Premier League Darts: Good week, bad week
Coverage of the Premier League continues on Thursday, February 13 in Nottingham at 7pm on Sky Sports Action
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 11/02/20 2:36pm
Each week during the 2020 Premier League of Darts season, we review the action and reflect on the winners and losers.
Good week for...
Newcomers on a high
After featuring as 'Contenders' in 2019, Nathan Aspinall and Glen Durrant had earned their stripes at the top level and were rewarded with Premier League berths outright this year.
As a result, there were plenty of eyeballs on the duo in Aberdeen, as they were making their 'full' debuts.
They certainly didn't disappoint.
The Asp displayed clinical arrows at times to see off crowd favourite John Henderson, with his 170 finish the pick of a ruthless display. The 28-year-old followed it up with his fourth PDC title on Sunday, during which he beat Peter Wright with a 117.5 average and a nine-dart finish thrown in.
Meanwhile, Duzza once again showed why he's one of the best finishers on the planet as his 78% on doubles was the difference, seeing off Michael Smith 7-3 in the opening game of the night.
Judging by their opening salvos, the English duo aren't just making up the numbers in the nine-strong field.
MVG's new tools
Much was made of the world number one's transfer to Winmau, as many commentators suggested there would be a significant bedding-in period as the Dutchman adjusted to his new arrows.
This was reflected at the season-opening Masters tournament, where he fell in the first round to Jonny Clayton.
"Sometimes... a little bit of doubt creeps into your head - 'new darts, new darts'," Colin Lloyd said on the Darts Show Podcast last week. "You don't want it to go in there but it does go in there and sometimes there's that little wayward dart."
However, when presented with a chance to make a statement on Thursday night, he seized the opportunity with both hands.
MVG met Peter Wright on the oche for the first time since the World Championship final, and it didn't disappoint. Snakebite took the fight to the reigning champ, but the Dutchman averaged 104 in a 7-5 victory.
New darts? No problem.
'Challengers' format proving a hit
So great was the success of last year's novel format that it was continued for 2020. And it's not difficult to see why it's such a hit.
Hometown hero Henderson was given a rapturous reception at P&J Live - bagpipes, drums, 7,500 adulating fans. It all came together for an electric atmosphere.
On this week's stop at Nottingham, Fallon Sherrock will return to the limelight following her historic run at the World Championship. Then it's the turn of Jonny Clayton in Cardiff, before Willie O'Connor stars in front of the Irish crowd in Dublin.
Huge excitement, and the 'Challengers' innovation keeps the competition fresh.
Barry Hearn and Co are certainly onto a winning formula.
Work to do...
Following his heartache in the Masters final where he missed three match darts against Peter Wright, Smith would have been looking to pick himself off the canvas.
However, in truth he barely landed a punch against Durrant.
Timing was key, and the Bully Boy missed the big darts when it mattered most on the Aberdeen oche.
Did the disappointment of losing a fifth consecutive televised final impact his performance four days later? There's no doubting the St Helens thrower's ability, but he knows he has room to improve when it comes to consistency and the mental side of the game.
He'll be hoping to bounce back on Thursday night when he faces Gerwyn Price.
Night Two Fixtures, Nottingham
|Rob Cross v Nathan Aspinall|
|Gerwyn Price v Michael Smith|
|Gary Anderson v Peter Wright|
|Glen Durrant v Fallon Sherrock|
|Daryl Gurney v Michael van Gerwen|
After a disappointing World Championship campaign in which he exited in the third round, 'Super Chin' is looking for a spark to ignite his form once again. So far in 2020, he is yet to catch fire.
He crashed out of the Masters with a 10-8 first-round loss to Dave Chisnall, fell to Gary Anderson in the Premier League opener and failed to make it past the second round in either of the Players Championship events in Barnsley over the weekend.
The two-time major champion started the Premier League slowly last season, and told the Darts Show Podcast last week of his intentions to fly out of the traps.
If he doesn't get a result against MVG in Nottingham on Thursday, he could find himself playing catch-up.
But Gurney is no stranger to digging out big results when needed most, and is dangerous when written off.
After wowing the Aberdeen crowd in 2019 when he dug deep for a draw with MVG, Hendo would have been hopeful of delivering another big performance on the Premier League stage.
However, he failed to live up to those heights and never settled against Aspinall. His three-dart-average of 81.93 tells you all you need to know about his performance.
Conversely, perhaps the scale of the occasion and the partisan crowd suited his opponent better, as Aspinall fed off the crowd to storm to a 7-3 victory.
Sherrock takes up the mantle as 'Challenger' this week, when she takes on Durrant.
Coverage of the Premier League continues on Thursday, February 13 in Nottingham at 7pm on Sky Sports Action.