HUMPHRIES CLAIMS FIRST NIGHTLY WIN WITH BRIGHTON BRILLIANCE

Luke Humphries produced a trio of brilliant displays to clinch his first nightly victory in the BetMGM Premier League with Night Six success in Brighton.

Despite boasting a tournament average of almost 101, Humphries began the evening in sixth place, but he catapulted himself up to second in the table with a series of scintillating performances by the seaside.

The World Champion conceded just eight legs on his way to victory at The Brighton Centre, landing three consecutive ton-plus averages to secure a five-point haul on the South Coast.

Humphries kicked off Night Six with a resounding 6-2 success against birthday boy Gerwyn Price, reeling off four consecutive legs to advance with a 105 average.

The world number one then produced the performance of the tournament so far to deny Rob Cross in a sensational semi-final, averaging 113.71 on his way to a 6-3 victory.

Humphries landed a trio of 11-darters to register the highest televised average of his career, defying six 180s from Cross to set up a fascinating showdown against Night One winner Michael Smith.

The pair traded holds to kick off the contest, but Humphries took control with a brutal four-leg burst, following up a monstrous 143 checkout with legs of 11, 14 and 14 darts to race into a 5-1 lead.

Smith replied with back-to-back legs to reduce the arrears, although Humphries wasn’t to be denied, converting a clinical 74 kill on double eight to prevail with a 101 average.

“I think it’s probably the best I’ve played and the best I’ve felt since the World Championship,” reflected Humphries, a runner-up at last weekend’s UK Open.

“The UK Open was a massive boost for me. I know I didn’t win it, but my game was in a good place.

“I played well and I came here today and upped my game even more, which is important for me.

“I think after the World Championship, everyone expected me to win everything, which is not going to happen.

“There are so many great players out there, and winning nights like these are fantastic. I’m really proud of the way I’ve played tonight.

“I just love the game to bits, and to be involved in the Premier League is a privilege.

“I feel like I belong here, and hopefully I’m here for a long time in the future.”

Smith, meanwhile, snapped his three-match losing streak with a dramatic deciding-leg win against Peter Wright in the quarter-finals, surviving two match darts to register his first win since Night Two.

The 2023 World Champion then punished a profligate display from Luke Littler to progress to the Night Six finale, landing five 180s to move to within a point of the teenager.

Littler had booked his place in the last four with a hard-fought win over Night Five winner Nathan Aspinall, progressing to the quarter-finals for the fifth time in six weeks.

Elsewhere, Night Five runner-up Cross inflicted another quarter-final defeat on league leader Michael van Gerwen, closing out a convincing 6-2 win to maintain his strong start to the season.

Van Gerwen leads Humphries by three points ahead of Night Seven, with Littler and Cross occupying third and fourth spots respectively.

The BetMGM Premier League continues in Nottingham next Thursday, as Humphries and Smith meet in a repeat of tonight’s showpiece.

Van Gerwen and Littler will renew their rivalry in the quarter-finals, with the Dutchman eyeing a return to winning ways in the East Midlands.

Cross and Aspinall also collide in a repeat of the Night Five decider, while the bottom two lock horns in the evening’s opener, as Wright takes on Price.

2024 BetMGM Premier League

Night Six – The Brighton Centre

Thursday March 7

Quarter-Finals

Luke Humphries 6-2 Gerwyn Price

Rob Cross 6-2 Michael van Gerwen

Luke Littler 6-3 Nathan Aspinall

Michael Smith 6-5 Peter Wright

Semi-Finals

Luke Humphries 6-3 Rob Cross

Michael Smith 6-3 Luke Littler

Final

Luke Humphries 6-3 Michael Smith

 PointsNights WonMatches Won+/-Legs WonLWAT
Michael van Gerwen1539+86422
Luke Humphries1217+136425
Luke Littler1106+46219
Rob Cross1106+25614
Michael Smith101605516
Nathan Aspinall815-24819
Gerwyn Price503-123513
Peter Wright000-13237

Night Seven – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham

Thursday March 14

Quarter-Finals

Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price

Luke Humphries v Michael Smith

Michael van Gerwen v Luke Littler

Rob Cross v Nathan Aspinall

Photo credit Simon O’Connor/PDC

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