VAN GERWEN SINKS LITTLER TO RETURN TO WINNING WAYS IN BIRMINGHAM

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Michael van Gerwen returned to winning ways in the BetMGM Premier League with Night 11 success in Birmingham on Thursday.

Van Gerwen had lost six of his last seven league matches ahead of his arrival in Birmingham, but the Dutchman reignited his campaign with hard-fought wins over Nathan Aspinall, Michael Smith and Luke Littler at the Utilita Arena.

The world number three won four straight legs from 4-2 down to deny Aspinall in a crucial quarter-final clash, aided by a spectacular 152 checkout in the penultimate leg.

Van Gerwen, the reigning Premier League champion, then produced a clinical display to see off Michael Smith in the semi-finals, converting a brace of ton-plus checkouts to set up a decider against Littler.

The teenager had won the pair’s last three meetings, but was punished for a below-par display by a spirited Van Gerwen, who ran out a 6-3 winner to scoop the £10,000 top prize.

Littler led 2-1 following an inauspicious start to the contest, but Van Gerwen responded with a clinical 125 kill, before winning four of the next five legs to secure his fourth nightly win of the season.

“It’s about time,” joked Van Gerwen, who moves up to third, four points adrift of table-topper Littler.

“I have made it a little bit hard for myself, but the most important thing is how you bounce back, and how do you reflect on the last few weeks.

“We all know the last few weeks have not been great for me, but to come back with a win here tonight feels good.

“I had to battle tonight. I had to dig deep. I wasn’t playing my A-game, but this win gives me confidence of course.

“I believe in my own ability. You need to make sure you stay focused and that’s what I’ve done, but there’s still more to come.”

Littler was unable to join Van Gerwen and Luke Humphries in claiming a hat-trick of successive nightly wins, but he moved two points clear at the top of the table after leaving the West Midlands with three points to his name.

The Warrington superstar kicked off his evening with a battling victory against Cross, who slipped to a fifth consecutive quarter-final exit after surrendering a 5-4 cushion.

The 17-year-old then fended off a valiant fightback from Humphries in an absorbing semi-final, averaging 107 and landing five 180s to sink the World Champion, who fought back from 5-2 down to level.

World number one Humphries had returned to winning ways on the Premier League stage in the evening’s opener against Peter Wright, reeling off five straight legs from 4-1 adrift to cement second spot in the table.

In the night’s other quarter-final tie at a sell-out Utilita Arena, Smith denied Gerwyn Price in a high-quality affair, averaging 104 and pinning six of his nine attempts at double to close the gap on fourth-placed Aspinall to a solitary point.

The BetMGM Premier League roadshow rolls into Rotterdam next Thursday, as Van Gerwen makes his return to home soil against Humphries.

Littler and Smith will lock horns in the evening’s opener at Rotterdam Ahoy, while Cross meets Price and Aspinall takes on Wright.

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 11 – Utilita Arena, Birmingham

Thursday April 11

Quarter-Finals

Luke Humphries 6-4 Peter Wright

Luke Littler 6-5 Rob Cross

Michael Smith 6-3 Gerwyn Price

Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Nathan Aspinall

Semi-Finals

Luke Littler 6-5 Luke Humphries

Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Michael Smith

Final

Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Luke Littler

 PointsNights WonMatches Won+/-Legs WonLWAT
Luke Littler26215+1612642
Luke Humphries24314+3111947
Michael van Gerwen22413+610136
Nathan Aspinall18111010335
Michael Smith17110-49629
Rob Cross1106-77718
Gerwyn Price1006-157424
Peter Wright402-274715

Night 12 – Rotterdam Ahoy

Thursday April 18

Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith v Luke Littler

Rob Cross v Gerwyn Price

Peter Wright v Nathan Aspinall

Michael van Gerwen v Luke Humphries

Photos credit Simon O’Connor/PDC

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