very good spell of results. Jones continued an excellent junior career, but is yet to realise his full potential in the game. Harvey is still playing well and was most recently spotted at Rileys qualifier for the UK Open.

5 Years Ago:

James Wade
Often overlooked James Wade was reaching finals, and winning events, from 2002 to 2015 and indeed this very weekend!

James Wade claimed the Pro Tour event held on March 15th (A feat he came close to repeating yesterday when he was runner up to Ian White). His route to the title was one of the tougher, his defeat of Peter Wright, in the final, was preceeded by wins over a handful of superb players including Micheal Smith, Gerwyn Price, Kev Thomas and Mensur. Many undervalue ‘The Machine’s career, but it should be noted that he has been winning PDC ranking events (Pro Tour) since 2002 and is still only 36 years old! Hidden away on the same day Nathan Aspinall can be seen bowing out at the L64 stage. Nathan should be a lesson to all, it is possible to have a tough time at the highest level but then to learn, re group and step up again.

Birthdays:

Andy Hamilton
Happy Birthday to The Hammer (53).

Amongst this week’s birthdays are: ‘Big Cliff’ Lazerenko (68) and Andy Hamilton (53). Both men reached Major Championship finals, only to be thwarted by the icons of their day. In Cliff’s case Eric, John, Jockey or Bob were usually in his path. Whereas, Andy, was often prevented, from lifting trophies, by fellow Stoke-on-Trent titans Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis.

Cliff, however, did manage to lift both the British Open and the British Matchplay.


The Asp Claims Player’s Championship Seven.

Nathan Aspinall claimed the £10,000 top prize at Players Championship 7 in Barnsley on Saturday, beating Brendan Dolan 8-4 in the final to pick up his second title of 2020.

PIC;LAWRENCE Lustig: NATHAN ASPINALL IN ACTION

The Premier League star recovered from 4-2 down to seal the win, ending the final with an average of 94 as he reeled off six successive legs – five of which were between 12 and 14 darts.

The former UK Open champion first saw off Alan Tabern before going on to secure wins over Geert Nentjes, Chris Dobey and Vincent van der Voort.

The last eight is where Aspinall produced his standout victory, beating world number one Michael van Gerwen 6-1 to progress to the semi-finals.

Another Dutchman – Danny Noppert – was Aspinall’s next victim as the US Darts Masters champion brushed his opponent aside in a 7-3 win to move in to the final.

Dolan took the early initiative in the decider, moving in to a 4-2 lead before Aspinall fought back superbly to win the title.

“I played steady at times and not so well at others but I’m really happy,” said Aspinall. “I’m full of confidence and was determined to have a good run this weekend.

“I know what I can produce and I know how good I am and there is no reason why I can’t win more titles.”

Aspinall is currently planning his wedding to partner Kirsty-Louise, and after pocking a second £10,000 cheque of the year added: “The other half is booking our wedding soon so I need the money!”

It was also a good day for finalist Brendan Dolan, who moved through the field with some impressive wins.

The Northern Ireland World Cup star began his day with a 6-4 win over Adrian Gray, before going on to defeat Niels Zonneveld, Ciaran Teehan and Dave Chisnall.

A quarter-final win over Derk Telnekes secured a semi-final clash with multiple title winner James Wade, where Dolan was far too good for his English opponent, coming through with a 7-1 win.

Despite a good start in the final Dolan wasn’t able to overcome Aspinall and secure a third title within a year – but the the 46-year-old will be pleased with his day’s work.

L PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG : JAMES WADE IN ACTION

Wade enjoyed his best run of 2020 so far as he reached the semi-finals alongside Noppert, while Telnekes overcame World Champion Peter Wright as he reached his first quarter-final on the PDC ProTour.

The PDC ProTour weekend in Barnsley concludes on Sunday with Players Championship 8, where 128 players will be hoping to claim the title.

Players Championship Eight
Saturday March 14, Barnsley Metrodome
Last 16

Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Vincent van der Voort
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Luke Humphries
Danny Noppert 6-0 Daryl Gurney
Ian White 6-1 Kai Fan Leung
James Wade 6-2 Glen Durrant
Derk Telnekes 6-1 Peter Wright
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Dave Chisnall

Quarter-Finals
Nathan Aspinall 6-1 Michael van Gerwen
Danny Noppert 6-2 Krzysztof Ratajski
James Wade 6-5 Ian White
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Derk Telnekes

Semi-Finals
Nathan Aspinall 7-3 Danny Noppert
Brendan Dolan 7-1 James Wade

Final
Nathan Aspinall 8-4 Brendan Dolan

Players Championship (7) Underway – Wade Resurgent.

The 2020 PDC ProTour season continues with Players Championship 7 in Barnsley on Saturday.

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG : JAMES WADE IN ACTION

The opening day of the ProTour double-header will see 128 players in action, with the field made up of Tour Card Holders and Associate Members from the Unicorn Challenge Tour.

Due to the current situation there have been a number of changes from the original list of entries.

James Wade, Brendan Dolan, Nathan Aspinall and Danny Noppert have all reached the last four.

Wade seems to have returned to a higher performance level and has inflicted anumber of last leg defeats on in form players including Ian White.


Pics – PDC

Italics – DW Editorial staff.

UK Open Day 1 – Full Review and Results.

Michael van Gerwen and Chris Dobey produced the performances of the day on a thrilling opening to the Ladbrokes UK Open at Butlin’s Minehead Resort on Friday.

LADBROKES UK OPEN 2020 BUTLINS RESORT, MINEHEAD, PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG ROUND 4 MICHAEL VAN GERWEN V NATHAN ASPINALL MICHAEL VAN GERWEN IN ACTION

The 159-player, multi-board tournament began with a bumper day of darts, with the opening four rounds seeing the field whittled down to 32 competitors who will return on Saturday afternoon to continue the battle for the £100,000 title.

Friday afternoon’s early rounds included first round defeats for female duo Lisa Ashton and Fallon Sherrock – to Mike De Decker and Kyle McKinstry respectively – as well as Brisbane Darts Masters champion Damon Heta, against Scott Waites.

2012 UK Open champion Robert Thornton was a third round casualty, while former finalists Barrie Bates and Andy Hamilton lost out in round two.

The arrival of the world’s top 32 players in Friday evening’s fourth round saw the drama increase further as reigning champion Nathan Aspinall drew world number one Van Gerwen in a crunch clash.

A high-quality affair saw neither player able to open up more than a two-leg lead throughout, before two-time champion Van Gerwen eventually closed out a 10-8 success with a 105.5 average.

Jason Lowe is ‘rewarded’ with a meeting against MVG in the L32 tomorrow.

Van Gerwen will now play Jason Lowe in Saturday afternoon’s fifth round, after the Cradley Heath thrower – a Tour Card winner at Qualifying School in January – defeated Cody Harris, Jonathan Worsley and 2014 UK Open champion Adrian Lewis to reach the last 32.

Chris Dobey and Krzysztof Ratajski both averaged over 105 in an outstanding fourth round tie which saw the Bedlington ace come from 9-8 down to win 10-9, taking out a 91 bull finish in the deciding leg of a thriller.

World number three Gerwyn Price was another impressive performer as he averaged 104 in his dominant 10-3 defeat of Danny Noppert, and the Welshman will now play Ricky Evans after the Kettering ace overcame Joe Murnan 10-4.

2017 UK Open champion Peter Wright emerged victorious from another tight contest, averaging over 102 in his 10-8 win over Glen Durrant.

The World Champion now plays Ian White, who averaged almost 100 in a 10-6 win over emerging talent Harry Ward.

