Two weeks into this new season and the Premier League has a familiar look at the top of the table.
Michael van Gerwen sits in pole position with the only 100 per cent record still standing after two rounds of darts’ biggest roadshow, following up his 7-5 win over the reigning world champion Peter Wright with a 7-1 thrashing over Daryl Gurney in Nottingham last night.
Going into this Premier League campaign, van Gerwen was still the favourite with the bookmakers to lift the title for a joint-record sixth time, matching Phil Taylor’s haul, and also finish top of the table for an eighth year in a row.
Despite that, the World Championship final defeat to Wright on New Year’s Day, and the first-round exit at the Masters a fortnight ago, coupled with getting to grips with the changeover of darts manufacturer to Winmau, meant there were question marks around van Gerwen heading into this new Premier League season.
Trailing Wright 2-0 in Aberdeen, and watching on as Wright threw for a double for a 3-0 lead and a double break, those question marks would have looked even bigger but, after seeing his opponent spurn that chance, van Gerwen has not looked back.
Four 100-plus checkouts, 7/9 on the doubles, four maximums and 6/7 legs won in 15 darts or less, all added up to a 104.13 average and a 7-5 win against the man who had won the last two PDC televised events.
Last night, van Gerwen put another point on his average, improving to 105.05, despite two more misses at doubles, but he blew away Gurney, winning the first six legs to seriously threaten a 7-0 whitewash.
Gurney avoided the whitewash by holding throw in the next leg, but van Gerwen flexed his muscles again with a 13 darter to get over the line. Two wins out of two and top of the Premier League for the first time this season.
With this being the first Premier League without one of Phil Taylor or Raymond van Barneveld in the field, it does feel like the tournament is entering a new chapter, with new faces such as Nathan Aspinall and Glen Durrant, along with players who have established themselves over the last two or three years, including Gerwyn Price, Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney and Michael Smith.
Add in the two Scottish World Cup winners, Wright and the returning Gary Anderson, and from what we’ve seen on the oche in the first two weeks, you sense the race for the play-offs could be a tightly run race this year.
Can anyone stop van Gerwen from finishing top again? Van Gerwen has already shown consistency these last two weeks with his new setup, which is a frightening sign for the other eight players in the field.
In his post-match interview on stage with Sky Sports last night, van Gerwen said “talent doesn’t just disappear”. Van Gerwen looks to have settled now with his new equipment, it’s up to his rivals to put that seed of doubt in his mind by taking points off of him.
Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC