MVG wins his fourth Premier League Darts title after averaging 112 in an 11-4 victory over Michael Smith

Last Updated May 18 2018, 09:15Darts
Michael van Gerwen is a big fan of the Premier League Darts trophy
Michael van Gerwen is a big fan of the Premier League Darts trophy

Michael van Gerwen produced a breathtaking performance against Michael Smith as he won his fourth Premier League Darts title at London's O2.

Scroll down for a full blog recap & stats from the Premier League Play-Offs

By Chris Hammer

Michael van Gerwen produced one of the greatest performances ever seen to win his fourth Premier League Darts title as he thrashed first-time finalist Michael Smith 11-4 thanks to a blistering average of 112.37.

It's the second highest ever in a televised final - just below the 112.49 he managed in the 2015 Masters - but at one point his own televised world record of 123.40 was at risk.

That was a mark he set in the 2016 Premier League regular season against Smith and when he led 8-2 tonight, he was still averaging as high as 122.24.

His ridiculously high levels then slipped off ever so slightly as Bully Boy, who was appearing in his first major TV final after seeing off his mentor Gary Anderson 10-6 in the last four, managed to win three of the next five legs with the help of two ton+ checkouts.

It merely delayed the inevitable as MVG sealed a third straight Premier League title and a cheque for £250,000 (in addition to the £25,000 league leaders' bonus) with a 112 checkout, pinning his 11th double in just 16 attempts.

He told www.pdc.tv: "I think I played a phenomenal game, one of my best ever. I know I had a big job to do to win the game but I was focussed on doing something extra – I wanted to break the record average but I fell just short.

"There was a lot of pressure on me to perform but I think I coped with it well and ran out a deserved winner. I had to be at my best to beat Michael, he is one of the big boys now. It means a lot to me to win this tournament, I had to work hard for this over the last 16 weeks and to win it again is amazing."

Smith can walk away from the campaign with his head held higher than ever after finally proving he's properly 'arrived' on the big stage.

The 2013 World Youth champion began the season as an 80/1 outsider for and third favourite for relegation, with some critics even questioning his place in the 10-man line-up.

But having finished the regular season in second place and then beating his great friend Anderson in the semi-final, he'll now firmly believe he can one day soon scoop a major trophy.

The St Helens man averaged a far from shabby 97 in the final, hitting six 180s and throwing those two 100+ checkouts, with one of them being the match high of 125.

He said: "Michael was just too good tonight, I tried my best but it just wasn’t enough on the night. Even at 8-2 down I was battling to win legs, which I might not have done before this year when I might’ve thrown the towel in. I will be back next year, determined to go one better and lift the title."

Mighty Mike had reached his sixth successive final in this competition after earlier extending his 100% semi-final record with a comfortable 10-6 victory over an out-of-sorts Rob Cross, meaning he completed the season treble over the world champion.

Voltage seemed to be affected by the sternum injury which forced him to pull out of the weekend's Dutch Darts Masters through injury and only averaged 96 although he did bring a degree of respectabilities to the scoreline after falling 5-1 behind.

Those three Premier League wins over Cross this season will go a huge way to making up for that epic World Championship semi-final defeat he suffered at the hands of the Englishman and there's certainly no doubt who truly is the best on the planet right now.

Premier League Play-Offs: Statistics

FINAL: Michael van Gerwen 11-4 Michael Smith

  • Average
    MVG: 112.37
    Smith: 97.01
  • 180s
    MVG: 7
    Smith: 6
  • 100+ checkouts
    MVG: 1
    Smith: 2
  • High checkout
    MVG: 112
    Smith: 125
  • Checkout percentage
    MVG: 68.75% (11/16)
    Smith: 36.36% (4/11)

SEMI-FINAL: Michael van Gerwen 10-6 Rob Cross

  • Average
    MVG: 103.65
    Cross: 96.04
  • 180s
    MVG: 9
    Cross: 5
  • 100+ checkouts
    MVG: 1
    Cross: 1
  • High checkout
    MVG: 128
    Cross: 118
  • Checkout percentage
    MVG: 50% (10/20)
    Cross: 54.55% (6/11)

SEMI-FINAL: Michael Smith 10-6 Gary Anderson

  • Average
    Smith: 97.49
    Anderson: 95.35
  • 180s
    Smith: 8
    Anderson: 5
  • 100+ checkouts
    Smith: 2
    Anderson: 0
  • High checkout
    Smith: 120
    Anderson: 60
  • Checkout percentage
    Smith: 40% (10/25)
    Anderson: 33.33% (6/18)

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SEASON RESULTS, TABLE & STATISTICS

Premier League Darts Blog Recap

By Chris Hammer

That was a truly special performance from a man who just loves reminding the world that he is the very best. There's always doubters waiting for him to trip up but there's nobody that can stop him in that kind of mood.

