Premier League Darts - night 13 round-up
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld all booked places in the McCoy's Premier League Darts Play-Offs with wins at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Thursday - but the fight for the final place will be decided in Week 14 after James Wade suffered a double of defeats.
Dutch star van Gerwen continued his brilliant debut Premier League season by becoming the first player to be mathematically certain of a top-four finish when he picked up a 7-4 win over Andy Hamilton.
The 24-year-old remains three points clear at the top of the table after winning his tenth game of the campaign, and he said: "It's a very important win and I'm really happy to be through to the Play-Offs now.
"It's been a dream of mine to be at The O2 in the semi-finals. I'm doing very well but it would be amazing if I can finish top of the league table too because nobody other than Phil Taylor's ever done that.
"I've got one game left in Newcastle next week so that would be a big step for me."
Reigning champion Taylor, meanwhile, picked up a fourth win in his last five matches as he gained revenge for his Week Nine loss to Robert Thornton with a 7-2 defeat of the Scot.
Taylor swept through the game's first four legs without reply, taking out a 164 checkout in the process, and though Thornton finished 138 as he hit back to 5-2, the World Champion proved too strong.
"I'm really pleased with that win and we both enjoyed that match," said Taylor. "Robert's been one of the best players this season so it's a massive bonus to beat him.
"He's a cracking player and he's full of confidence, and every time I knocked him down he was bouncing back up - his 138 was great!
"My form's still coming good and I'm really up for the Premier League. I'm working hard, practising well and trying my socks off to win the title."
Van Barneveld, meanwhile, sealed his Play-Off place with a strong performance to defeat Adrian Lewis 7-4, averaging 102 and producing some superb finishing.
The pair shared the game's opening four legs, but van Barneveld took out 106 and 91 in a run of three successive legs as he took command, crucially punishing six missed doubles from Lewis as he broke in another leg.
Lewis took two legs to pull back to 5-4, but van Barneveld landed tops and then finished 96 to seal the triumph.
"I'm delighted to be through to the Play-Offs and it's so far, so good for me," said van Barneveld. "My game's really good at the moment and I'm feeling confident, and I think I'm having a good Premier League so far.
"The first target was not to be relegated and then we all focused on making the Play-Offs, and it's great for me to be back in there again. I've done a lot of hard work and it's paying off, particularly with my doubles because I feel very comfortable with my finishing."
The fight for fourth place in the league table, though, will only be decided in Newcastle on the final league night next Thursday after 2009 champion James Wade lost to both Simon Whitlock and Andy Hamilton in Liverpool.
Whitlock kept alive his slim Play-Off hopes with a 7-4 win over the left-hander, taking out four ton-plus checkouts which included a 130 finish to open the game and a 116 combination to seal the triumph.
"This win keeps me alive and it means everything to me to still be in with a shout of reaching the Play-Offs in the final week," said Whitlock.
"I love the McCoy's Premier League and I want to be successful. I'd love to be there for the Play-Offs and it would be a dream to make the final again after being there last year, so I'll fight all the way in Newcastle."
Hamilton's earlier defeat to van Gerwen had ended any feint hopes he had of reaching the top four for a second successive season, but he returned to the stage to defeat Wade 7-2 with a 100 average in the night's final contest.
"There was a lot more pressure earlier on in the game against Michael and although I had my chances I didn't take them," said Hamilton, a semi-finalist 12 months ago. "I was more relaxed against James and that probably showed in my performance.
"I want to win my final game next week and hopefully finish as high up the table as I can do. I played some great darts against James and I'd like to take that into next week's game with Adrian."
Wade remains in fourth place in the league table on 16 points going into next Thursday's decisive league night at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena, where he plays Taylor.
Thornton sits just a point behind and crucially has a game in hand, although he will face both van Barneveld and van Gerwen in Newcastle, while Whitlock - who has 14 points - plays Lewis and van Barneveld.
Tickets for the McCoy's Premier League Darts at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle are still available by calling 0844 493 6666 or by visiting www.metroradioarena.co.uk.
McCoy's Premier League Darts
May 2 - Echo Arena, Liverpool
Michael van Gerwen 7-4 Andy Hamilton
James Wade 4-7 Simon Whitlock
Robert Thornton 2-7 Phil Taylor
Raymond van Barneveld 7-4 Adrian Lewis
James Wade 2-7 Andy Hamilton
May 9 - Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Revised Order of Play
Andy Hamilton v Adrian Lewis
Robert Thornton v Raymond van Barneveld
Adrian Lewis v Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Robert Thornton
Simon Whitlock v Raymond van Barneveld
Latest League Table
P W D L +/- LWAT Pts
Michael van Gerwen - Q 15 10 2 3 +28 36 22
Phil Taylor - Q 15 8 3 4 +22 39 19
Raymond van Barneveld - Q 14 8 3 3 +18 36 19
James Wade 15 7 2 6 +6 30 16
Robert Thornton 14 6 3 5 +2 30 15
Simon Whitlock 14 7 0 7 -6 31 14
Andy Hamilton 15 6 0 9 -9 29 12
Adrian Lewis 14 3 1 10 -29 21 7
Wes Newton 9 2 1 6 -14 5
Gary Anderson 9 2 1 6 -18 5
Michael van Gerwen v Andy Hamilton
0-0 - Michael van Gerwen will throw first
1-0 - van Gerwen makes a superb start, hitting a 180 and landing tops for a 14-darter.
