Premier League Darts Finals night: Tips, predictions, odds & stats ahead of Thursday's Play-Offs

Last Updated May 17 2018, 20:22Darts
Who will win the Premier League Darts title?
Who will win the Premier League Darts title?

Chris Hammer brings you his expert preview and verdict ahead of the Premier League Darts Finals night, complete with season statistics and head-to-head records.

So this is it.

After a 15-night season of darting drama, which all began with 10 hopefuls in Dublin at the start of February, we are down to the final four.

You could have easily predicted three of them would be at the O2 in Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Rob Cross but in Michael Smith we have an 80/1 pre-tournament outsider who finally come of age on the biggest stage.

Defending champion MVG is chasing a fourth Premier League title and he'll first renew his rivalry with world championship conqueror Rob Cross in the first semi-final before Anderson takes on his protege in the other. The winners of each will then do battle for the title in a best-of-21-legs showdown.

Here, our darts expert Chris Hammer brings you pretty much all you need to know including his own words of wisdom, stats from the season and head-to-head records - while he also has a selection of recommended bets (including two tips of 14/1 and more) at the bottom of the article.

Premier League Darts Finals Night: The Play-Offs

When? Thursday, May 17 at 7pm
Where? London's O2 Arena
TV coverage: Sky Sports Main Event (1900 GMT)
Semi-Finals: MVG v Cross & Smith v Anderson (Best of 19 legs)
Final: Best of 21 legs
Top prize: £250,000
Sky Bet Title Odds: MVG (1/2), Anderson (4/1), Cross (7/1), Smith (14/1)

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

Scroll down for more

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)

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

PREVIEW & PREDICTION

Those of you who listened to the opening Sporting Life Darts Podcast of the season won't be surprised to know I still like to dine out on tipping Rob Cross to win the world championship.

Five months on from their epic semi-final at Alexandra Palace, Voltage meets MVG in the last four of arguably the second biggest tournament in darts and it would be deemed another bold call to back him again.

Not least because MVG has never lost a Premier League semi-final and is bidding to reach a sixth successive final.

But you know what? I'm going to do it.

Sure, their head-to-head record doesn't make good reading for Cross but he overcame that same factor under ultimate pressure at the Ally Pally even though he had the mental block of never previously beating him on TV. Let alone in front of millions of viewers worldwide.

He managed this for these key reasons.

1. His extraordinary ability in all areas of the game.

2. His naturally unfazed demeanour. If you watched those other defeats, they weren't really bottle jobs. Many of them were just superb matches that MVG won rather than Cross lost.

3. MVG is still only human and can buckle under pressure - albeit less than most!

The quickest rising star of darts also has a great team around him - to the extent he often refers to his own success as "we". He's worked really hard on peaking for the big moments, which he's backed up by reaching four televised semi-finals in just over one season as a pro.

The pair have remarkably only met twice this season in all competitions, both of which in the Premier League, and fair enough MVG got some measure of revenge with two comprehensive 7-2 wins.

Believe you me, Cross won't care about those now and he won't even care about having to face MVG in the semi-finals. In a way, it's probably easier to beat him when a trophy isn't tantalisingly close - as Peter Wright found out last year in unforgettable circumstances.

We shouldn't ignore the Englishman withdrew from the Dutch Darts Masters at the weekend with a sternum problem but he's rested up and undergone a course of medication. He says he's feeling fine now.

MVG has won a remarkable 11 tournaments on tour this season already and has even expressed his desire to eclipse the 26 he managed two years ago but if I call this right, this trophy won't be among them.

Two defeats to a disappointing Peter Wright, including one in Rotterdam, one to Gary Anderson last week and another against his great Dutch rival in their homeland showed his vulnerabilities that do exist.

Backing Cross to win at 7/2 is good enough to me without throwing in any extras.

That said, at risk of sounding a bit mug-punterish, there's going to be a hell of a lot of 180s, with the hair hitting over 100 almost equally shared between them during the regular season. If this match goes far then both managing six or more apiece at 3/1 is a steal.

There are plenty more specials to choose from and if you want some pointers on those, check out three-time world champion John Part's predictions even though he ultimately disagrees with me!

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 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

PREVIEW & PREDICTION

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'.

Bursting with an abundance of talent that we've all known about since 'that' victory over Phil Taylor in the 2013 World Championship at the age of just 22, we've been waiting a while for Bully Boy to beat up the world's elite on a regular basis.

And boy hasn't he done just that this year?

Smith was 80/1 for glory ahead of his return to the Premier League line-up following his absence in 2017 having finished bottom 12 months earlier - but those odds were an insult.