MVG's average of 112.37 was just a shade lower than his world best for a televised final (112.49 in the 2015 Masters) while he threw seven 180s, had a high checkout of 112 and hit 11 of his 16 attempts at doubles.

He won three legs in 11-darts during a breathtaking run which saw him go 8-1 up and at that point he was seriously threatening his own world-record televised average of 123.40, which he managed against Smith in the 2016 Premier League.

Van Gerwen said: "Until the break I played phenomenal then I saw my average was near the record and it went a bit down. He put me under pressure but I think there was only going to be one winner. I was under pressure to win this because it's the second biggest one."

Smith can hold his head extremely high after reaching his first major final following his earlier triumph over Gary Anderson.

Bully Boy, who finished the regular season in second, said: "This man tonight was unbelievable. I tried my best tonight but it wasn't good enough, he was too good. He's the best player in the world and I knew I had to hit him with something big tonight, I'll be gunning for him at the Matchplay."

LEG 15
It's all over and Michael van Gerwen has blown Michael Smith away with a scintillating performance! He completes an 11-4 triumph with a 112 checkout on doubles tops and ends up with an average of 112.37. It was highest by anyone this season and he saved it for the biggest of occasions.
MVG 11-4

LEG 14
Smith manages his sixth 180 of the match as he keeps his faintest of hopes alive with a very mediocre 21-darter that has taken the shine of MVG's astonishing average. It's 'only' 112 now!
MVG 10-4 Smith

LEG 13
MVG wins a leg in, wait for it, 16 darts! What kind of standard is that Michael?! It contributes to his average coming down to 116.56 so the world record attempt is over.
MVG 10-3 Smith

LEG 12
Smith brings a little more respectability to the scoreline as he takes out 104 for a 15-darter.
MVG 9-3 Smith

LEG 11
No sign of a post-interval slump from MVG as he nails his seventh 180 of the final en route to another leg in 13 darts. His average is still above 122.
MVG 9-2 Smith

INTERVAL
Wow. Wow. Wow. MVG is going to win his fourth Premier League Darts title in his sixth successive final. It's just a question of whether he can break his own world record televised average of 123.4. He's currently scoring at a rate of 122.24.

LEG 10
The comeback is on - Bully Boy nails a 125 checkout to cut the deficit to 8-2! He's not playing badly whatsoever. He's hit five 180s and is averaging 102. It just so happens MVG is averaging 122.90!
MVG 8-2 Smith

LEG NINE
A third 11-darter of the match sends MVG 8-1 clear and his average stays at astronomical 120+ levels. I'm speechless and so are the crowd. You can bizarrely hear a beer cup drop.
MVG 8-1 Smith

LEG EIGHT
Has he ever played this well. It's just incredible! Words fail me. And that's not good for a blog.
MVG 7-1 Smith

LEG SEVEN
This is as ruthless a performance as you're ever likely to see. The legs are over before you can type MVG. He lands another 11-darter to go five clear and is threatening world record average! The Green Machine is currently on 121.5!
MVG 6-1 Smith

LEG SIX
Smith has hit four 180s and is averaging 108 but it's counting for absolutely nothing right now. MVG goes agonisingly close to a 170 checkout but comes back to take the leg after Smith spurned a rare chance at tops.
MVG 5-1 Smith

LEG FIVE
MVG wins the leg is what felt like a 'below par' 13 darts - which says it all.
MVG 4-1 Smith

LEG FOUR
Smith finally gets off the mark with a hold of throw and maybe, just maybe, he'll be able to build on this. But he'll need to break soon to get right back into it.
MVG 3-1 Smith

LEG THREE
This is a breathless start from MVG and it's hard to keep up! He follows up those two 12-darters with an 11-darter and he's currently averaging 126!
MVG 3-0 Smith

LEG TWO
Smith begins the leg with his first maximum of the final but he's unable to make it count as MVG nails his second during a 12-darter for a break.
MVG 2-0 Smith

LEG ONE, MVG TO THROW FIRST
For the third successive match of the night, the action kicks off with a 180 and ends with a hold of throw as MVG takes an early lead.
MVG 1-0 Smith

2105: The players have made their way out to the stage, and all the fans, including Robin van Persie, are ready. So let's go!

