After an incredible night in Rotterdam last Thursday the dust has settled and the final four players to contest the play offs in the Premier League have been decided. Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson were already assured of a place at the O2, and they’ve now been joined by Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis after he beat Anderson and his only rival for 4th place, Peter Wright, drew with Raymond van Barneveld.
The format is two semi finals played over the best of 19 legs, after which the winners of each will face each other in the grande finale over 21 legs. 1st placed Michael van Gerwen will meet 4th placed Adrian Lewis, while 2nd and 3rd, Taylor and Anderson, will contest the other semi.
It was the first time the Premier League had held a fixture in Europe last week when it visited Rotterdam, but it’s sure to be an exercise that is repeated after tickets were sold out within an hour. It was a vibrant atmosphere at the Rotterdam Ahoy, made all the better for a titanic clash between Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor for 1st place in the Premier League table and the £25,000 prize. It was MVG who ran out the winner as those two brought down the curtain on the event, landing a 7-5 victory with a crucial 164 checkout when the game was poised at 5-4 in his favour.
Earlier in the evening Raymond van Barneveld raised his game in front of home support to hold Peter Wright to a draw and end the latter’s hopes of a play off place; while Adrian Lewis defeated Gary Anderson 7-2 to secure 4th spot and make that prior result academic anyway. James Wade beat Robert Thornton 7-3 in the night’s other match, and he can look back on a good season falling just 3 points short of the top four in the final shake up.
MVG the Hot Favourite
Naturally, Michael van Gerwen is the bookmaker’s favourite to take the Premier League title, with best prices of -149 available with Paddy Power, but we’re already holding a betting slip on Phil Taylor at +800 after we tipped ‘The Power’ back in February at the start of the season.
Looking ahead to the two semi finals, there’s no real reason to abandon the top two players, even if they are the obvious selections.
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen is a short price to beat Lewis and make his way to the final, but he can be backed to beat a -3.5 handicap at -143 with Betfair.
In the last 15 meetings between these two players MVG has won twelve to Lewis’s one, with the other two games resulting in draws. There have been close matches and sweeping wins among that sample, but over the extended 19 legs there is much more scope for a 4-leg or more victory for the Dutchman.
He’s done little wrong since losing his opening Premier League game to James Wade, and it’s been the consistent run of form which eventually led to him leading the Premier League table for the fourth season running. He was a beaten finalist in each of the last two years, going down to Raymond van Barneveld in 2014 and Gary Anderson in 2015, so there will be plenty of motivation to get to the final and have a chance of putting that right.
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Phil Taylor has been back to near his best this season after an indifferent 2015, and we’re backing him to beat Anderson at -125 with Marathonbet
The Power led the Premier League for much of the season, but the recent defeat at the hands of Peter Wright let van Gerwen slip past into top spot. That set up last week’s epic encounter, but the Dutchman’s sensational 164 check out to break throw proved to be the decisive action and led him to a thrilling 7-5 victory. However, Taylor is in good shape to make the finals at the expense of Anderson, who hasn’t had quite the season he may have hoped for considering his own very high standards.
After a muddling start to the league including missing a week with illness, Anderson was left playing catch up to an extent. He cruised into a play off position prior to last week after a good run of wins, but was soundly beaten by a fired up Lewis last Thursday and lost twice to Taylor during the regular Premier League season.
It’s dangerous to discount any of these four players who are all capable of taking the big prize on their day, but the circumstances point to another van Gerwen v Taylor final and another top level battle.
Michael van Gerwen -3.5 to beat Adrian Lewis
Thursday 19th May, 19:15 GMT Start
Phil Taylor to beat Gary Anderson
Thursday 19th May, 19:15 GMT Start