A review of Saturday's conclusion to the Unibet Premier League regular season in Milton Keynes, as Michael van Gerwen crashed out and Glen Durrant topped the standings.
Van Gerwen crashes out
Michael van Gerwen's hopes of winning the Premier League Darts title for the sixth time - and fifth in a row - are over after a sensational 8-2 defeat at the hands of Daryl Gurney ensured he could no longer reach the play-offs.
The world number one had topped the regular season table in each of his seven previous campaigns since his debut in 2013 and while that 100% record went up in smoke several days ago, he was still in with a strong chance of finishing in the top four.
Gary Anderson's heavy 8-3 defeat to Gerwyn Price in the opening match of the final night put destiny in van Gerwen's hands and he knew that the same scoreline or better in his favour would see him leapfrog the Flying Scotsman on legs difference and guarantee himself a play-off spot - regardless of the outcome of the following two games.
That particular permutation was off the table when he fell 4-0 down after a nightmare start in which he was averaging in the mid-70s and making life remarkably easy for rock-bottom Gurney, who has been in stranded in eighth place since Judgement Night.
SuperChin wasn't exactly playing to a sparkling standard himself although a fine 121 checkout completed a 12-darter in the fifth leg while a finish from 90 moved him 6-0 ahead as he threatened an amazing whitewash.
Van Gerwen had upped his average into the 80s by this point and a 121 checkout of his own would have arose faint hopes of arrival among his ardent supporters until Gurney guaranteed himself a point in the next.
The three-time world champion did pull another back before the Northern Irishman put him out of his misery with a match-winning 104 checkout that brought MVG's worst ever Premier League campaign to a miserable end.
Van Gerwen averaged 91.74 compared to Gurney's 91.04 but missed 11 of his 13 darts at doubles as his opponent made eight of his 16. Both managed a solitary 180 apiece.
MVG had never lost more than four games in a regular season before this one while his leg difference had always been somewhere between +27 and +43. This year he was beaten on seven occasions across his 16 matches, which included a draw with Glen Durrant, and his legs difference ended up on -4.
Another alarming statistic is that his 8-1 hammering at the hands of Peter Wright earlier this week was the first time in 139 Premier League matches that he'd failed to win at least three legs - and now it's happened again in quick succession.
Questions will now be asked about how strongly he can come back from this huge setback and whether he'll ever be able to dominate the sport in the same way again.
Debut delight for Duzza and Aspinall
Glen Durrant emulated Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen by becoming just the third player in Premier League history to finish top of the regular season table - and will be joined in the play-offs by fellow debutant Nathan Aspinall.
The 49-year-old, who has reached four major PDC semi-finals since switching from the BDO shortly after his third Lakeside crown in January 2019, also pockets a cool £25,000 as a reward for his incredible campaign in which he started as one of the outsiders at 25/1 for title glory.
Taylor topped the standings in each of the first eight Premier League seasons from 2005 to 2012 until van Gerwen won his first on debut in 2013 before repeating in the feat every year for the next six.
Durrant's achievement was sealed as soon as Gary Anderson failed to beat Gerwyn Price - let alone by a big enough margin - meaning he could play his final match against Aspinall without any ounce of pressure to make history.
However, this may have had an adverse affect on him during a closing 8-2 defeat as his fired-up opponent, who needed a point to jump above Gerwyn Price in the table and secure a top-four spot, flew out of the blocks and moved into a commanding 5-1 lead thanks to a wonderful 170 checkout with Duzza waiting on 25.
The Stockport star followed that up with an 11-darter and although Durrant pulled one back by taking out 127 - any hopes of a trademark comeback were snuffed out when Aspinall finished from 124 on the bullseye to guarantee his place in the play-offs.
His joy and emotion were clear to see, but he was quick to apologise to the table-topper for his exuberant celebrations.
Aspinall completed the comprehensive victory in the next leg after the Teessider spurned three darts at a double and he'll now meet second-placed Peter Wright in next month's play-offs, which are scheduled to take place at the O2 on Thursday October 22.
The 29-year-old averaged 101.46 compared to Durrant's 100.15 and while he only hit one more 180 with two, he pinned eight of his 13 double attempts as his opponent uncharacteristically spurned as many as seven of his nine.
It's just the latest in a long line of achievements in the sky rocketing career of Aspinall in a superb years, in which he's also reached two World Championship semi-finals and won two TV titles including the 2019 UK Open.