Robin van Persie in a funny hat
Robin van Persie is particularly excited right now, with his man in the final

2105: Here's a quick look at some stats ahead of the final. I picked Michael Smith at 14/1 before tonight and although I was 'expecting' him to be facing Rob Cross, I'm going to stick with him. Why not!? Although the head-to-head stats in particular don't make happy reading!

Michael van Gerwen (1/9) v Michael Smith (11/2)

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD

  • Overall: 22-5
  • 2018 Premier League meetings
    MVG 7-2 Smith - Night 8 (Click for report & stats)
    Smith 1-7 MVG - Night 14 (Click for report & stats)
  • Other TV major meetings
    MVG 7-1 Smith - Premier League, Feb '16
    MVG 10-3 Smith - Masters, Jan '16
    MVG 16-6 Smith - Grand Slam of Darts SF, Nov '15
Michael van Gerwen faces Michael Smith in the final
Michael van Gerwen faces Michael Smith in the final

PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS 2018 STATS

  • League Position: First - Second
  • Matches Won/Lost/Drawn: MVG 12-4-1 Smith 10-5-2
  • Legs Won: 116 - 100
  • 3-dart Average: 103.58 - 95.43
  • 180s: 65 - 49
  • 100+ checkouts: 20 - 12
  • Highest checkout: 170 - 160
  • Checkout %: 45.75% (113/247) - 42.19% (100/237)

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN FACTS

  • Nickname: Mighty Mike
  • Date of Birth: 25/04/1989
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • World Ranking: 1
  • Walk-on music: Seven Nation Army, White Stripes
  • Career highlights: 2x World Champion (2014 & 2017), 2x World Matchplay champion (2015, 2016), 3x Premier League champion (2013, 2016, 2017), 3x World Grand Prix champion (2012, 2014, 2016), 2x UK Open champion (2015, 2016), 3x Grand Slam of Darts champion (2015, 2016, 2017), 4x European champion (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), 4x Masters champion (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), 4x Players Championship Finals champion (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017), 2x World Cup winner (2014, 2017) & over 100 PDC titles overall!

MICHAEL SMITH FACTS

  • Nickname: Bully Boy
  • Date of Birth: 18/09/1990
  • Nationality: English
  • World Ranking: 9
  • Walk-on music: Shut Up & Dance, Walk The Moon
  • Career highlights: World Youth Champion (2013), winner of nine non-televised PDC titles

2055: There 's a quick refreshment break before tonight's final between the three-time champion, who is appearing in his sixth successive Premier League final, and the 80/1 pre-tournament outsider.

I'll just flag up one paragraph I wrote in my Finals Night betting preview...

"In 10 years, when Michael Smith has a couple of world titles under his belt and a few more major trophies, we'll all look back on the 2018 Premier League season as the time he truly 'arrived'."

Regardless of what happens in this final, I think it's fair to say Michael Smith has now finally arrived.

SMITH DEFEATS ANDERSON 10-6 TO REACH THE PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS FINAL

Smith says: "I can't speak. I don't know what to say. Not only to beat Gary, I've just reached my first major final as well and that's been bugging me. I'd rather that was me and him the final but I got the job done. I'm now in the final and I'm over the moon."

Anderson: “Michael played a good game tonight and he deserved to win. The way I’ve played this year it was a bonus for me to reach the semi-finals. I’ve had some good games and some bad games, but overall I think I did alright in this year’s Premier League. "I’ll be on the end of all the banter for a few weeks now but secretly I’m pleased for him."