2018 UK Open winner Gary Anderson gained revenge for his loss to Steve Beaton in this event 12 months ago with a 10-7 victory as he progressed to a tie with Plymouth’s Simon Stevenson, who saw off both Kevin Doets and Darren Webster in a deciding leg.

Former World Champion Rob Cross, last year’s runner-up to Aspinall in Minehead, hit back from 6-5 down to win 10-7 against Dutch youngster Niels Zonneveld.

Cross will now face Michael Smith in another plum fifth round tie, with the world number five having overcome James Wilson 10-4.

Ireland’s Willie O’Connor fought off a strong fightback from Dave Chisnall to claim a narrow 10-8 win, with the Morecambe ace having begun the game wearing glasses, removed them at 5-0 down before hitting back from a seven-leg deficit to trail 8-7 at one stage.

Stephen Bunting survived three missed match darts from Vincent van der Voort as he progressed to a meeting with St Helens rival Alan Tabern, who won four games on Friday to reach the last 32.

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG ROUND 4 LEWIS WILLIAMS V STEVE WEST LEWIS WILIAMS IN ACTION

Welsh student Lewis Williams and Essex decorator Rhys Hayden were the best-performing players from the 16 Rileys Amateur Qualifiers, as both won through to the last 64.

Williams saw off Robert Owen, Adrian Gray and Jose De Sousa before losing out 10-9 to Steve West, while Hayden saw off Jamie Clark, James Richardson and Toni Alcinas before his run was ended by Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Northern Ireland’s McKinstry followed up his win over Sherrock with defeats of Jason Heaver, Stephen Burton and Bradley Brooks as he moved through to the last 32.

He now plays Martin Schindler, who averaged over 102 in a superb performance against Justin Pipe in round four as the German moved into Saturday’s second day.

Two-time UK Open champion James Wade saw off Scotland’s John Henderson 10-5, and the left-hander now comes up against Kim Huybrechts after the Belgian ace saw off Robert Thornton and Ryan Searle on Friday.

Darryl Gurney is looking to reignite his season after Premier Leagues trials.

Daryl Gurney, Jamie Hughes, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Gabriel Clemens were other 10-9 winners in the fourth round, while Jonny Clayton ended the hopes of two-time Lakeside Champion Waites.

Max Hopp withdrew from the event on Friday morning due to glandular fever. As a result, Martin Atkins – who won three games in the afternoon session – received a Bye in the fourth round draw.

Saturday will see the afternoon session’s fifth round followed in the evening session by the sixth round, before Sunday sees the remaining eight players return to compete for the £100,000 title.

2020 Ladbrokes UK Open – Results

Friday March 6

Afternoon Session

  • First Round
  • Mike De Decker 6-2 Lisa Ashton
  • Scott Waites 6-4 Damon Heta
  • Kyle McKinstry 6-1 Fallon Sherrock
  • Cody Harris 6-5 Scott Taylor
  • Kai Fan Leung 6-3 Kelvin Self
  • Karel Sedlacek 6-0 Adam Hunt
  • Alan Tabern 6-2 Keane Barry
  • Andy Hamilton 6-3 Patrick Lynskey
  • Steffen Siepmann 6-4 Krzysztof Kciuk
  • Peter Jacques 6-4 Ciaran Teehan
  • Steve Brown 6-5 Michael Barnard
  • Daniel Larsson 6-5 Ryan Meikle
  • Jason Askew 6-4 Greg Ritchie
  • Jason Heaver 6-0 Jesus Noguera
  • Adam Smith-Neale 6-4 Ben Cheeseman
  • Nathan Rafferty 6-3 Darren Beveridge
  • Stephen Burton 6-1 Adam Huckvale
  • Rhys Hayden 6-5 James Clark
  • Bradley Brooks 6-5 Cameron Menzies
  • Harald Leitinger 6-1 Kevin Burness
  • Wesley Harms 6-3 Aaron Beeney
  • Danny van Trijp 6-4 Boris Koltsov
  • William Borland 6-2 Andrew Davidson
  • Lewis Williams 6-5 Robert Owen
  • Martin Atkins 6-5 Ryan Murray
  • Callan Rydz 6-5 Shane McGuirk
  • Wayne Jones 6-1 Gary Blades
  • Berry van Peer 6-3 Owen Roelofs
  • Justin Smith 6-3 Andy Jenkins
  • Derk Telnekes 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
  • James Richardson 6-4 Darren Penhall
  • Kevin Doets 6-1 Alfie Thompson
  • Second Round
  • Mark McGeeney 6-5 Scott Baker
  • John Michael 6-5 Jeff Smith
  • Kevin Doets 6-3 David Pallett
  • Kyle McKinstry 6-4 Jason Heaver
  • Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-0 Marko Kantele
  • Scott Waites 6-1 Geert Nentjes
  • Mike De Decker 6-5 Daniel Larsson
  • Bradley Brooks 6-2 Nick Kenny
  • Harry Ward 6-5 Gavin Carlin
  • Kai Fan Leung 6-2 Kirk Shepherd
  • Karel Sedlacek 6-2 Barrie Bates
  • Rhys Hayden 6-4 James Richardson
  • Andy Boulton 6-2 Reece Robinson
  • Maik Kuivenhoven 6-3 Nathan Derry
  • Wesley Harms 6-5 Justin Smith
  • Madars Razma 6-4 Derk Telnekes
  • Jonathan Worsley 6-4 Matt Clark
  • Steffen Siepmann 6-2 Carl Wilkinson
  • Ted Evetts 6-1 Berry van Peer
  • Alan Tabern 6-3 Steve Brown
  • Jason Lowe 6-1 Cody Harris
  • Martin Atkins 6-2 Christian Bunse
  • Nathan Rafferty 6-1 Mike van Duivenbode
  • Niels Zonneveld 6-4 Andy Hamilton
  • Jason Askew 6-5 Rowby-John Rodriguez
  • Yordi Meeuwisse 6-3 Peter Jacques
  • Lewis Williams 6-3 Adrian Gray
  • Joe Murnan 6-3 Harald Leitinger
  • Stephen Burton 6-4 Vincent van der Meer
  • Conan Whitehead 6-3 Wayne Jones
  • William Borland 6-0 Danny van Trijp
  • Callan Rydz 6-3 Adam Smith-Neale
  • Third Round
  • Luke Humphries 6-5 Kyle Anderson
  • Kim Huybrechts 6-1 Robert Thornton
  • Josh Payne 6-4 Luke Woodhouse
  • Ryan Searle 6-5 Cristo Reyes
  • William O’Connor 6-2 Jan Dekker
  • Vincent van der Voort 6-4 John Michael
  • William Borland 6-5 Mike De Decker
  • Richard North 6-4 Ron Meulenkamp
  • Steve West 6-2 Conan Whitehead
  • Bradley Brooks 6-4 Devon Petersen
  • Martin Atkins 6-5 Wesley Harms
  • Jamie Lewis 6-5 Ross Smith
  • James Wilson 6-4 Ted Evetts
  • Alan Tabern 6-4 Steve Lennon
  • Niels Zonneveld 6-2 Mickey Mansell
  • Justin Pipe 6-3 Kai Fan Leung
  • Ryan Joyce 6-2 Yordi Meeuwisse
  • Lewis Williams 6-4 Jose De Sousa
  • Jamie Hughes 6-2 Nathan Rafferty
  • Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Maik Kuivenhoven
  • Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Darius Labanauskas
  • Rhys Hayden 6-2 Toni Alcinas
  • Matthew Edgar 6-3 Callan Rydz
  • Martin Schindler 6-4 Benito van de Pas
  • Andy Boulton 6-4 Mark McGeeney
  • Jason Lowe 6-3 Jonathan Worsley
  • Scott Waites 6-2 Madars Razma
  • Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Jason Askew
  • Harry Ward 6-3 Steffen Siepmann
  • Joe Murnan 6-3 Karel Sedlacek
  • Simon Stevenson 6-5 Kevin Doets
  • Kyle McKinstry 6-2 Stephen Burton
  • Evening Session
  • Fourth Round
  • Gerwyn Price 10-3 Danny Noppert
  • Peter Wright 10-8 Glen Durrant
  • Michael van Gerwen 10-8 Nathan Aspinall
  • Gary Anderson 10-7 Steve Beaton
  • Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-5 Rhys Hayden
  • William O’Connor 10-8 Dave Chisnall
  • Stephen Bunting 10-9 Vincent van der Voort
  • Chris Dobey 10-9 Krzysztof Ratajski
  • Ian White 10-6 Harry Ward
  • Mensur Suljovic 10-4 Jamie Lewis
  • Gabriel Clemens 10-9 Ryan Joyce
  • Michael Smith 10-4 James Wilson
  • Kim Huybrechts 10-8 Ryan Searle
  • Alan Tabern 10-6 Richard North
  • Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-9 Jermaine Wattimena
  • Simon Whitlock 10-7 Jeffrey de Zwaan
  • Kyle McKinstry 10-8 Bradley Brooks
  • Rob Cross 10-7 Niels Zonneveld
  • Joe Cullen 10-7 Mervyn King
  • Jason Lowe 10-4 Adrian Lewis
  • Jelle Klaasen 10-5 William Borland
  • Ricky Evans 10-4 Joe Murnan
  • Simon Stevenson 10-9 Darren Webster
  • Jonny Clayton 10-7 Scott Waites
  • Andy Boulton 10-8 Luke Humphries
  • Steve West 10-9 Lewis Williams
  • Matthew Edgar 10-5 Josh Payne
  • James Wade 10-5 John Henderson
  • Daryl Gurney 10-9 Keegan Brown
  • Martin Schindler 10-2 Justin Pipe
  • Jamie Hughes 10-9 Brendan Dolan
  • Bye – Martin Atkins
  • Saturday March 7
  • Afternoon Session (1230 GMT start)
  • Fifth Round
  • Main Stage
  • Simon Whitlock v Chris Dobey
  • Jason Lowe v Michael van Gerwen
  • Peter Wright v Ian White
  • Rob Cross v Michael Smith
  • Stage Two
  • William O’Connor v Daryl Gurney
  • Gerwyn Price v Ricky Evans
  • James Wade v Kim Huybrechts
  • Gary Anderson v Simon Stevenson
  • Stage Three
  • Jonny Clayton v Joe Cullen
  • Dirk van Duijvenbode v Mensur Suljovic
  • Stephen Bunting v Alan Tabern
  • Matthew Edgar v Dimitri Van den Bergh
  • Stage Four
  • Martin Atkins v Jamie Hughes
  • Jelle Klaasen v Steve West
  • Kyle McKinstry v Martin Schindler
  • Andy Boulton v Gabriel Clemens
  • Evening Session (1900 GMT start)
  • Sixth Round
  • Main Stage & Stage Two
  • Sunday March 8
  • Afternoon Session (1245 GMT start)
  • Quarter-Finals
  • Main Stage
  • Evening Session (1900 GMT start)
  • Semi-Finals & Final
  • Main Stage

