SMITH SEALS PLAY-OFF QUALIFICATION WITH SHEFFIELD SUCCESS

Michael Smith booked his place in the BetMGM Premier League Play-Offs after celebrating his second nightly victory of the season in Sheffield on Thursday.

Night 16 of the darting roadshow saw the final night of league phase action take place at the Utilita Arena, as Smith claimed the spoils to clinch the last remaining place in next week’s Play-Offs.

Nathan Aspinall and Smith were embroiled in a straight shoot-out for qualification, with Luke Littler, Luke Humphries and Michael van Gerwen already assured of their spots at London’s O2.

The St Helens star produced a devastating display of finishing to topple Aspinall in their winner-takes-all quarter-final, converting successive 136 and 132 finishes in the closing stages of his 6-3 victory.

Smith then booked his place in the Night 16 showpiece with a deciding-leg victory over Littler, rallying from 4-1 down to record his fifth win over the teenager in seven Premier League matches.

The 33-year-old also fought back from 3-1 down to topple Humphries in Thursday’s decider, winning five straight legs to pocket the £10,000 winner’s prize.

Humphries fired in a stunning 170 checkout in leg four to establish an early buffer, although Smith replied with a brilliant 140 finish, before landing legs of 12, 14, 13 and 14 darts to prevail with a ton-plus average.

“To qualify and end the season with a win, it feels great,” reflected Smith, who will play Littler in the semi-finals next week.

“I was literally drained after beating Nathan. I was really emotional because he’s one of my best friends, but I had a job to do tonight.

“I know I won the first week [in Cardiff], but to sign off with another one, I’m going into The O2 with a little bit of confidence.

“I’m really looking forward to next week. I know I’ve got a good record against Luke, but it doesn’t matter now.

“This is a different atmosphere, and it feels like a different tournament almost. You have to bring your best game, and hopefully I can bring some good form into next week.”

Humphries fell short in his bid for back-to-back nightly wins, as he aimed to become the first player to record five nightly wins in a single season since the current format was introduced in 2022.

The 29-year-old defied a laboured start to defeat Gerwyn Price 6-4 in the quarter-finals, winning five of the last six legs to set up a showdown against Van Gerwen.

The world number one then put in a majestic display to topple the Dutchman in the last four, averaging 104 and pinning six of his eight attempts at double in the process.

Earlier in the night, Van Gerwen cemented third spot with a superb comeback win over Rob Cross, overturning a 4-1 deficit with a run of five straight legs to prevail with a 105 average.

In the evening’s opening quarter-final, Littler guaranteed top spot with a battling 6-4 success against Peter Wright, conjuring up an outrageous 120 checkout on his way to victory.

Littler joins Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen and Glen Durrant in topping the league phase on debut, and his 40-point haul matched Jonny Clayton’s tally from the 2022 season.

The BetMGM Premier League Play-Offs take place at The O2 in London next Thursday, as the top four compete for the £275,000 top prize in the capital.

Table-topper Littler will play 2018 runner-up Smith in the opening semi-final, before World Champion Humphries takes on reigning champion Van Gerwen.

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 16 – Utilita Arena, Sheffield

Thursday May 16

Quarter-Finals

Luke Littler 6-4 Peter Wright

Michael Smith 6-3 Nathan Aspinall

Luke Humphries 6-4 Gerwyn Price

Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Rob Cross

Semi-Finals

Michael Smith 6-5 Luke Littler

Luke Humphries 6-3 Michael van Gerwen

Final

Michael Smith 6-3 Luke Humphries

 PointsNights WonMatches Won+/-Legs WonLWAT
Luke Littler40423+3018363
Luke Humphries36420+4016966
Michael van Gerwen29417+814453
Michael Smith29217-214845
Nathan Aspinall25215+414347
Rob Cross17010-1511534
Gerwyn Price1207-279529
Peter Wright402-436118

Play-Offs, London, The O2

Thursday May 23

Semi-Finals

Luke Littler v Michael Smith

Luke Humphries v Michael van Gerwen

Final

Littler/Smith v Humphries/Van Gerwen

BetMGM Odds

Winner Odds

6/4 Luke Humphries

7/4 Luke Littler

7/2 Michael van Gerwen

9/2 Michael Smith

Semi-Final Match Odds

12/25 Luke Littler v Michael Smith 8/5

12/25 Luke Humphries v Michael van Gerwen 8/5

Photos credit Simon O’Connor/PDC

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