LEG 16
He's done it! Back-to-back visits of 140 followed by another of 100 helps Smith run away with the leg and he makes no mistake on tops for a 14-darter which sees him beat his great friend and mentor 10-6! He's into the Premier League Darts final, where he'll meet Michael van Gerwen! beats Gary Anderson 10-6!
Smith 10-6 Anderson

LEG 15
A 180 from Anderson is sandwiched between two from Smith, who then takes out 84 for a stunning 12-darter. One leg away from the final!
Smith 9-6 Anderson

LEG 14
Smith shows signs of tensions with four straight visits of 60 or less and is still on 230 when Anderson completes a 15-darter to cut the deficit.
Smith 8-6 Anderson

LEG 13
Bully Boy bounces back quickly with a 16-darter that was helped along by back-to-back visits of 140 earlier in the leg. Two legs from his first major TV final.
Smith 8-5 Anderson

LEG 12
Smith misses four darts at doubles, including successive attempts at the awkward doubles of six and three, and is made to pay as Anderson comes back with a clinical 52 checkout. It's far from over yet.
Smith 7-5 Anderson

LEG 11
Even though Smith is getting closer to the biggest victory of his career, he's showing no signs of nerves as he coolly takes out 120 for a 7-4 lead!
Smith 7-4 Anderson

INTERVAL

Anderson is averaging 98.23 compared to Smith's 96.66 but he finds himself two legs behind in this fascinating semi-final. Smith edges the 180s count at 5-4 while he has the highest checkout so far of 100. Smith has missed 10 darts at doubles, with Anderson missing 11. Bully Boy is Sky Bet's 4/7 favourite to win this clash, with Anderson priced at 11/8. Click for live Sky Bet darts odds

LEG 10
Bully Boy hits his fifth 180 of the match but goes on to miss all three darts at double 16 to give Anderson a golden opportunity to level the scores. The Flying Scotsman spurns his chance from 60 and it proves costly, with Smith eventually getting over the line on double eight.
Smith 6-4 Anderson

LEG NINE
Smith holds his never on double 15 to stop the rot and get back in front. Anderson was waiting on 50 but was unable to get the chance to take the lead for the first time.
Smith 5-4 Anderson

LEG EIGHT
We're all square as more consistent scoring from Anderson allows him to hold throw comfortably in 15 darts. He's found some rhythm and Smith needs to up his game to halt his mentor's momentum.
Smith 4-4 Anderson

LEG SEVEN
Anderson is quickly eating into his protege's lead, with three successive visits of 134 helping him on his way to a 13-dart break. Bully Boy needs to dig in quickly to keep his nose in front.
Smith 4-3 Anderson

LEG SIX
It's a crucial hold for Anderson in 15 darts as he takes out 52 with his last throw at tops. Smith had applied pressure by leaving 40 in his previous visit.
Smith 4-2 Anderson

LEG FIVE
My faith in Smith wasn't misplaced, as he opens up a four-leg advantage by impressively checking out from 74 in two darts.
Smith 4-1 Anderson

LEG FOUR
The two-time champion brings the crowd to its feet with back-to-back 180s to leave himself 46 but then spurs six darts to finish it off as Smith, who also hit two maximums in the leg, makes him pay by completing a 14 darter on double 18. What a leg.
Smith 3-1 Anderson

LEG THREE
Anderson opens his 180 account on his fourth visit of the leg to leave him 56, and after Smith fails to take out 116, the Flying Scotsman finishes his score in two for a 14-darter.
Smith 2-1 Anderson

LEG TWO
Bully Boy nails his second 180 to leave 40, which he takes out with his last dart on double 10 for a 15-darter. More importantly, he's broken the Anderson throw.
Smith 2-0 Anderson

LEG ONE, SMITH TO THROW FIRST
Michael Smith opens the match - just like MVG did in the opening semi-final - with a 180 and makes the most of it by winning the leg thanks to an impressive 100 checkout.
Smith 1-0 Anderson

2005: I was planning to save this clip to whet the appetite ahead of an MVG v Anderson final but I'll use it anyway in case Smith wins...

2000: Obviously my backing of Michael Smith to lift the trophy means I'm naturally tipping Bully Boy to pull off a shock against his 'competitive dad'. Nevertheless, I expect an epic of much greater proportions than the previous semi-final.

For Anderson backers, he's a reminder of how he can go 'turbo', with this example coming from a thrilling Grand Slam Of Darts victory over Smith last year.

1957: Here's how this semi-final shapes up...