ENDS

Ladbrokes UK Open – Preview and Schedule.

The 2020 Ladbrokes UK Open begins on Friday at Butlin’s Minehead Resort, with Nathan Aspinall looking to defend the title he sensationally won 12 months ago.

2019 UK Open (PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG) NATHAN ASPINALL WINS

The unique tournament, played across eight boards simultaneously in the early rounds, will see 160 players competing in the ‘festival of darts’ from March 6-8.

The first round will feature Tour Card Holders 97-127 along with the eight Challenge Tour Qualifiers, nine Development Tour Qualifiers and 16 Rileys Qualifiers.

The opening three rounds will take place in the afternoon session on Friday March 6, with the top 32 entering at the fourth round stage in the evening session.

Friday’s play begins at 1100 GMT on Stages Two to Eight, while the Main Stage action begins at 1200 GMT as Lisa Ashton opens the tournament against Belgium’s Mike De Decker.

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG LISA ASHTON IN ACTION

“I think I might be a bit nervous playing in a new venue but I am really looking forward to it,” said Ashton, who became the first woman to win a PDC Tour Card in January, guaranteeing a UK Open spot.

“When I won my Tour Card I hadn’t even thought about being in the UK Open, it took a while to sink in.

“I am enjoying life on the tour, I’m learning all the time because it’s completely different to what I’m used to but everyone has been very welcoming.

“My standard is improving all the time and hopefully this weekend I can show that.

“The last time I was on a PDC stage was at the World Championship two years ago and I loved every minute of that, so it will be great to get back up there in front of the amazing atmosphere.

“Women’s darts is in a great place right now, there’s a lot of interest around us. The support I’ve had has been really overwhelming.”

Ashton will be joined in the first round by Fallon Sherrock, who shot to global fame in December by becoming the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Championship.

Sherrock made history once again in February by becoming the first woman to win a Rileys Qualifier for the UK Open, coming through a field of over 200 players in Wolverhampton.

Her return to PDC action will see her face Northern Ireland’s Kyle McKinstry on the Main Stage in another first round tie.

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG : FALLON SHERROCK IN ACTION

“It’s really exciting,” said Sherrock. “It was a hard day in Wolverhampton just to qualify so now I’m there I want to enjoy it because I’ve watched it on TV before and it’s a great event.
 
“It’s going to be another huge experience for me because the UK Open is such a different tournament to the World Championship and the Premier League.
 
“I’m used to events where you play a few games in a day so I’ll just focus on each game as it comes and not look too far ahead, and my focus is on preparing to play Kyle.
 
“I know Kyle from the tour and we’ve been at a lot of events together in the past and he’s a good scorer and a very good player.”

Another pick of the first round ties will see Brisbane Darts Masters winner Damon Heta of Australia take on two-time BDO champion Scott Waites in the battle of new Tour Card Holders.

Stage Two’s matches from the first round include former UK Open runner-up Andy Hamilton against Patrick Lynskey as well as New Zealand’s Cody Harris, Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung and Czech debutant Karel Sedlacek bringing an international flavour to the event.

The Silencer has started 2020 very impressively. Can he keep it up at the UK Open?

The first round winners will be joined by Tour Card Holders 65-96 in round two, as former BDO number one Mark McGeeney faces Scott Baker and Canadian ace Jeff Smith plays Greece’s John Michael in the Main Stage games.

Friday’s opening session will also see round three take place, featuring the winners from round two along with Tour Card Holders 33-64, as World Youth Champion Luke Humphries faces Australian number two Kyle Anderson in a tasty tie on the Main Stage.

The third round will also see 2012 UK Open champion Robert Thornton face Kim Huybrechts on the Main Stage, while Ireland’s World Cup finalist William O’Connor plays Jan Dekker on Stage Two.

At the conclusion of the third round, an open draw will be made live on the Main Stage for round four.

The world’s top 32 come into the event in Friday evening’s fourth round, including defending champion Aspinall, world number one Michael van Gerwen and former UK Open champions Peter Wright, Gary Anderson Adrian Lewis and James Wade.

