Gary Anderson claimed the #Premier League title on a dramatic night of #Darts at the O2 in London yesterday, in front of 11,000 vociferous fans. A frenetic finish to his semi-final against Dave Chisnall saw the Scotsman edge the match on a deciding leg. He later returned with a more controlled performance to defeat the favourite Michael van Gerwen in the final, pocketing the £200,000 first prize and repeating his victory in 2011. Anderson became just the second man after the great Phil Taylor to win both the world title and the Premier League in the same season.
After 16 weeks of action across the length and breadth of the British Isles, the Betway Premier League came down to just four players at the O2. With semi-finals and the final itself being concluded on the same night, there was plenty for darts aficionados to get excited about. Could Raymond van Barneveld defy the odds and retain his title after first overcoming world number one, van Gerwen in their semi-final clash? Could Chisnall replicate his tremendous form from the league format, when faced with the world champion, Anderson?
Anderson 10 - 9 Chisnall
Chisnall seemed to be ticking most of the boxes in the early stages against his semi-final opponent, as he stormed into a 6-3 lead. His form seemed to be peaking at the right time as he recorded a 12-dart finish that ended with a massive 152 checkout.
Anderson responded to level at 7-7, including successive 14-dart finishes of his own. He stuttered in the next leg though, missing double top to hand a slim advantage back to the St Helens' player. The match was to go all the way as they traded legs to leave the outcome uncertain at 9-9.
Chisnall had three darts at the doubles to take the victory, but when he disappointingly missed his opportunity to make the final, Anderson unerringly did not. A clinical 116 finish saw the relieved Scot go through.
Van Gerwen 10 - 8 van Barneveld
The battle of the Dutchmen was expected to be a titanic tussle. Van Gerwen finished top of the league after 16 matches, but his aura of invincibility had seemed to be slipping slightly during the second-half of the campaign. Van Barneveld had struggled to survive Judgement Night, yet had been on a tremendous streak of form ever since.
'Barney' broke clear after the pair had shared the first eight legs, moving into a commanding 7-4 lead including an incredible ten-dart finish. He had only narrowly missed a (perfect) nine-darter on double twelve as the match seemed to be going his way.
Van Gerwen upped his level to take 5 legs on the bounce to go 9-7 in front, with two 11-dart finishes included in the stunning turnaround. His rival was not quite finished and prolonged the match into the 18th leg, but could not prevent van Gerwen finishing the contest with double four.
Anderson 11 - 7 van Gerwen
The final itself was far from an anti-climax. After a close opening to their encounter, Anderson was the first to make his move as he marched into a 7-3 lead, aided by van Gerwen's profligacy on the doubles.
Although the Dutchman did manage to close to 9-7, as he found yet another 11-dart finish, the greater consistency seemed to be with Anderson. The Scot thwarted any hopes of a late fightback to take the next two legs.The telling statistic of the match was probably the relative checkout percentages. Both men had 22 chances, but Anderson was far more deadly at 50% than his opponent, despite trailing on the three-darts averages (104.85 to 105.81).