Michael Smith (2/1) v Gary Anderson (2/5)

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD

  • Overall: 3-9
  • 2018 Premier League meetings
    Anderson 5-7 Smith - Night 1 (Click here for report & stats)
    Smith 2-7 Anderson - Night 12 (Click here for report & stats)
  • Other TV major meetings
    Anderson 10-6 Smith - Grand Slam of Darts L16, Nov '17
    Anderson 10-5 Smith - Champions League of Darts Gp, Sept '16

PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS 2018 STATS

  • League Position: Second - Third
  • Matches Won/Lost/Drawn: Smith 9-5-2 Anderson 8-5-3
  • Legs Won/Lost: 90/66 - 95/80
  • 3-dart Average: 95.21 - 99.11
  • 180s: 41 - 57
  • 100+ checkouts: 10 - 17
  • Highest checkout: 160 - 170
  • Checkout %: 42.45% (90/212) - 42.04% (95/226)

GARY ANDERSON FACTS

  • Nickname: The Flying Scotsman
  • Date of Birth: 22/12/1970
  • Nationality: Scottish
  • World Ranking: 4
  • Walk-on music: Jump Around, House of Pain
  • Career highlights: 2x World Champion (2015, 2016), 2x Premier League champion (2011, 2015), UK Open champion (2018), Players Championship Finals champion (2014), over 30 other PDC titles, runner-up in 10 other major finals including the World Championship, UK Open, World Grand Prix & Champions League of Darts

MICHAEL SMITH FACTS

  • Nickname: Bully Boy
  • Date of Birth: 18/09/1990
  • Nationality: English
  • World Ranking: 9
  • Walk-on music: Shut Up & Dance, Walk The Moon
  • Career highlights: World Youth Champion (2013), winner of nine non-televised PDC titles
Gary Anderson faces Michael Smith in the second semi-final
Who are you backing between Gary Anderson and Michael Smith?

1955: Next up is the clash between the 'mentor' and the 'protege' as two-time winner Gary Anderson takes on 80/1 pre-tournament outsider Michael Smith.

The Flying Scotsman said of Bully Boy: "He’s like my adopted son but I will be playing to win. It’ll be great playing Michael on such a massive stage and whichever one of us loses will be there cheering the other on in the final. Whoever wins will be on the wind-up for the next fortnight and neither of us wants to be on the receiving end!"

For more quotes from both players, click here.

MVG DEFEATS ROB CROSS 10-6 TO REACH THE PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS FINAL

MVG: "I made it hard for myself, I don't know why. I did enough to win that game, I could've done a lot better but it's still a phenomenal win. Rob's had a tough year so far and a lot to deal with."

Cross says: “I feel like I might’ve tried a bit too hard early on in the match. My first dart wasn’t going right all night, which allowed Michael to run riot and do what he does best.

“The Premier League has been a massive learning curve for me and I’m confident that I will do even better in the tournament next year if I’m selected. This is still just the beginning for me, I’ve got so much more to give and I know that I will be back playing my best darts in the near future.”

LEG 16
MVG's ninth maximum of the match sets up a clinical 15-darter, which he finishes off with 70 checkout as he books his place in a sixth successive Premier League Darts Final. Voltage's superb debut season has a damp squib finish but you have to say his recent injury problems did affect him up at the oche.
MVG 10-6 Cross

LEG 15
MVG was expecting to come back to take out eight for a place in the final, only for Rob Cross to take out 118 on the bullseye to stay alive. What a shame he's starting to play to his potential so late in the day.
MVG 9-6 Cross

LEG 14
Voltage reduces the deficit with a 12-darter of his own, helped along by his fifth maximum, but it's surely all in vain. He can't win five more legs on the trot can he?
MVG 9-5 Cross

LEG 13
A stunning checkout of 128 following his eighth 180 of the match completes a 12-darter and puts MVG just one away from a sixth successive Premier League Darts final.
MVG 9-4 Cross

LEG 12
Again, MVG gave Cross a huge opportunity when strangely failing to take out 53 following superb visits of 180, 134 and 134. But this time Voltage couldn't take advantage when missing a dart at tops. He paid the price.
MVG 8-4 Cross

LEG 11
Awful set up play from both players. First MVG erroneously hit a treble five to scupper his chances of taking out 104 before Cross made a hash of taking out 72 when following single 20 with single one. He threw his last dart haphazardly at three, not expecting to get another try. But he did, after MVG failed to take out 54, missing twice at tops. Cross then capitalised on double 16 to steal a break.
MVG 7-4 Cross

INTERVAL

MVG is averaging 105.65 compared to Cross' 92.75 and you won't be surprised to learn he's as short as 1/100 with Sky Bet for victory, with Voltage at 20/1.