The Adonis maintains his record of playing every UK Open since 2003.

Wade is joined by Steve Beaton and Wayne Jones as the only three players to have played in every staging of the UK Open since its inception in 2003.

Aspinall embarked on a fairytale run to the title last year, defeating Rob Cross in the final to claim his first PDC televised title.

The 28-year-old has since gone on to establish himself amongst the world’s elite, earning a Premier League place having won the US Darts Masters and reached the semi-finals of the World Championship for a second successive year.

“Winning the UK Open last year is something that will stay with me forever,” said Aspinall.

“The feeling when the match-winning 170 went in is a magical moment that I get goosebumps just thinking about.

“Winning that title was the start of establishing myself among the world’s elite.

“It gave me the belief that I could beat anyone and win anything, and that confidence has made me the player I am today.

“But I’m always looking forward, rather than back, and I’m targeting a good run this weekend.”

The action continues on Saturday March 7 with the fifth and sixth rounds across two sessions, before Sunday’s closing stages are played out on the Main Stage.

The draw for the fifth and sixth rounds will be conducted on the Main Stage at the conclusion of the fourth round, once again with the UK Open’s unique open draw format in place.

Players will compete for a £100,000 top prize, with a total prize fund of £450,000 on offer being paid down to the last 96.

Action from the Main Stage will be broadcast live on ITV4 in the UK, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.

Play on Stage Two on Friday and Saturday will be broadcast live on PDCTV for all PDCTV Subscribers worldwide.

2020 Ladbrokes UK Open
Friday March 6
Afternoon Session (1100 GMT Start, 1200 GMT on Main Stage)
First, Second & Third Rounds 
Main Stage
Mike De Decker v Lisa Ashton (R1)
Damon Heta v Scott Waites (R1)
Kyle McKinstry v Fallon Sherrock (R1)
Scott Baker v Mark McGeeney (R2)
Jeff Smith v John Michael (R2)
David Pallett v Doets/Thompson (R2)
Heaver/Noguera v McKinstry/Sherrock (R2)
Luke Humphries v Kyle Anderson (R3)
Kim Huybrechts v Robert Thornton (R3)
Josh Payne v Luke Woodhouse (R3)

Stage Two
Cody Harris v Scott Taylor (R1)
Kai Fan Leung v Kelvin Self (R1)
Adam Hunt v Karel Sedlacek (R1)
Keane Barry v Alan Tabern (R1)
Andy Hamilton v Patrick Lynskey (R1)
Marko Kantele v Dirk van Duijvenbode (R2)
Heta/Waites v Geert Nentjes (R2)
Larsson/Meikle v De Decker/Ashton (R2)
Menzies/Brooks v Nick Kenny (R2)
Ryan Searle v Cristo Reyes (R3)
William O’Connor v Jan Dekker (R3)
Vincent van der Voort v Smith/Michael (R3)
Koltsov/Van Trijp/Davidson/Borland v Larsson/Meikle/De Decker/Ashton (R3)

Stage Three
Steffen Siepmann v Krzysztof Kciuk (R1)
Peter Jacques v Ciaran Teehan (R1)
Michael Barnard v Steve Brown (R1)
Daniel Larsson v Ryan Meikle (R1)
Harry Ward v Gavin Carlin (R2)
Kirk Shepherd v Leung/Self (R2)
Hunt/Sedlacek v Barrie Bates (R2)
Hayden/J Clark v Richardson/Penhall (R2)
Ron Meulenkamp v Richard North (R3)
Jones/Blades/Whitehead v Steve West (R3)
Devon Petersen v Menzies/Brooks/Kenny (R3)
Justin Smith/Jenkins/Beeney/Harms v Atkins/Murray/Bunse (R3)
Huckvale/Burton/Van der Meer v Heaver/Noguera/McKinstry/Sherrock (R3)

Stage Four
Jason Askew v Greg Ritchie (R1)
Jason Heaver v Jesus Noguera (R1)
Adam Smith-Neale v Ben Cheeseman (R1)
Darren Beveridge v Nathan Rafferty (R1)
Andy Boulton v Reece Robinson (R2)
Nathan Derry v Maik Kuivenhoven (R2)
Justin Smith/Jenkins v Beeney/Harms (R2)
Telnekes/Kleermaker v Madars Razma (R2)
Jamie Lewis v Ross Smith (R3)
Evetts/Van Peer/Roelofs v James Wilson (R3)
Steve Lennon v Barnard/Brown/Barry/Tabern (R3)
Mickey Mansell v Zonneveld/Hamilton/Lynskey (R3)

Stage Five
Adam Huckvale v Stephen Burton (R1)
Rhys Hayden v James Clark (R1)
Cameron Menzies v Bradley Brooks (R1)
Kevin Burness v Harald Leitinger (R1)
Jonathan Worsley v Matt Clark (R2)
Carl Wilkinson v Siepmann/Kciuk (R2)
Ted Evetts v Van Peer/Roelofs (R2)
Barnard/Brown v Barry/Tabern (R2)
Justin Pipe v Shepherd/Leung/Self (R3)
Ryan Joyce v Jacques/Teehan/Meeuwisse (R3)
Jose De Sousa v Williams/Owen/Gray (R3)
Van Duivenbode/Beveridge/Rafferty v Jamie Hughes (R3)

Stage Six
Aaron Beeney v Wesley Harms (R1)
Boris Koltsov v Danny van Trijp (R1)
Andrew Davidson v William Borland (R1)
Lewis Williams v Robert Owen (R1)
Harris/Taylor v Jason Lowe (R2)
Atkins/Murray v Christian Bunse (R2)
Mike van Duivenbode v Beveridge/Rafferty (R2)
Niels Zonneveld v Hamilton/Lynskey (R2)
Derry/Kuivenhoven v Gabriel Clemens (R3)
Darius Labanauskas v Kantele/Van Duijvenbode (R3)
Hayden/J Clark/Richardson/Penhall v Toni Alcinas (R3)
Matthew Edgar v Smith-Neale/Cheeseman/McGuirk/Rydz (R3)

Stage Seven
Martin Atkins v Ryan Murray (R1)
Shane McGuirk v Callan Rydz (R1)
Wayne Jones v Gary Blades (R1)
Berry van Peer v Owen Roelofs (R1)
Rowby-John Rodriguez v Askew/Ritchie (R2)
Jacques/Teehan v Yordi Meeuwisse (R2)
Williams/Owen v Adrian Gray (R2)
Burness/Leitinger v Joe Murnan (R2)
Martin Schindler v Benito van de Pas (R3)
Baker/McGeeney v Boulton/Robinson (R3)
Worsley/M Clark v Harris/Taylor/Lowe (R3)
Telnekes/Kleermaker/Razma v Heta/Waites/Nentjes (R3)

Stage Eight
Justin Smith v Andy Jenkins (R1)
Derk Telnekes v Martijn Kleermaker (R1)
James Richardson v Darren Penhall (R1)
Kevin Doets v Alfie Thompson (R1)
Huckvale/Burton v Vincent van der Meer (R2)
Jones/Blades v Conan Whitehead (R2)
Koltsov/Van Trijp v Davidson/Borland (R2)
Smith-Neale/Cheeseman v McGuirk/Rydz (R2)
Jelle Klaasen v Rodriguez/Askew/Ritchie (R3)
Ward/Carlin v Wilkinson/Siepmann/Kciuk (R3)
Pallett/Doets/Thompson v Simon Stevenson (R3)
Hunt/Sedlacek/Bates v Burness/Leitinger/Murnan (R3)

