VAN GERWEN EDGES AN ABSOLUTE THRILLER

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VAN GERWEN OVERCOMES LITTLER TO TRIUMPH IN BERLIN

Michael van Gerwen survived two match darts to edge out Luke Littler and claim the Night Two title on a thrilling night of BetMGM Premier League action in Berlin.

Reigning champion Van Gerwen produced a trio of ton-plus averages to triumph in the German capital, as the Dutch superstar ignited his bid for a record-extending eighth crown in darts’ biggest roadshow.

Van Gerwen moved through to Thursday’s Night Two showpiece with hard-fought wins over Nathan Aspinall and Night One winner Michael Smith, before surviving a late scare to overcome Littler.

Van Gerwen reeled off five consecutive legs from 4-1 adrift to see off Aspinall in the quarter-finals, after fending off a blistering early barrage from the World Matchplay champion.

The Dutch superstar then edged out table-topper Smith in the semi-finals, producing an 11-darter in the decider to avenge his defeat to the St Helens star seven days ago.

Van Gerwen also had to overturn an early deficit against Littler, who raced into a 2-0 lead with legs of 12 and 14 darts in his first nightly final as a Premier League player.

The three-time World Champion responded with a three-leg burst to seize the initiative, pinning double six before following up a 13-dart break with an 11-dart hold as his average climbed above 113.

The pair then exchanged five consecutive holds as Littler forced a decider, and the teenager threatened to complete a famous victory after producing successive visits of 180 and 128 to leave 80 after 12 darts.

However, the 17-year-old spurned two darts at double ten to prevail at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, and Van Gerwen capitalised by pinning double four with his last dart to claim the maximum five points.

“To have games like this against Luke Littler is always good,” reflected Van Gerwen, who moves up to second in the embryonic Premier League table.

“I think it was a fantastic night for darts, and I’m really pleased with my own performance today.

“I played well, especially in the important moments, and I was able to keep the pressure on my opponents.

“Sometimes my energy levels in certain games hasn’t been great, so you need to find solutions, and this is a key moment for me today.

“I feel good, I feel comfortable, but there is more to come.”

Littler was unable to make it a hat-trick of deciding-leg wins in Berlin, having also won through high-quality encounters against Rob Cross and Luke Humphries.

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The Warrington wonderkid averaged 104 and converted two ton-plus checkouts to overcome Cross in the last eight, in a repeat of their World Championship semi-final last month.

The World Youth Champion then celebrated a third straight victory over Humphries in the semi-finals, defying a 103 average from the world number one to retain his place in the top four.

Earlier in the night, Humphries opened his Premier League account with a 6-4 success against an improved Peter Wright, averaging 103 and wrapping up victory with an 11-darter.

In the evening’s other quarter-final, Smith crashed in seven 180s as he recovered from 3-0 down to stun Gerwyn Price in a repeat of their Night One decider.

The contest also saw both players produce 170 checkouts in the same match for only the second time in Premier League history, after the pair also achieved the feat in the 2019 tournament.

The BetMGM Premier League continues on Thursday February 15, as Van Gerwen takes on Scottish number one Peter Wright at the OVO Hydro in Glasgow.

Elsewhere, Littler takes on Price, Humphries meets Aspinall, while Cross and Smith lock horns in the Night Three opener.

2024 BetMGM Premier League

Night Two – Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin

Thursday February 8

Quarter-Finals

Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Nathan Aspinall

Michael Smith 6-5 Gerwyn Price

Luke Littler 6-5 Rob Cross

Luke Humphries 6-4 Peter Wright

Semi-Finals

Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Michael Smith

Luke Littler 6-5 Luke Humphries

Final

Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Luke Littler

 PointsNights WonMatches Won+/-Legs WonLWAT
Michael Smith714+62910
Michael van Gerwen513+3238
Luke Littler503+4286
Gerwyn Price302+1197
Rob Cross201-2132
Luke Humphries201-3133
Nathan Aspinall000-483
Peter Wright000-571

Night Three – OVO Hydro, Glasgow

Thursday February 15

Quarter-Finals

Rob Cross v Michael Smith

Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright

Nathan Aspinall v Luke Humphries

Gerwyn Price v Luke Littler

Photos credit PDC

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