PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY-OFF BATTLE INTENSIFIES IN LIVERPOOL

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The race for BetMGM Premier League Play-Off qualification continues on Thursday, as darts’ biggest roadshow heads to Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena.

Night 13 of the £1m tournament will see quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final played over the best of 11 legs, with ranking points awarded each night to form the league table from which the top four players will progress to the Play-Offs.

One of Thursday’s stand-out ties will see league leader Luke Humphries take on Night 12 winner Nathan Aspinall in a blockbuster quarter-final, as the reigning World Matchplay champion bids to go back-to-back in Merseyside.

The Stockport star celebrated his second nightly win of the campaign in Rotterdam last Thursday, defeating Peter Wright, Humphries and Michael Smith to move up to third in the table.

Aspinall currently boasts a three-point lead over fifth-placed Smith, as he sets his sights on Play-Off qualification for the third time in four Premier League appearances.

“Last year I missed out [on the Play-Offs] on nightly wins and I was on 24 points,” recalled Aspinall, who also prevailed on Night Five in Exeter.

“We said a few weeks ago 26 points would probably be enough [to make the top four], but now I’m not sure!

“I think it’s fantastic – credit to all the lads. This is the most enjoyable Premier League I’ve been involved in, and there’s still a lot to play for.

“I think the standard has been ridiculous, and I think it’s testament to all of us who are performing week-in, week-out.”

World Champion Humphries returned to the top of the table despite his semi-final exit in Rotterdam, posting a ton-plus average to deny home hero Michael van Gerwen and move above Luke Littler on nights won.

Littler will open proceedings in Liverpool against 2023 runner-up Gerwyn Price, as the pair lock horns for just the third time in this year’s Premier League.

Price edged out the 17-year-old in a captivating quarter-final clash on Night Three in Glasgow, although Littler gained revenge to triumph in the Night Ten decider in Manchester.

The World Youth Champion will be aiming to regain top spot in Liverpool, with Price focusing on preserving his slender Play-Off hopes.

Elsewhere, 2023 World Champion Smith continues his Play-Off push against Rob Cross, who is aiming to halt a seven-match losing run in the competition.

Cross slipped below Price into seventh position following his quarter-final defeat to the Welshman in Rotterdam, while Smith claimed a three-point haul on Dutch soil to continue his bid for a top-four finish.

“Liverpool is always special for me,” claimed St Helens star Smith, who has featured in four nightly finals in 2024.

“I’m really looking forward to it. The fans gave me a great homecoming last year, and hopefully it’s just as good this year.

“It would be nice to get another win under my belt, but I’m just focused on trying to win the two points against Rob tomorrow.

“I feel like my game is in a good place. I know I’m playing well in the first round matches. It’s not quite happening in finals at the minute, but hopefully that changes!”

The evening’s other quarter-final will feature a clash between two Premier League stalwarts, as reigning champion Van Gerwen faces Wright.

Despite his quartet of nightly victories in 2024, Van Gerwen still faces a battle to confirm his top-four status, having qualified for the Play-Offs in ten of the previous 11 Premier League seasons.

Wright, meanwhile, remains rooted to the foot of the table with just four points to his name, although he has won his last two meetings with the Dutchman, on the European Tour and ProTour respectively.

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 13 – M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool

Thursday April 25

Quarter-Finals

Luke Littler v Gerwyn Price

Luke Humphries v Nathan Aspinall

Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen

Michael Smith v Rob Cross

Semi-Finals

Littler/Price v Humphries/Aspinall

Wright/Van Gerwen v Smith/Cross

Final

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

Photos credit Kelly Deckers/PDC

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