Schedule of Play
Friday March 6
Afternoon Session (1100 GMT start – 1200 GMT start on Main Stage)
First, Second & Third Rounds
Main Stage, Stage Two & Stages Three-Eight

Evening Session (1900 GMT start)
Fourth Round
Main Stage, Stage Two & Stages Three-Eight

Saturday March 7 
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT start)
Fifth Round
Main Stage, Stage Two & Stages Three-Four

Evening Session (1900 GMT start)
Sixth Round
Main Stage & Stage Two

Sunday March 8
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT start)
Quarter-Finals
Main Stage

Evening Session (1900 GMT start)
Semi-Finals & Final
Main Stage

Format
First, Second & Third Rounds – Best of 11 legs
Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Rounds & Quarter-Finals – Best of 19 legs
Semi-Finals & Final – Best of 21 legs

Prize Fund
Winner – £100,000
Runner-Up – £40,000
Semi-Finalists – £20,000
Quarter-Finalists – £12,500
Sixth Round Losers – £7,500
Fifth Round Losers – £4,000
Fourth Round Losers – £2,000
Third Round Losers – £1,000
Total – £450,000

​ENDS

Premier League Bonanza – MVG Tops Table After Night Four.

Michael Smith celebrated his first televised nine-dart finish in the in Dublin on Thursday, as Michael van Gerwen moved back to the top of the Unibet Premier League table.

MVG and Willie O Connor.
Pic:PDC

Smith followed two 180s with a sublime 141 checkout to bring 9,000 fans to their feet at a sell-out 3Arena, hitting the Premier League’s first perfect leg for almost three years.

The moment of magic came in the fourth leg of a tight contest as he levelled, with Gurney then leading 5-4 before seeing Smith claim the game’s final three legs to take victory.

“It’s a feeling you can’t explain – it’s amazing,” said Smith. “I’ve never hit a nine-darter on TV before and this was special. I’ve never felt my heart beat so fast in my life!

“It’s something on my list that I’ve ticked off now and I’m over the moon, but even more pleased to get the win too. I could have played better but I’m chuffed to get the win.”

Smith has now put himself in pole position in the race to claim a £50,000 bonus from sponsors Unibet should a player achieve two nine-darters during the 2020 season, with his perfect leg being the first in the event since Adrian Lewis in April 2017.

Smith is one of five players sat on five points in a congested league table, one behind reigning champion Van Gerwen and Nathan Aspinall, who both enjoyed wins in Dublin.

Van Gerwen denied Challenger William O’Connor a victory in front of his home fans with a 7-4 success to return to the top of the league table on leg difference ahead of Aspinall.

Limerick’s O’Connor – who enjoyed a spine-tingling walk-on – pulled back from 3-1 down to level after six legs, only for Van Gerwen to pull clear in the final stages.

“It was a phenomenal atmosphere tonight and I think for William it was like my first time playing in Rotterdam,” said Van Gerwen.

“I’ve had a lot of good games against him in the past and he played okay tonight. It was tough for me and I had to fight for this win so I’m happy.

“There’s more in the tank but I feel good and it’s nice to be back on top of the table.”

O’Connor was the fourth of the nine Challengers to take to the Premier League stage, and the World Cup finalist admitted it was an unforgettable experience.

‘The Magpie’ Wille O’ Connor enjoyed his ‘Challenger’ appearance.

“Regardless of the result, it’s the best night of my life,” said O’Connor. “I’ve a lot to learn from tonight and it will definitely hold me in good stead for the future.

“I’ve had a fantastic night. It’s a pity the result went the way it did but I played the world number one in my home country. It was everything that I could have wished for.”

Aspinall jumped above Glen Durrant in the table with a 7-5 win from their contest to open Night Four in Dublin in front of a sell-out 9,000 crowd.

Durrant took out 144 on the way to a 3-1 advantage, and also led 4-3 before Aspinall finished 85 and a key 129 to move himself ahead for the first time.

Aspinall moved up the table after his victory over Durrant.

Durrant punished three missed doubles from the UK Open champion to level in leg ten, but double seven secured Aspinall a minimum of a point before he followed a 177 with an 88 checkout to seal a third win of the season.

“I’m a happy guy,” said Aspinall. “The start wasn’t good but Glen let me off with some missed doubles. The 129 was a massive shot and I knew it, and in patches I played well.

“I’ve never played well against Glen but I had a bit of luck tonight at crucial times and I got the job done. I’m in a good position at the moment and I want to build on this.”

Aspinall added: “The crowd were phenomenal tonight and it was an absolutely brilliant atmosphere.”

Gerwyn Price moved into third place in the table with a ruthless 7-1 demolition of World Champion Peter Wright, who shared the opening two legs before seeing the Welsh ace reel off six in a row, including a ten-darter.

“It’s a very good win for me,” said Price. “I’ve had three draws so it’s nice to get the win and get my campaign underway, and I feel like I’m in the tournament now.

“I was a bit edgy and I wasn’t at my best, but I’ll take a 7-1 win over Peter any day of the week. Peter wasn’t scoring well and he didn’t perform tonight, but he will come back from this.”

Anderon moves ahead of Cross after defeating him in Dubin.

Gary Anderson picked up his second victory of the season by seeing off Rob Cross 7-5 in their Dublin contest, jumping above the 2019 Premier League finalist in the process.

Anderson took out finishes of 109 and 106 as he shared the opening eight legs before taking out 85 to move ahead, while a 14-darter secured at least a draw.

Cross took out a superb 128 bull finish to hit back, but was unable to check out 124 in the decider as Anderson returned to land double ten for the triumph.

“Some of it was pretty and some of it was awful, but it’s nice to scrape a win there. I’m still making mistakes but there’s times that the throw is working and it will come good.

“It’s going well on the practice board and I want to take it up on stage. My darts are getting a bit better week by week – tonight wasn’t quite as good but that was down to the person throwing them!”

The Unibet Premier League season continues on Thursday March 5 with Night Five at Westpoint Exeter, where Van Gerwen will meet Smith and Anderson plays Challenger Luke Humphries, the reigning World Youth Champion.

Unibet Premier League Night Four

Thursday February 27

3Arena, Dublin

  • Glen Durrant 5-7 Nathan Aspinall
  • Rob Cross 5-7 Gary Anderson
  • Daryl Gurney 5-7 Michael Smith – Michael Smith hits nine-dart finish
  • William O’Connor 4-7 Michael van Gerwen
  • Gerwyn Price 7-1 Peter Wright

UK Open – Draw, Schedule and Details.

The draw has been made for the first three rounds of the 2020 Ladbrokes UK Open, with the schedule of play also confirmed for the festival of darts which begins on Friday March 6 at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort.

NATHAN ASPINALL IN ACTION
PIC: PDC / L Lustig

The unique multi-board tournament will see 160 players in action live from March 6-8, with the first round featuring Tour Card Holders 97-127 along with the eight Challenge Tour Qualifiers, nine Development Tour Qualifiers and 16 Rileys Qualifiers.

The opening three rounds will take place in the afternoon session on Friday March 6, with the top 32 entering at the fourth round stage in the evening session.

Friday’s play begins at 1100 GMT on Stages Two-Eight, while the Main Stage action begins at 1200 GMT as Lisa Ashton opens the tournament against Belgium’s Mike De Decker.

History-maker Fallon Sherrock returns to PDC action against Kyle McKinstry in another first round game on the Main Stage, after Australia’s Brisbane Darts Masters winner Damon Heta takes on two-time BDO champion Scott Waites.

Karel Sedlacek will be seen on Stage II.

