Results, review and highlights from night one of the Premier League Darts in Newcastle, as Michael van Gerwen beat Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price got his maiden win.
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MVG wins Smith rematch
Michael van Gerwen won his World Championship final rematch with Michael Smith 7-5 as he got his Premier League Darts campaign off to a winning start.
The world number one, who lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy for the third time on New Year's Day before winning a fifth successive Masters on Sunday, averaged 105, hit five 180s and pinned seven of his 12 attempts at doubles in a sparkling display.
However, although Smith averaged 10 points lower with 95 and hit three fewer maximums, he still managed to hang in there for much of the match and hit the highest checkout of the match with a 150.
Bully Boy's finish of 93 in the opening leg broke the MVG throw but the world number one quickly wiped that lead out with a 12-darter while another break in the sixth saw him go 4-2 up.
Smith broke back to stay alive before his show-stopping 150 levelled matters but at 5-5 MVG took out 56 under pressure, with his opponent waiting on 62, before sprinting away with an 11-darter in the final leg of the match.
"I was really glad I managed to win that last leg because I wouldn't have been happy with a draw," said Van Gerwen. "We played some phenomenal legs and some not so good legs, so I have things to work on to improve over the next few weeks.
"Even without Gary Anderson this is going to be a very tough season and to beat a great player in Michael in my first game is the best way to start."
Price defies the boos
Gerwyn Price claimed his first ever Premier League Darts victory at the 10th attempt with an impressive 7-4 victory over Daryl Gurney in Newcastle.
The Iceman only managed two draws during his awful debut campaign, which resulted in relegation at Judgement Night, but got his second season up and running thanks to a fine average of 104.
Price admitted to us on Wednesday that he felt like he has to play his 'B Game' in the wake of the huge fine and suspended sentence handed to him by the Darts Regulation Authority for his conduct during last November's Grand Slam of Darts final against Gary Anderson - but this performance showed the fire had returned, albeit above board.
Despite getting off to a slow start and trailing 2-0, the Welshman roared back with five legs on the bounce before a 72 checkout when leading 5-3 guaranteed him a point.
Players Championship Finals winner Gurney kept his faint hopes alive by taking the next when Price seemed to be stuttering near the finish line but he got the job done in the next, and even allowed himself a trademark celebration.
The Iceman hit six 180s compared to Gurney's zero while he hit seven of his 16 darts at doubles as his opponent missed seven of his.
"Last year was a daunting experience for me, so this year I needed to get off to a good start," said Price. "To play the way I did today, with the crowd on my back and everything that's gone on I'm proud of myself and I hope this can be the start of a good campaign for me."
Barney's losing start to farewell tour
Raymond van Barneveld's chance of a triumphant Premier League farewell suffered an early blow when losing his opening match 7-4 to James Wade.
The first six legs went with throw before the Dutch legend claimed the first break with a 14-darter as his loyal army of supporters sensed victory.
"I was so nervous tonight, it felt like my first day at school all over again," said Wade. "I'm happy with the result and a lot of how I played, I felt a bit unlucky to be a break down but I came on strong at the end and it's nice to get off to a winning start."
Chris Dobey was the first of the nine 'Premier League Contenders' to take to the stage this season and he won the final leg of his match with Mensur Suljovic to rescue a draw - despite leading 5-1 in front of his home fans.
Due to Gary Anderson's injury-enforced absence, nine players will be taking it in turns to replace the Flying Scotsman and while it's 'just' an experience builder for them, points are on the line for their opponents.
Grand Slam of Darts quarter-finalist Dobey came into the clash as a 3/1 outsider despite his exploits at the recent World Championship, where he was beaten by Anderson in a fourth-round thriller, but the crowed roared him on and he responded with a 113 checkout in the opening leg.
He thrilled the fans with a string of 180s as he stormed four legs clear but a shellshocked Suljovic bounced back by winning the next five thanks to heavy scoring of his own and clinical finishing.
But the Austrian's hopes of victory were dashed when he missed an attempt at double 18 before Dobey punished him by pinning two 16s with his last dart in hand.
Suljovic finished with the slightly higher average of 100.99 compared to Dobey's 98.52 but both players hit six doubles from 17 attempts and Hollywood edged the maximums 6-5.
"It was a dream come true to play in front of that crowd tonight, I felt like Alan Shearer at one point!" said Dobey. "If it wasn't for the fans spurring me on I could've easily thrown that one away and it was a great feeling to get the draw in the end.
"This was an amazing opportunity and now I want more of this, which means putting the hard work in on the ProTour and hopefully more chances will come for me in the future."
Cross makes a point
Rob Cross punished Peter Wright's missed match dart in the final leg of the night as he earned a 6-6 draw in a highly enjoyable clash in which both players averaged over 100.
Voltage, who reached Finals night in his debut campaign last year, raced into an early 3-1 lead as he looked to put a disappointing second half of 2018 behind him but Wright won three legs on the trot - including a 100 checkout and an 11-darter - to edge ahead.
The next five legs went with throw to ensure the spoils were shared.
Snakebite is also looking to silence the circling doubters following his below-par year and he'll be quietly impressed with a display which saw him average 101.56, hit three 180s and pin six of 11 darts at doubles. By contrast, Voltage averaged 103.57, hit two maximums and hit six of his 14 double attempts.
Premier League Darts Table
- Wade P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 LegD +3 Pts 2
- Price P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 LegD +3 Pts 2
- MVG P 1 W 1 D 0 L 0 LegD +2 Pts 2
- Suljovic P 1 W 0 D 1 L 0 LegD 0 Pts 1
- Cross P 1 W 0 D 1 L 0 LegD 0 Pts 1
- Wright P 1 W 0 D 1 L 0 LegD 0 Pts 1
- Smith P 1 W 0 D 0 L 1 LegD -2 Pts 0
- Gurney P 1 W 0 D 0 L 1 LegD -3 Pts 0
- Van Barneveld P 1 W 0 D 0 L 1 LegD -3 Pts 0
Night one results & next week's fixtures
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- WEEKLY GUEST PLAYERS IN BOLD
Night 1, February 7
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
- James Wade 7-4 Raymond van Barneveld
- Gerwyn Price 7-4 Daryl Gurney
- Chris Dobey 6-6 Mensur Suljovic
- Michael van Gerwen 7-5 Michael Smith
- Peter Wright 6-6 Rob Cross
Night 2, February 14
SSE Hydro, Glasgow
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)
- Peter Wright v Michael Smith
- Rob Cross v James Wade
- Raymond van Barneveld v Gerwen Price
- Daryl Gurney v Glen Durrant
- Mensur Suljovic v Michael van Gerwen
Tickets: 0844 395 4000 or click here