Premier League Darts: Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross to discover play-off rivals
Last Updated: 20/05/19 10:24am
The battle to join Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross in the Premier League Darts play-offs will be settled on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Action at 7pm.
James Wade, Mensur Suljovic, Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price are all in contention for the final two spots at next week's finale.
Here is everything you need to know…
Gerwyn Price vs Peter Wright
This is the dream match for play-off chasing Price. Wright is rooted to the bottom of the table with just two wins in 15 attempts.
Price needs to win and hope other results go his way. By playing first, he can put massive pressure on Gurney and Suljovic.
The bad news is that 'Snakebite' has a cracking record against Price, having won 12 out of 16 career meetings. However, Price beat Wright earlier this season in the Premier League and is in philosophical mood ahead of a decisive week.
"At the start of the league I would've taken this position but going back five or six weeks I would've been disappointed for the situation to be out of my hands," said Price.
"Last week's game meant a lot to me, I knew I needed a win or at least a draw and I should've won. But it didn't go my way and I've got to move on now.
"If I don't go through it's still been a brilliant year for me in the Premier League, even though I drew too many games. I'm going to keep being me and playing my own game."
Daryl Gurney vs Michael Smith
Gurney is level on points and leg difference with fourth-placed Suljovic but behind on legs won, and needs to overtake him.
Because Suljovic is playing Van Gerwen, Gurney is arguably the likeliest player to finish fourth. He needs to better Suljovic's result on Thursday.
The lingering concern for Gurney will be Price - they had a bust-up last week but have since apologised to each other.
If Gurney only draws with the already-eliminated Smith, he is liable to be overtaken by Price, who must win.
"For me, that game was the biggest of the season," reflected Gurney. "He was the far better player and probably should have won the game, and I did well to get a draw.
"I think it leads for a very interesting last week, and I know it's going to be a very difficult game against Michael Smith. He is a sleeping giant right now - the most naturally gifted player there is on the circuit," he added.
Michael van Gerwen vs Mensur Suljovic
Suljovic begins the night within the play-off spots but has a nightmare match-up.
He has beaten Van Gerwen, the defending champion, just four out of 16 times. Van Gerwen won when they met earlier in this year's Premier League on Night Two.
The problem for Suljovic is that even a draw, normally a creditable result against Van Gerwen, leaves him open to be overtaken by Gurney or Price who have much more favourable fixtures.
Beating Van Gerwen would obviously guarantee Suljovic's qualification. By the time this match begins he will know Gurney and Price's results so could be pressurised by having to defeat Van Gerwen.
The Dutchman, for his part, is desperate to win the league phase for a seventh consecutive year.
"It would mean a lot if I can finish top," Van Gerwen said. "I know what it takes but I can only blame myself for being in this position because I've lost too many points."
James Wade vs Rob Cross
Wade is currently third, so is in pole position to qualify for next week's play-offs. A draw against Cross will be enough to progress by virtue of his leg difference.
He is well-placed to get the points required. Wade has won five out of 11 matches against Cross, although Cross won their Premier League meeting earlier this season.
The focus for Cross, who begins the night in first position, is on ending Van Gerwen's six-year run of topping the league table heading into the play-offs. A win guarantees that; a draw would be enough if Van Gerwen drops points.
"It would be a real privilege to join Phil and Michael on the list of league phase winners," Cross admitted.
"If it was easy to do then there would be a fair few more players on that list, so I can't take for granted how special it would be."The Premier League continues as we head to the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Thursday, May 16. You can also stay up to date with all the action by following us @SkySportsDarts and get all the latest news, previews and interviews www.skysports.com/darts