Stage Two’s matches from the first round include former UK Open runner-up Andy Hamilton against Patrick Lynskey as well as New Zealand’s Cody Harris, Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung and Czech debutant Karel Sedlacek – with the Stage Two action to be streamed in PDCTV on Friday and Saturday.

The first round winners will be joined by Tour Card Holders 65-96 in round two, as former BDO number one Mark McGeeney faces Scott Baker and Canadian ace Jeff Smith plays Greece’s John Michael in the Main Stage Games.

Friday’s opening session will also see round three take place, featuring the winners from round two along with Tour Card Holders 33-64 as World Youth Champion Luke Humphries faces Australian number two Kyle Anderson in a tasty tie on the Main Stage.

Betway Premier League - Night Eight Round-Up
The Thorn will enter in the 32.

Round three will also see 2012 winner Robert Thornton face Kim Huybrechts on the Main Stage, while Ireland’s World Cup finalist William O’Connor plays Jan Dekker on Stage Two.

The world’s top 32 come into the event in Friday evening’s fourth round, including defending champion Nathan Aspinall, world number one Michael van Gerwen and former UK Open champions Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, James Wade and Adrian Lewis.

The action continues on Saturday March 7 with the fifth and sixth rounds in one bumper session, before Sunday’s closing stages are played out on the Main Stage.

At the conclusion of the third round, an open draw will be made live on the Main Stage for round four. The draw for the fifth and sixth rounds will be conducted on the Main Stage at the conclusion of the fourth round, while the UK Open’s unique open draw format will remain in place.

Players will compete for a £100,000 top prize, with a total prize fund of £450,000 on offer being paid down to the last 96.

The Stage Two action on Friday and Saturday will be streamed exclusively for all PDCTV Subscribers worldwide at video.pdc.tv.

The 2020 Ladbrokes UK Open will be broadcast live on ITV4 for UK viewers, through the PDC’s international broadcast partners and through PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.

2020 Ladbrokes UK Open

Friday March 6

Afternoon Session (1100 GMT Start, 1200 GMT on Main Stage)

First, Second & Third Rounds

Main Stage

Mike De Decker v Lisa Ashton (R1)

Damon Heta v Scott Waites (R1)

Kyle McKinstry v Fallon Sherrock (R1)

Scott Baker v Mark McGeeney (R2)

Jeff Smith v John Michael (R2)

David Pallett v Doets/Thompson (R2)

Heaver/Noguera v McKinstry/Sherrock (R2)

Luke Humphries v Kyle Anderson (R3)

Kim Huybrechts v Robert Thornton (R3)

Josh Payne v Luke Woodhouse (R3)

Stage Two

Cody Harris v Scott Taylor (R1)

Kai Fan Leung v Kelvin Self (R1)

Adam Hunt v Karel Sedlacek (R1)

Keane Barry v Alan Tabern (R1)

Andy Hamilton v Patrick Lynskey (R1)

Marko Kantele v Dirk van Duijvenbode (R2)

Heta/Waites v Geert Nentjes (R2)

Larsson/Meikle v De Decker/Ashton (R2)

Menzies/Brooks v Nick Kenny (R2)

Ryan Searle v Cristo Reyes (R3)

William O’Connor v Jan Dekker (R3)

Vincent van der Voort v Smith/Michael (R3)

Koltsov/Van Trijp/Davidson/Borland v Larsson/Meikle/De Decker/Ashton (R3)

Stage Three

Steffen Siepmann v Krzysztof Kciuk (R1)

Peter Jacques v Ciaran Teehan (R1)

Michael Barnard v Steve Brown (R1)

Daniel Larsson v Ryan Meikle (R1)

Harry Ward v Gavin Carlin (R2)

Kirk Shepherd v Leung/Self (R2)

Hunt/Sedlacek v Barrie Bates (R2)

Hayden/J Clark v Richardson/Penhall (R2)

Ron Meulenkamp v Richard North (R3)

Jones/Blades/Whitehead v Steve West (R3)

Devon Petersen v Menzies/Brooks/Kenny (R3)

Justin Smith/Jenkins/Beeney/Harms v Atkins/Murray/Bunse (R3)

Huckvale/Burton/Van der Meer v Heaver/Noguera/McKinstry/Sherrock (R3)

Stage Four

Jason Askew v Greg Ritchie (R1)

Jason Heaver v Jesus Noguera (R1)

Adam Smith-Neale v Ben Cheeseman (R1)

Darren Beveridge v Nathan Rafferty (R1)

Andy Boulton v Reece Robinson (R2)

Nathan Derry v Maik Kuivenhoven (R2)

Justin Smith/Jenkins v Beeney/Harms (R2)

Telnekes/Kleermaker v Madars Razma (R2)

Jamie Lewis v Ross Smith (R3)

Evetts/Van Peer/Roelofs v James Wilson (R3)

Steve Lennon v Barnard/Brown/Barry/Tabern (R3)

Mickey Mansell v Zonneveld/Hamilton/Lynskey (R3)

Stage Five

Adam Huckvale v Stephen Burton (R1)

Rhys Hayden v James Clark (R1)

Cameron Menzies v Bradley Brooks (R1)

Kevin Burness v Harald Leitinger (R1)

Jonathan Worsley v Matt Clark (R2)

Carl Wilkinson v Siepmann/Kciuk (R2)

Ted Evetts v Van Peer/Roelofs (R2)

Barnard/Brown v Barry/Tabern (R2)

Justin Pipe v Shepherd/Leung/Self (R3)

Ryan Joyce v Jacques/Teehan/Meeuwisse (R3)

Jose De Sousa v Williams/Owen/Gray (R3)

Van Duivenbode/Beveridge/Rafferty v Jamie Hughes (R3)

Stage Six

Aaron Beeney v Wesley Harms (R1)

Boris Koltsov v Danny van Trijp (R1)

Andrew Davidson v William Borland (R1)

Lewis Williams v Robert Owen (R1)

Harris/Taylor v Jason Lowe (R2)

Atkins/Murray v Christian Bunse (R2)

Mike van Duivenbode v Beveridge/Rafferty (R2)

Niels Zonneveld v Hamilton/Lynskey (R2)

Derry/Kuivenhoven v Gabriel Clemens (R3)

Darius Labanauskas v Kantele/Van Duijvenbode (R3)

Hayden/J Clark/Richardson/Penhall v Toni Alcinas (R3)

Matthew Edgar v Smith-Neale/Cheeseman/McGuirk/Rydz (R3)

Stage Seven

Martin Atkins v Ryan Murray (R1)

Shane McGuirk v Callan Rydz (R1)

Wayne Jones v Gary Blades (R1)

Berry van Peer v Owen Roelofs (R1)

Rowby-John Rodriguez v Askew/Ritchie (R2)

Jacques/Teehan v Yordi Meeuwisse (R2)

Williams/Owen v Adrian Gray (R2)

Burness/Leitinger v Joe Murnan (R2)

Martin Schindler v Benito van de Pas (R3)

Baker/McGeeney v Boulton/Robinson (R3)

Worsley/M Clark v Harris/Taylor/Lowe (R3)

Telnekes/Kleermaker/Razma v Heta/Waites/Nentjes (R3)

Stage Eight

Justin Smith v Andy Jenkins (R1)

Derk Telnekes v Martijn Kleermaker (R1)

James Richardson v Darren Penhall (R1)

Kevin Doets v Alfie Thompson (R1)

Huckvale/Burton v Vincent van der Meer (R2)

Jones/Blades v Conan Whitehead (R2)

