2024 BETMGM PREMIER LEAGUE – NIGHT TWO PREVIEW

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Michael Smith will aim to extend his lead at the top of the BetMGM Premier League table on Thursday, as darts’ biggest roadshow visits Berlin on Night Two.

Smith swept aside home favourite Gerwyn Price to triumph on Night One in Cardiff, and the pair will renew their rivalry at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, as they lock horns in the evening’s second quarter-final.

2023 World Champion Smith crashed in five 180s to dispatch Price in last week’s decider, having earlier edged out reigning champion Michael van Gerwen and teenage sensation Luke Littler in last-leg shoot-outs.

“Winning is winning, and I love to do it!” insisted Smith, who enjoyed a welcome return to winning ways in the Welsh capital.

“There are still plenty of things to work on, but to get five points on the opening night is always nice!

“I sent out a statement saying I know how to win – even if I’m struggling, I can still take out important shots and put everything together at the right time.

“I’ve got momentum going into Night Two, and there’s no pressure on me to chase points.”

The winner of Smith and Price’s latest showdown will advance to a semi-final clash against Van Gerwen or World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall, who go head-to-head in the evening’s opener.

Van Gerwen’s bid for a record-extending eighth Premier League crown began with a quarter-final defeat to Smith on Night One, while Aspinall succumbed to Price at the same stage.

Aspinall fought his way through to the semi-finals of last weekend’s Masters before losing out to an inspired Stephen Bunting, who then stunned Van Gerwen to clinch the title.

Dutch superstar Van Gerwen conceded just ten legs in his opening three matches in Milton Keynes, only to be denied a sixth Masters crown by the Merseyside man.

“There is lots more to come from me,” insisted the three-time World Champion, who lifted the Dutch Darts Masters on home soil in Den Bosch last month.

“I was a little shaky the whole game against Michael [Smith], and this just shouldn’t happen to me. Simple as that.

“I am not in form yet. I’m still struggling here and there, and I know I can do a lot better.

“You have to perform at the right moments. I have a lot to gain, but you have to work hard for it.”

Teenage sensation Littler will also headline Night Two in the German capital, as the 17-year-old faces 2019 runner-up Rob Cross in a repeat of January’s World Championship semi-final.

Littler produced back-to-back ton-plus averages on debut last Thursday, progressing to the semi-finals alongside Cross, who also claimed a two-point haul on his return to the Premier League fold.

Warrington wonderkid Littler averaged 106 to demolish Cross at Alexandra Palace last month, and the 2018 World Champion was full of praise for the young star ahead of their latest meeting.

“Luke is an amazing kid but I still want to beat him,” declared Cross, who defeated Peter Wright in his Cardiff quarter-final.

“I genuinely don’t think any of the more experienced guys like myself, Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price or Peter Wright actually think of him as a 17-year-old teenager.

“We just see him as someone we have to beat on the stage. He conducts himself brilliantly, he acts like he’s been around the sport for years the way he handles the pressure and the media.

“It’s a big match for both of us. My doubles cost me big time in Cardiff. My scoring has been the best of my career. So if I sort the finishing, I’ll be dangerous.”

In the evening’s other-quarter-final tie, World Champion Luke Humphries will play Scottish veteran Wright, with both players bidding to open their Premier League accounts in 2024.

Wright was below-par in his quarter-final defeat to Cross in Cardiff, although the two-time World Champion is in defiant mood ahead of his tussle against the world number one.

“I could have quite easily said I’m retiring after the World Championship,” admitted Wright, a Premier League runner-up in 2017.

“There’s hunger and fight. I’ve not retired. I’m not rolling over. There’s loads to come this year. I will win loads of titles.

“I played poorly last week, but I was so nervous. I was trying a few things behind the scenes and I was shaking.

“I’ve always got on well with Luke, and I respect all the practice he’s done and the weight he has lost. He has shown dedication which shows other players that if you do that, you can get results too.”

The 2024 BetMGM Premier League will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.

2024 BetMGM Premier League

Night Two – Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin

Thursday February 8

Quarter-Finals

Nathan Aspinall v Michael van Gerwen

Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price

Luke Littler v Rob Cross

Luke Humphries v Peter Wright

Semi-Finals

Aspinall/Van Gerwen v Smith/Price

Littler/Cross v Humphries/Wright

Final

Aspinall/Van Gerwen/Smith/Price v Littler/Cross/Humphries/Wright

Photos credit Kieran Cleeves/PDC

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