Duzza's defeat shouldn't take too much gloss - if any - off his incredible season and although he failed to win any of his last four matches, which included two draws against Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen, he'll still be considered a major threat for title glory in the play-offs.
Wright eases into second
Peter Wright rounded off his Premier League regular season with a comfortable 8-5 victory over Michael Smith which lifted him into second.
Snakebite may have been surprised to step up on the Marshall Arena stage already assured of a play-off spot due to Michael van Gerwen's shock defeat in the previous match of the night, although the lack of pressure didn't see either player produce a particularly high standard.
Nevertheless, Wright's win means he equals his highest ever finish in the Premier League table having reached the same position in the only other year he qualified for the play-offs in 2017. On that occasion, of course, he famously missed six title darts in the play-off final against Michael van Gerwen.
Checkouts of 86 and 76 helped Snakebite saunter into a 7-2 lead although Bully Boy, who was stranded in seventh on 13 points with nothing but pride to play for, did threaten a comeback with three unanswered legs to reduce the deficit to 7-5.
Smith spurned two darts at a double in the next leg as Wright closed out the victory which sets up a semi-final on play-off night with Nathan Aspinall.
The world champion, who beat Smith in the season-opening Masters, averaged 96.62 compared to his opponent's 94.33 while the pair both hit three maximums. Bully Boy hit the highest checkout with 128 and was actually more clinical on his finishing as he pinned five of his 11 as Wright missed 12 of his 22.
Price frozen out of running
Gerwyn Price completed a resounding regular season double over Gary Anderson in the opening match of the night but it was all in vain as he missed out on the play-offs for the second season in a row.
The Iceman, who finished bottom in his debut campaign in 2018 before finishing fifth a year later, followed up his crushing 8-1 victory over the Flying Scotsman on the second night of the restart with another one-sided 8-3 triumph that temporarily lift himself into fourth.
Price clung onto that position when van Gerwen suffered a heavy 8-2 defeat to Daryl Gurney but slipped agonisingly into fifth when Nathan Aspinall leapfrogged him with an 8-2 win over table-topper Glen Durrant in the final match of the regular season.
It'll come as little consolation now but the two-time Grand Slam of Darts winner, who won the first of those titles in acrimonious circumstances against Anderson, produced the kind of stunning performance that we should have seen more of throughout a largely frustrating season.
He averaged 107.7, hit three 180s and pinned eight of his 14 attempts at doubles - although to say his opponent made life easy is an understatement.
The 2011 and 2015 Premier League champion was well below his best with an average of 83.39 but he did at least raise the crowd-less Marshall Arena roof with a 170 checkout that came out of the blue.
Such a heavy defeat did put what had put a likely play-off spot in serious doubt and he would have missed out had Michael van Gerwen managed to beat Daryl Gurney by a plausible 8-3 scoreline. However, he was breathing a sigh of relief when SuperChin moved 4-0 up en route to a shocking 8-2 victory.
Table, Night 16 results & remaining fixtures
- Durrant (W) P 16 W 8 D 5 L 3 LegD +19 Pts 21
- Wright (Q) P 16 W 9 D 2 L 5 LegD +18 Pts 20
- Aspinall (Q) P 16 W 9 D 1 L 6 LegD +11 Pts 19
- Anderson (Q) P 16 W 8 D 3 L 5 LegD +6 Pts 19
- Price P 16 W 6 D 5 L 5 LegD +15 Pts 17
- Van Gerwen P 16 W 8 D 1 L 7 LegD -4 Pts 17
- Smith P 16 W 5 D 3 L 8 LegD -7 Pts 13
- Gurney P 16 W 4 D 3 L 9 LegD -15 Pts 11
- Cross P 9 W 1 D 3 L 5 LegD -14 Pts 5* ELIMINATED AT JUDGEMENT NIGHT
Night 16 Saturday September 5
Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)
- Gerwyn Price 8-3 Gary Anderson
- Michael van Gerwen 2-8 Daryl Gurney
- Peter Wright 8-5 Michael Smith
- Nathan Aspinall 8-2 Glen Durrant
Play-Offs - Thursday October 22
The O2, London
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)
Semi-Finals (Best of 19 legs)
- Glen Durrant v Gary Anderson
- Peter Wright v Nathan Aspinall
Finals (Best of 21 legs)
- Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2