Koltsov/Van Trijp v Davidson/Borland (R2)

Smith-Neale/Cheeseman v McGuirk/Rydz (R2)

Jelle Klaasen v Rodriguez/Askew/Ritchie (R3)

Ward/Carlin v Wilkinson/Siepmann/Kciuk (R3)

Pallett/Doets/Thompson v Simon Stevenson (R3)

Hunt/Sedlacek/Bates v Burness/Leitinger/Murnan (R3)

Session Schedule

Friday March 6

Afternoon Session (1100 GMT start – 1200 GMT start on Main Stage)

First, Second & Third Rounds

Main Stage, Stage Two & Stages Three-Eight

Evening Session (1900 GMT start)

Fourth Round

Main Stage, Stage Two & Stages Three-Eight

Saturday March 7 (1530 GMT start)

Fifth Round

Main Stage, Stage Two & Stages Three-Four

Sixth Round

Main Stage & Stage Two

Sunday March 8

Afternoon Session (1245 GMT start)

Quarter-Finals

Main Stage

Evening Session (1900 GMT start)

Semi-Finals & Final

Main Stage

Format

First, Second & Third Rounds – Best of 11 legs

Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Rounds & Quarter-Finals – Best of 19 legs

Semi-Finals & Final – Best of 21 legs

Prize Fund

Winner – £100,000

Runner-Up – £40,000

Semi-Finalists – £20,000

Quarter-Finalists – £12,500

Sixth Round Losers – £7,500

Fifth Round Losers – £4,000

Fourth Round Losers – £2,000

Third Round Losers – £1,000

Total – £450,000

ENDS

The Asp Bites Back! Aspinall Defeats MVG As Durrant Top Table – Premier League 2020.

Nathan Aspinall inflicted a first Unibet Premier League defeat of 2020 on Michael van Gerwen on Night Three in Cardiff, while Gerwyn Price was held to a 6-6 draw by Daryl Gurney in the Welsh capital.

PIC;LAWRENCE MICHAEL VAN GERWEN IN ACTION

Having been at his imperious best in the opening two nights of action, five-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen was halted in his tracks by Aspinall who won 7-5 in front of a sell-out crowd at Motorpoint Arena.

Following a mixed start to his maiden campaign with a win and a loss in his opening two matches, Aspinall got off to a great start against the world number one as he pinned a 110 checkout on his way to a 4-2 lead.

Van Gerwen hit back with three successive legs to hit the front, only for Aspinall to stop the rot with a last dart double 18.

The 11th leg saw Van Gerwen hit some uncharacteristically low scores, and Aspinall took full advantage, hitting double top in each of the last two legs to rack up his third win in six attempts against the Dutchman.

“I feel like I’ve arrived in the Premier League now, it doesn’t get much better than beating the best player in the world on the Premier League stage,” a delighted Aspinall explained.

“I haven’t been at all happy with how I played in the first two weeks, which makes it an even better feeling to play well tonight.

“It was important for me to prove to everyone and myself that I can play well in the Premier League.

“I enjoyed every minute of it up there tonight and I think that’s when I’m at my best. The crowd were fantastic.

“I was disappointed with how I played against Michael at the World Championship so it was nice to get one back over him.”

UNIBET PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS 2020 MOTORPOINT ARENA, CARDIFF, PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG GERWYN PRICE V DARYL GURNEY DARYL GURNEYIN ACTION

Welsh number one Price was unable to deliver a win for his army of fans as he drew for the third consecutive week, this time against Gurney, who picked up his first point of the campaign.

A tight affair, in which both players missed a number of darts at double, saw the opening eight legs all go with throw before Price struck the first break to go 5-4 ahead.

Undeterred, Gurney won back-to-back legs to secure the draw, but Price held firm in the last leg to maintain his unbeaten start to the season.

“The crowd tonight were fantastic, I wish I could’ve won for them but it wasn’t to be,” said Price.

“Fair play to Daryl for hitting his doubles under pressure, he deserved something from the match.

“I’m not happy but I’ve picked up a point so it’s not all bad.

“Everyone is playing well against me lately but it’s time to start converting draws into wins.”

Price’s World Cup teammate Jonny Clayton suffered a baptism of fire on his Premier League debut, as Michael Smith produced the performance of the night to claim a 7-1 victory, ending his ten-match winless run in the Premier League.

Welsh number two Clayton, the highest-ranked of this year’s nine Challengers, took the opening leg but had no answer to a Smith onslaught, which saw the former Premier League runner-up average 105.51.

A 167 finish from Smith put daylight between the pair at 4-1 and three legs later he wrapped up victory with a 142 finish to taste victory in the Premier League for the first time since March.

“I’m over the moon to get my first win of the season, I can’t believe it’s been ten games since I last won in the Premier League,” said Smith.

“Jonny gave me a couple of legs at the start and the 167 really did change things.

“Once I got a lead I was telling myself not to make the same mistake as last week; I was really angry with myself that I threw that one away.”

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG : GLEN DURRANT IN ACTION

Glen Durrant is the early leader in the standings after he made it two wins from three with an eye-catching 7-4 defeat of Gary Anderson.

Having salvaged a point against Fallon Sherrock on Night Two, Durrant was at his clinical best as he landed finishes of 107, 89 and 85 on his way to a 5-1 lead.

Two-time Premier League champion Anderson hit back with checkouts of 122 and 64, but Durrant maintained control of the contest to move to the table summit.

“I’m in a great place right now, I never thought I would be top of the Premier League at any point of my career,” Durrant admitted.

“To beat one of the all-time greats in Gary in front of this amazing crowd is an unbelievable feeling.

“I can’t say I enjoyed the Fallon game last week but tonight absolutely made up for it.

“I wish I was bullish and say ‘I’m going to finish in the top four’ but that’s not the person I am.

“I still just want to avoid being eliminated so that will be my focus until I achieve that goal.”

World Champion Peter Wright eventually found his way to a first victory of the campaign with a 7-5 defeat of Rob Cross, though Wright averaged over 20 points more than his opponent for much of the contest.

With Cross struggling to find his range on the trebles, Wright took advantage to race into a 3-0 lead thanks to a trio of 13-dart legs.

Former World Champion Cross fought back and took the match all the way to a 12th leg, but after the former World Champion failed to take out 126, Wright found a last dart double five to condemn Cross to his first loss of the season.

“I made it hard work for myself, and Rob is never going to give you a game,” said Wright.

“Rob is a fantastic player so I’m happy to get the win against him.

“I’m finding it hard work up there, I’m putting pressure on myself and I need to relax a little bit more.”

The 2020 Unibet Premier League continues with Night Four in Dublin on Thursday February 27 as Republic of Ireland’s World Cup runner-up William O’Connor stars as a Challenger against Van Gerwen, while table-topper Durrant meets Aspinall in the battle of the newcomers.

2020 Unibet Premier League Night Three
Thursday February 20
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Peter Wright 7-5 Rob Cross
Michael Smith 7-1 Jonny Clayton
Nathan Aspinall 7-5 Michael van Gerwen
Daryl Gurney 6-6 Gerwyn Price
Glen Durrant 7-4 Gary Anderson

Night Four
Thursday February 27
3Arena, Dublin
Glen Durrant v Nathan Aspinall
Rob Cross v Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney v Michael Smith
William O’Connor v Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright
Tickets: SOLD OUT

League Table after Night Three

PWDL+/-LWATPts
Glen Durrant3210+775
Michael van Gerwen3201+664
Nathan Aspinall3201+484
Michael Smith3111+233
Rob Cross3111063
Gerwyn Price3030063
Peter Wright3111053
Gary Anderson3111-153
Daryl Gurney3012-831

ENDS

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Premier League 2020 (3): Preview.

