Michael van Gerwen has won a round in the Premier League for the third time in a row. The six-time final winner of the prestigious PDC television tournament had no measure on Thursday evening. Jonny Clayton and Peter Wright had nothing to say against the Dutchman, while Michael Smith was narrowly defeated 6-4 in the final. Van Gerwen had little trouble with Jonny Clayton in his first match. Without playing great (97.26 average) he managed to break his opponent twice. With 6-2 he stepped off the podium.
Van Gerwen against Wright in semi-final
His opponent in the semi-final came from the duel between Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price. In a game full of missed match darts, it was Wright who emerged as the winner. The Scot let Price come back from 5-2 to 5-5, but his ninth match arrow went in anyway. Price himself also left three darts to win the game. Nathan Aspinall and Michael Smith won their quarterfinals against Chris Dobey (6-4) and Dimitri van den Bergh (6-3) respectively.
Wright, who has not reached the semi-finals in the Premier League this year, had little to say to Van Gerwen. Thanks to three 180’ers and a finish percentage of around 35 percent, the man from Vlijmen only had to give up one leg. In the final, Mighty Mike faced Michael Smith. The reigning world champion did not play the best match in his semi-final against Nathan Aspinall, but his 31-year-old compatriot was even worse: 6-2.
Smith is also defeated
In the final it was very even between Van Gerwen and Smith. The Dutchman forced a break in the third leg of the match and led 3-1. Smith then found an extra gear and took three legs in a row and with it the lead. Van Gerwen, the number three in the world, then kept his own leg and made it 4-4. In the leg that followed, he placed the decisive break and then Van Gerwen expertly finished the game: 6-4.
Michael van Gerwen vs Smith
“You have to be at your best in a final against a player like Michael Smith and I’m glad I did,” said Van Gerwen, who has won his last nine Premier League games and is now eight points clear of the top of the competition. “When you’re under pressure, it’s the best feeling in the world to produce a good game. It gives you joy and it gives you confidence. I know how to win without playing my A-game, but I think I played really well tonight against Michael Smith. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m winning games and when you see the score, I can’t really complain.” Earlier this year, Van Gerwen and Smith also met once before in the Premier League. That was on the first day of play in Belfast. Then it became 6-3 in the quarterfinals.