LEG 10
Maybe it's not quite all over yet as Voltage pulls a much-needed leg back on his own throw thanks to solid visits of 140, 137, 96 and 92 before taking out 36 for a 15-darter.
MVG 7-3 Cross

LEG NINE
MVG is marching towards the final as a fifth 180 of the match puts him on his way to an 11-darter, with Cross way back on 245. There is no way back.
MVG 7-2 Cross

LEG EIGHT
Cross' mini comeback lasted just one leg as MVG breaks back immediately in a relatively sluggish 18 darts. His average as come down to 106 but he will hardly care about that given the scoreline.
MVG 6-2 Cross

LEG SEVEN
MVG was on course to go 6-1 up but he missed three darts at a double from 40 and that allowed Cross to break by taking out 80 in two darts. He earlier hit his third 180 of the match to show signs of recovery.
MVG 5-2 Cross

LEG SIX
Perhaps the injury that forced Rob Cross out of the weekend's Dutch Darts Masters is troubling him tonight as he's just not putting MVG under any pressure. He's broken again after failing to reach a finish as van Gerwen wins the leg in 13 darts.
MVG 5-1 Cross

LEG FIVE
It's looking quite a procession at the moment, with MVG averaging almost 112 and Cross down on 94. Visits of 134, 140 and 180 in this leg sets up an 11-darter for MVG, with a far from high Voltage back on 223.
MVG 4-1 Cross

LEG FOUR
The Dutchman is pumped up now as he earns the first break of the match in 15 darts after Cross faltered on 91 and failed to even earn a shot at a double. It's stating the obvious but he can't afford to let MVG get a commanding lead.
MVG 3-1 Cross

LEG THREE
MVG gets his nose ahead once more with a comfortable hold in 15 darts, managing a third 180 in the process. Cross was way back on 183.
MVG 2-1 Cross

LEG TWO
Cross is unfazed by that blistering start from MVG as he hits his first maximum of the match on his way to a cool 14-dart leg to level the scores.
MVG 1-1 Cross

LEG ONE, MVG TO THROW FIRST
Wow what a start from MVG at the O2, which is still filling up. The Dutchman opened the match with a 180, then threw another on his third visit before taking out 84 in three for a 12-darter.
MVG 1-0 Cross

1916: Right, MVG vs Rob Cross is about to begin. I've already shared their season stats so here's a quick look at their career achievements and bios.

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN FACTS

  • Nickname: Mighty Mike
  • Date of Birth: 25/04/1989
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • World Ranking: 1
  • Walk-on music: Seven Nation Army, White Stripes
  • Career highlights: 2x World Champion (2014 & 2017), 2x World Matchplay champion (2015, 2016), 3x Premier League champion (2013, 2016, 2017), 3x World Grand Prix champion (2012, 2014, 2016), 2x UK Open champion (2015, 2016), 3x Grand Slam of Darts champion (2015, 2016, 2017), 4x European champion (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), 4x Masters champion (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), 4x Players Championship Finals champion (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017), 2x World Cup winner (2014, 2017) & over 100 PDC titles overall!

ROB CROSS FACTS

  • Nickname: Voltage
  • Date of Birth: 21/09/1990
  • Nationality: English
  • World Ranking: 3
  • Walk-on music: Hot Hot Hot - Arrow
  • Career highlights: World Champion (2018), European Championship runner-up (2017) four non-televised PDC titles

1915: It was interesting to hear Wayne Mardle agree with me on Sky Sports (although I very much down he knows my opinion!) that Michael Smith is a great bet at an insulting 14/1 to lift the trophy tonight.

He's really come of age at last this season and has more belief than ever that his time is now. Sometimes belief is all you need at the highest level.

1912: There's no time to listen to the last Sporting Life Darts Podcast of the Premier League season now (Rob Cross is just making his entrance) but do make a note to listen later as we do our own Oscar-style review of the season. You can then switch off for the predictions bit!

It's the final Sporting Life Darts Podcast of the Premier League season
Click here to listen to our Oscar-style review of the season with John Part and Chris Hammer

1910: If you've read my tips and John's predictions, you'll know we couldn't disagree more on how tonight's Premier League Play-Offs will unfold. In a nutchell I think Michael Smith (click to read) will triumph in a final against Rob Cross while John reckons Gary Anderson will shock MVG in the final (click to read). How close will either of us get?

1905: Fans of the Sporting Life Darts Podcast will know John Part and I get on like a house on fire. Except in Leeds...

1900: So who are you backing to win? If you're still undecided then you've come to the right place for some hints, tips and statistics to help make your mind up. You can click here for my own best bets and analysis or/and click here for John Part's predictions if you trust a more famous view! Below is some stats for both semi-finals, starting with MVG v Cross...