Welsh number one Gerwyn Price will make his homecoming in front of a sell-out crowd at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena on Thursday as Challenger Jonny Clayton also takes to the stage on Night Three of the 2020 Unibet Premier League.

The Iceman Returns Home to Cardiff for night three of the Unibet 2020.
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG : GERWYN PRICE IN ACTION

Making his first appearance in Wales since being crowned back-to-back Grand Slam of Darts champion, world number three Price will be hoping to kick-start his Premier League campaign on home soil.

While Gurney is the only player without a point after the opening two nights of action, world number three Price will also be seeking a first victory of the campaign in the Welsh capital, having played out two draws so far.

“Of course, Cardiff is the first date I looked for when the Premier League fixtures came out,” said Price, who hit a roof-raising 170 checkout in an 8-5 victory over Michael Smith in Cardiff last year.

“I love playing in front of a Welsh crowd, there’s nowhere better for me to play.

“It makes a nice change having the crowd on my side and I hope to thrive in that atmosphere as I did last year.

“It was an amazing feeling hitting a 170 finish and winning in front of my home crowd last year. I would love to experience that feeling again.

“I’ve made an okay start to the Premier League this year. I felt like I threw away a win on Night One, but on Night Two I probably pinched a point.

“Last year I probably drew too many games so this year I need to make sure I turn a few draws into wins and hopefully I will be in the top four mix come the end of the campaign.”

Clayton gets a ‘Challenge’ shot in Cardiff.
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG: JONNY CLAYTON IN ACTION.

Price’s World Cup of Darts partner and Welsh number two Clayton will make his Premier League debut as the third of nine Challengers to star in this year’s tournament.

The runner-up in the 2017 Players Championship Finals, Clayton has resided in the world’s top 16 for the past 12 months and his trio of ranking titles includes the 2018 Austrian Darts Open.

He now has the chance to make history as the first Challenger to win a Premier League match as he takes on former finalist Michael Smith.

“It will be a real honour to be part of the biggest night of the year for Welsh darts,” said Clayton, who defeated Michael van Gerwen in The Masters last month.

“Ever since I found out I was playing in the Premier League in Cardiff it’s given me an extra focus in practice.

“I know I’ve got the game, I’ve shown it a few times on TV, so I know that if I turn up with my best game I can become the first Challenger to win.

“My problem is consistency, but I feel like I’m still improving and heading in the right direction.

“I just can’t wait to get out there now and hopefully play my part in what will be a memorable night for Wales.”

Off to a perfect start and performing better and better.
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG MICHAEL VAN GERWEN

Five-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen will look to continue his impeccable start to the campaign against newcomer Nathan Aspinall.

World number one Van Gerwen has posted averages over 100 in each of his first two matches, resulting in a 7-5 win over Peter Wright and a 7-1 demolition of Gurney.

The Dutchman will continue his bid for a fifth successive title against Aspinall, who suffered his first Premier League loss to Rob Cross on Night Two.

“I had to work really hard in the last few weeks to progress myself and to do better but I can’t really complain,” said Van Gerwen.

“I know there’s still more in the tank and some bits and pieces I can improve, and that only gives me more motivation. 

“I’m back where I belong, top of the table, where I’ve been in the last few years and I want to stay there. In the Premier League it’s not about luck, it’s about consistency.

“I always want to aim for perfection. Of course that’s something insane sometimes but you need to make sure you do anything in your possibility so you don’t make any mistakes, and I think I’m doing quite well.

“I don’t have to prove anything because I know what I’m capable of.  When I play my game, they don’t have a chance – simple.

“People shouldn’t doubt me – I know where I my strengths are and my weaknesses and I’m a complete player. When something doesn’t go my way I know what I have to do to make sure it goes my way again.”

Night Three will also see World Champion Wright seek his first win of the campaign against 2019 runner-up Cross, while Glen Durrant looks to maintain an unbeaten start to his debut year against two-time Premier League winner Gary Anderson.

The first nine nights of Premier League action will see a different Challenger in action, culminating in Judgement Night in Rotterdam on March 26 where the ninth-placed player will be eliminated.

Following Judgement Night, the remaining eight players meet once more in the remaining seven league nights in Belfast, Sheffield, Manchester, Berlin, Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds.

The top four players then progress to face off for the title, and £250,000 top prize, in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 21.

Night Three will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.

2020 Unibet Premier League
Night Three
Thursday February 20
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Peter Wright v Rob Cross
Jonny Clayton v Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall
Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price
Glen Durrant v Gary Anderson

Prize Fund
Winner £250,000
Runner-up £120,000
Semi-finalists £80,000
Fifth place£70,000
Sixth place £60,000
Seventh place £55,000
Eighth place £50,000
Ninth place £35,000
League winner bonus £25,000
Total £825,000

Unibet Premier League

Darts World Logo

This Week – Darts World’s Dip Into The Arrows’ Archive.

This Week on the darting calendar has varied considerably over the years. In the early days it was a barren time but by the middle of the 1980s it contained a classic event, in more recent times the PDC Pro Tour season has been underway:

A certain ‘Crafty’ thrower was busy claiming another TV title this week in 1985!

35 Years Ago:

The Dry Blackthorn Masters was at its peak. The tournament was similar to ‘Masters’ events played today or those held in Snooker and other sports. Sixteen top players were invited to do battle in front of the camera’s to provide TV with a, relatively short but, high class event. The tournament’s seven year history produced only four winners, but the list tells its own story.

John Lowe claimed the first title in 1983 before losing the next two finals to Eric Bristow including this week in 1985. John then reclaimed the title once more before the ‘Crafty Cockney’ completed a hat-trick in 1987. The final two titles were claimed by Mike Gregory and Bob Anderson completed the roll of honour. Only two other players even reached the final, ‘Big’ Cliff Lazerenko and Mick Manning being the only two to disrupt the legends dominance.

10 Years Ago:

This week marked a high-point for Darts World columnist Colin Osborne. ‘The Wizard’ reached a career high, so far, ranking within the top ten. Over the previous twelve months Colin claimed the Championship League of Darts and reached the UK Open Final. The superb run of performances were matched away from the TV cameras, Colin claimed a pair of Pro Tour Players Championships and would go on to a very fruitful rest of 2010.

20 Years Ago:

At the turn of the century Bob Aldous claimed his most significant title. The Scottish Open is on of the UK’s most valued Opens, its latest holding was claimed last weekend by Jim Williams. In a battle of two Englishmen Aldous defeated ‘The Pie Man’, Andy Smith, in the final. Later in the same year Bob reached the semi-final of the Finnish Open and qualified for the World Masters. He finished this great spell by reaching the last 32 in the 2001 World Championships losing out to the legendary Steve Beaton.

Last Year:

2019 featured a remarkable rise from The Asp.
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG NATHAN ASPINALL IN ACTION

Featured a remarkable rankings rise from Nathan Aspinall. This week, in Feb 2019, had The Asp ranked at number 34 in the PDC rankings, and that was after his semi final appearance at the World Championships a few weeks earlier. Fast forward twelve months and Nathan is now ranked No. 8. To move up twenty four places, at the highest end, is remarkable and to do it without a previous career in elite darts makes it unique. Along the way Aspinall has claimed his first major title, a 9 darts and floor tournament victories. It’s a testament to the rash of darting fairy tales, Rob Cross for example, that Aspinall is not regarded as the story of the recent times!