2-0 - Hamilton misses three darts at double 11 to level and van Gerwen posts double four to break.
2-1 - Hamilton lands double seven to get off the mark with a break of his own.
2-2 - Hamilton opens with 177 and 180, and although he is unable to complete a nine-darter he returns to finish double eight for a 12-darter.
3-2 - van Gerwen hits tops to edge back ahead.
3-3 - Hamilton takes out 76 to level matters.
4-3 - Double eight sees van Gerwen win his fourth leg to edge closer to booking his place in the Play-Offs.
5-3 - van Gerwen takes out 68 in two darts on double four to break throw and regain his two-leg lead.
6-3 - Hamilton hits a 180, but misses two darts at tops to finish 100 as van Gerwen returns to finish double three for a 13-darter which earns him a point to ensure he qualifies for the Play-Offs.
6-4 - Hamilton takes out 106 to keep alive his hopes of taking something from the game, although his feint hopes of reaching the Play-Offs have been ended with him unable to win the game.
7-4 - van Gerwen lands double five to seal the victory which maintains his lead at the top of the table.
Click here to see video reaction from Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Simon Whitlock
0-0 - James Wade will throw first
0-1 - Whitlock takes out 130 on the bull for an immediate break of throw.
0-2 - Wade hits a maximum but double top sees
1-2 - Whitlock lands a 180, but misses double top and Wade finishes 83 to get off the mark.
1-3 - Whitlock takes out 126 with two treble 19s and double six to regain his cushion.
2-3 - The Australian misses two darts for another break of throw as Wade hits back.
2-4 - Whitlock takes out 108 for a third ton-plus finish.
3-4 - Double ten sees Wade hit back.
3-5 - Wade opens with a 180, but tops gives Whitlock the leg.
3-6 - Whitlock hits a 180 to leave 28 and posts double 14 to earn at least a point.
4-6 - Whitlock misses two darts at tops for the match as Wade pins double ten to stay in the game.
4-7 - Wade misses double five for a 130 finish, and Whitlock takes out 116 on tops to seal victory with a fourth ton-plus checkout.
Robert Thornton v Phil Taylor
0-0 - Robert Thornton will throw first
0-1 - Taylor finishes 78 on tops to break throw in the opening leg.
0-2 - Double seven sees Taylor double his lead in the game.
0-3 - Thornton posts a 180, but Taylor brilliantly finishes 164 with two treble 19s and the bull.
0-4 - Taylor wins a fourth leg - this time ending with the board's smallest double, double one!
1-4 - Taylor lands two 180s to leave 60 after nine darts, but Thornton takes out 138 to win his first leg of the game.
1-5 - Thornton opens with 140 and 180, but can only watch as Taylor takes out 97 on tops to win a fifth leg.
2-5 - Thornton again lands 180 and 140 to kick off the leg, and posts double four to take his second leg - meaning that Taylor cannot mathematically seal his Play-Off place in this game.
2-6 - Taylor finishes 76 on tops to ensure at least a draw.
2-7 - Taylor takes out 68 to seal victory which sees him move four points clear of fifth-placed Thornton in the league table.
Raymond van Barneveld v Adrian Lewis
0-0 - Raymond van Barneveld will throw first
1-0 - van Barneveld takes out 95 to win the opening leg.
1-1 - Lewis levels by landing double ten.
2-1 - Double 16 from the Dutchman sees him edge back in front.
2-2 - The pair trade 180s before Lewis posts tops to square the game once more.
3-2 - van Barneveld finishes 106 on double 16 to hold throw once again.
4-2 - Lewis lands a third maximum of the game, but misses six darts to win the leg as van Barneveld makes him pay by breaking for the first time on double eight.
5-2 - van Barneveld finishes 91 on tops to win a third successive leg.
5-3 - Double 16 from Lewis sees him hit back.
5-4 - van Barneveld misses double top and ten, and Lewis lands double ten to break throw and reduce the gap to one leg.
6-4 - van Barneveld takes out 80 on tops to ensure at least a point.
7-4 - van Barneveld takes out 96 on double 18 to complete the win, ending with a fine 102 average.
James Wade v Andy Hamilton
0-0 - James Wade will throw first
1-0 - Double ten sees Wade win the opening leg.
1-1 - Hamilton hits the same double to level the game.
1-2 - Wade misses tops for a 145 finish, and Hamilton break throw for the first time in the game.
1-3 - Hamilton wins a third successive leg, taking out 110 with Wade sat on 40.
2-3 - Wade opens with two 180s to raise hopes of hitting a nine-darter, and although he misses a seventh treble 20, the left-hander wins the leg on double five.
2-4 - Double nine sees Hamilton restore his cushion.
2-5 - Hamilton breaks throw on double 16 to move three legs clear.
2-6 - Hamilton opens with a 180 and finishes 56 to earn a minimum of a draw.
2-7 - Wade opens with a 180, but misses tops to keep his hopes alive and Hamilton pins double 16 to take the win - although with his Play-Off chances ended it is a consolation triumph.