I'm not just saying that with the benefit of hindsight - the signs were there. He came within a whisker of beating Cross in their world championship humdinger which would have obviously changed the course of history. And who knows, Smith may have gone on to do what few predicted Voltage would?

Everyone used to wax lyrical about Smith being a 180 machine but it's testament to his all-round game improvement that his maximum count for the Premier League campaign is just 41, which ranks him seventh out of the eight players who survived Judgement Night.

His tournament average is also a 'mediocre' 95.21 but that didn't stop him handing out plenty of sound beatings this season including a 7-0 rout of Raymond van Barneveld while his legs difference of +24 was comfortably the second best. Gary Anderson and Rob Cross were +15 and +5 respectively with high 90s averages.

What does that tell you? His timing has been impeccable throughout the season. And, as the pros and pundits keep reminding us, timing is everything.

If Smith can find another gear on his 180s and scoring to compliment his lethal finishing and timing, he'll be formidable.

The first objective is beating his mentor and close friend for the second time in a televised tournament, having managed it for the first time on opening night in Dublin.

Although the Flying Scotsman was suffering from injury at the time, Smith battled well to come from 5-1 down for a 7-5 victory, albeit relying on Anderson's double troubles.

It built his confidence for the rest of the campaign and although he suffered a heavy defeat to the man who describes Smith as being like "an adopted son" in Rotterdam, he recovered from that setback to finish firmly in second.

A clear danger is Anderson's ability to go turbo - like in the following clip from their stunning clash at last year's Grand Slam of Darts.

Nevertheless, I'm going with Bully Boy to make a huge breakthrough in his career and win the match at 2/1.

The best bet for this clash however is over 10.5 180s at a generous 6/5. I am tempted by the both players to hit 6+ each at 4/1 but as previously mentioned, Smith hasn't been too prolific on those and the target of 11 will probably be most served by Anderson.

So who will win the Premier League Darts title?

I'm calling a Michael Smith v Rob Cross final which would suit Voltage considering he's won seven of their eight previous meetings, including a pair of 7-5 victories in the Premier League.

Both were hard-fought encounters and Bully Boy is getting closer to putting one over on a player I believe he'll end up having a fascinating rivalry over the next decade and beyond.

This talented pair are going to be integral stars in the future of darts so wouldn't it be fitting to see them battle it out for such a prestigious trophy in front of a global audience of millions?

I'm picking Smith at a cracking price of 14/1 for outright glory but if it ends up being another instalment of an MVG v Gary Anderson classic then we're in for a treat.

As myself and John Part discuss with host Dom in the latest Sporting Life Darts Podcast, there isn't going to be a bad final, so my final piece of advice is to call off any plans you may have for Thursday night, put your feet up and enjoy the darts!

Recommended Bets: Premier League Finals Night

1pt Michael Smith to win the Premier League at 14/1 (Sky Bet)

1pt Smith & Cross both to win their semi-finals at 15.79/1 (Marathon Bet)

1pt Cross to beat MVG at 4/1 (General)

1pt Both players to hit 6+ 180s in MVG v Cross at 3/1 (Sky Bet)

1pt Over 10.5 180s in Smith v Anderson at 6/5 (Sky Bet)

CLICK HERE FOR SKY BET'S ODDS ON THE ABOVE SELECTIONS

It's the final Sporting Life Darts Podcast of the Premier League season
Listen to John Part and Chris Hammer discuss the end of season 'Oscars' and predictions for the play-offs

Premier League Darts Regular Season Table

  1. MVG P 16 W 11 D 1 L 4 LegD +43 Pts 23
  2. Smith P 16 W 9 D 2 L 5 LegD +24 Pts 20
  3. Anderson P 16 W 8 D 3 L 5 LegD +15 Pts 19
  4. Cross P 16 W 8 D 3 L 5 LegD +5 Pts 19
  5. Gurney P 16 W 4 D 8 L 4 LegD +1 Pts 16
  6. Barney P 16 W 6 D 4 L 6 LegD -8 Pts 16
  7. Wright P 16 W 4 D 6 L 6 LegD -20 Pts 14
  8. Whitlock P 16 W 5 D 3 L 8 LegD -18 Pts 13
  9. Suljovic P 9 W 2 D 0 L 7 LegD -13 Pts 4
  10. Price P 9 W 0 D 2 L 7 LegD -29 Pts 2

Suljovic and Price were eliminated after Judgement Night

Click here for the full season results, statistics, reports & highlights

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