Semi-Final 1: Michael van Gerwen (1/5) v Rob Cross (7/2)

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD

  • Overall: 10-2
  • 2018 Premier League meetings
    MVG 7-2 Cross - Night 1 (Click for report & stats)
    Cross 2-7 MVG - Night 15 (Click for report & stats)
  • Other TV major meetings
    MVG 5-6 Cross (sets) - World Champ SF, Dec '17
    MVG 16-13 Cross - Grand Slam of Darts QF, Nov '17
    MVG 5-4 Cross - Grand Slam of Darts Groups, Nov '17
    MVG 10-4 Cross - World Series of Darts Finals QF, Nov '17
    MVG 11-7 Cross - European Championship Final, Oct '17
    MVG 9-5 Cross - UK Open last 32, March '16

PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS 2018 STATS

  • League Position: First - Fourth
  • Matches Won/Lost/Drawn: MVG 11-4-1 Cross 8-5-3
  • Legs Won/Lost: 103/64 - 87/82
  • 3-dart Average: 103.56 - 97.33
  • 180s: 56 - 54
  • 100+ checkouts: 19 - 11
  • Highest checkout: 170 - 144
  • Checkout %: 45.37% (103/227) - 44.85% (87/194)

(Scroll down for semi-final 2 stats)

Michael van Gerwen faces Rob Cross in the first semi-final
Michael van Gerwen faces Rob Cross in the first semi-final

Semi-Final 2: Michael Smith (2/1) v Gary Anderson (2/5)

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD

  • Overall: 3-9
  • 2018 Premier League meetings
    Anderson 5-7 Smith - Night 1 (Click here for report & stats)
    Smith 2-7 Anderson - Night 12 (Click here for report & stats)
  • Other TV major meetings
    Anderson 10-6 Smith - Grand Slam of Darts L16, Nov '17
    Anderson 10-5 Smith - Champions League of Darts Gp, Sept '16

PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS 2018 STATS

  • League Position: Second - Third
  • Matches Won/Lost/Drawn: Smith 9-5-2 Anderson 8-5-3
  • Legs Won/Lost: 90/66 - 95/80
  • 3-dart Average: 95.21 - 99.11
  • 180s: 41 - 57
  • 100+ checkouts: 10 - 17
  • Highest checkout: 160 - 170
  • Checkout %: 42.45% (90/212) - 42.04% (95/226)
Gary Anderson faces Michael Smith in the second semi-final
Gary Anderson faces Michael Smith in the second semi-final

1855: Nobody has hit more 100+ checkouts in this season's Premier League than Michael van Gerwen (19) although Gary Anderson ran him close with 17.

The pair both managed the big fish of the 170 during a memorable campaign and they can be found in this cracking little compilation.

1850: MVG and Cross have had so many amazing matches in their relatively short history, and we should have known what was to come when they met for the first time in 2016...

1845: There's no harm reminding ourselves of that moment at the Ally Pally...

1830: Welcome to live coverage of the Premier League Darts Play-Offs with me Chris Hammer, as the four surviving players battle it out for one of the biggest prizes in the sport.

A fresh-looking line-up of 10 players - minus Phil Taylor for the first time in the competition's 13-year history - began their journeys at the start of February in Dublin, with four debutants hoping to make their mark.

Seventeen weeks later, only one of those is still here but it just so happens to be world champion Rob Cross, who recovered so well from a nightmare baptism of fire which saw him lose two matches.

In tonight's opening semi-final, Voltage faces the man he so famously defeated in the last four of his triumphant debut World Championship - Michael van Gerwen - but unsurprisingly he's the underdog once again at 7/2.

The rampant world number one (1/5 to beat Cross) has never lost a semi-final here having reached the last five finals and tonight he has burning ambitions to lift the trophy for a fourth time.

MVG also defeated Cross 7-2 in both of their Premier League meetings this season, so it will take a bold call to back a repeat of that Alexandra Palace showdown.

After that titanic battle, it's a clash between the 'mentor' and his 'protege' as two-time winner Gary Anderson (2/5) faces the 80/1 pre-tournament outsider Michael Smith (2/1), who finished a highly-impressive second in the regular season.

Before we continue our build up for tonight, here's our last year's unforgettable final concluded...

If we get that kind of drama tonight, we're in for a treat!

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