How Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis reached the Premier League Darts play-offs
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 19/05/16 8:21pm
The world's 10 best players have been whittled down to four so it is time to remember why Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis deserve their places in the Premier League Darts play-offs, which take place at The O2 on Thursday, live on Sky Sports.
Michael van Gerwen
It seems a long time ago that Van Gerwen started the season with a 4-7 defeat to James Wade in Leeds and perhaps therein lies the secret to defeating the mighty Dutchman.
Back-to-back wins over fellow semi-finalists Anderson and Lewis, in Newcastle and Dublin respectively, were followed by a 7-1 thrashing of Michael Smith that yielded a 123 average, the highest in televised history.
He stormed to the top of the league with a 7-2 win against Peter Wright in Exeter that sparked debate about whether he is already the greatest player in the history of darts. A top-of-the-table clash against Taylor in Glasgow saw Van Gerwen relinquish a 5-1 lead to draw 6-6.
He made it three draws in a row after Robert Thornton and Raymond van Barneveld caused him to wobble in Liverpool and Cardiff, handing top spot to Taylor.
He drew with Anderson then beat Lewis to solidify his play-off push before a 7-1 win against Wade put him top of the league. Even missing a nine-darter with his final arrow could not prevent Van Gerwen picking up maximum points against Van Barneveld in Manchester.
Van Gerwen finished the regular season in No 1 spot on leg-difference after besting Taylor 7-5 in his home country of the Netherlands.
A thumping 2-7 loss on the opening night to Van Barneveld was not what the doctor ordered, but Taylor rebounded with wins against Wade in Newcastle and Anderson in Dublin. The 16-time world champion proved he meant business with a whitewash over Thornton in the sixth week.
Taylor brilliantly recovered from 5-1 down to Van Gerwen in Glasgow to snatch a draw, then was typically ruthless as he eliminated Michael Smith from the tournament with a 7-5 win on Judgement Night.
He then dispatched Anderson 7-3 in Sheffield before extending his lead at the top of the table to five points with a 7-5 victory over long-time rival Van Barneveld in Belfast.
A 7-4 loss to Wright never caused a major blip and Taylor responded with a 7-2 thrashing over fellow semi-finalist Lewis before losing to Van Gerwen in Rotterdam, resulting in a second-placed finish.
Anderson's Premier League title defence began bizarrely as he was ruled out of the opening night due to illness, meaning he debuted a week late with a 7-3 loss to Van Gerwen in Newcastle before losing 7-4 to Taylor in Dublin.
The Flying Scotsman finally started putting points on the board before a bumper night in Glasgow, spurred on by his compatriots, resulted in two wins over Lewis and Wright.
He even picked up a point despite oddly losing count against Wade in Cardiff as the play-offs began to present themselves. A second loss of the season to Taylor was followed by a thrilling 6-6 draw with Van Gerwen in Belfast.
Needing to scrap to stay ahead of the chasing pack, Anderson edged past Van Barneveld before drawing with Wade to confirm his inclusion. A defeat on the final day to Lewis did nothing to damage Anderson's third-place finish.
The Stoke thrower started with back-to-back wins against Smith and Dave Chisnall, who would eventually be eliminated on Judgement Night, but ran out of ideas in a third-week loss to Van Gerwen.
Further defeats to Taylor, Wright and Anderson forced Lewis to scramble around mid-table but he responded with a much-needed win against Van Barneveld in Liverpool.
He eventually struck the most eye-catching moment of the season with a nine-darter against Wade in Belfast en route to a 7-5 win that put him in the driver's seat for fourth-place.
A final night 7-2 win against Anderson confirmed his play-off spot - the result is the only time that Lewis has beaten any of his top four rivals so far this season.
Watch the Premier League Darts play-offs from The O2 Arena on Thursday at 7pm, Sky Sports 2 HD.