MICHAEL VAN GERWEN, Phil Taylor and James Wade remained unbeaten in the Betway Premier League on a night of four draws at The Brighton Centre, as Jelle Klaasen picked up his first win of the season.
The five matches in Brighton remarkably saw four six-all stalemates as the tournament's top three players continued their strong starts to the campaign.
Reigning Premier League champion Van Gerwen was held to a draw with Adrian Lewis, who took out a superb 170 checkout before snatching a point in the deciding leg of a quick-fire contest.
Van Gerwen's opening 11-darter was cancelled out by Lewis before the two-time World Champion hit scores of 174 and 177 to set up doubles for 13-darters as he moved into a 3-1 cushion.
Van Gerwen then landed a 116 finish before Lewis took out 170 in style to delight the capacity crowd at The Brighton Centre as he moved 4-2 up.
An 11-darter from van Gerwen featured six perfect darts as he hit back, and the Dutchman levelled at four-all and five-all before he then secured a minimum of a point with a 14-darter.
Van Gerwen also gave himself a chance to claim victory in the decider, but missed the bull for a 170 finish of his own to allow Lewis in on double 12 to share the spoils.
"I didn't play too badly but I missed a few things here and there, and you're not allowed to do that, especially against Adrian," said Van Gerwen.
"I started off really well but I didn't feel great today, I've had a bit of a cold and my focus wasn't really there - but you have to do it with your arm and your head. At least I got a point and I can't complain too much."
Lewis said: "I thought I did quite well at the end to get a point. I thought I had the chance to run away with it but I didn't take my opportunities, that's down to a lack of confidence I think.
"Results haven't really been going my way as such, but hopefully I'm on the turn now. I could have got a lot more out of the game - 12 months ago I'd have put the game to bed but today I didn't, but he showed his quality and that's why he's world number one."
Second-placed Taylor scrambled home a draw against Kim Huybrechts, who missed three darts for victory in the game's final two legs before picking up his second point of the campaign.
After finishing 110 in the opening leg, Huybrechts then finished double nine and 87 as he held an early 3-1 lead, with Taylor staying in touch at 4-3 before being left waiting on 32 as the Belgian took out a stunning 140 checkout.
Taylor responded in the ninth before another 87 checkout secured a point for Huybrechts in his bid to claim a maiden televised win over the 16-time World Champion.
Taylor landed his third 180 of the game in the next before allowing Huybrechts a shot at 136 - with the Belgian missing double eight for the victory before the Stoke ace took out double 16 to force a deciding leg.
Huybrechts also gave himself another shot at the win in the final leg, but missed darts at tops and double ten to allow Taylor in on double eight to claim the point.
"It was a point gained," said Taylor. "He had a shot and he missed, but he played well. I wasn't quite on song tonight but I plodded on and tried my best.
"I didn't play as well as I can do, but the key thing was getting another point. I'm trying to qualify for the Play-Offs and it's all about that and getting the points."
Huybrechts said: "I'm disappointed. I missed some important doubles, he did as well, but I think I should have won that game.
"Phil's the 16-time World Champion, I've never beaten him on stage and I had my chances but I blew it. I was very nervous but it was my own fault. It's still a learning curve for me but I'm getting there."
Gary Anderson came from 5-1 down to claim a draw with Wade in a battle of two former Premier League champions, as the left-hander continued his unbeaten start to the season.
Anderson had won the opening leg with the aid of a 180 in a 14-darter, only to see Wade finish two 14-darters to edge ahead before taking out 100 and 110 to lead 4-1.
He then fired in a 171 score as he opened up a four-leg lead before Anderson recovered from earlier misses with a purple patch as he finished back-to-back 12-darters with finishes of 88 and 121 before taking out tops for a 13-darter.
Anderson then punished Wade for his misses across three visits in the tenth as double three levelled the contest, and tops saw him claim a fifth straight leg to secure a point at 6-5.
Wade, though, held the advantage of throw in the decider, and was first to a finish as he claimed a draw on double nine.
"It's a good point and from 5-1 down I'm over the moon to get a draw," said Anderson. "I was out-scoring James at the start but I couldn't hit a double, and you know that if you miss he's going to take his chances.
"It's hard to play against that but I clawed it back and got the draw. I'd have felt a bit guilty if I'd won that, but it's a point. There's a long way to go but I enjoyed it tonight."
Wade said: "It feels like a loss and I wasn't good enough. I'm annoyed but Gary did what he needed to do at the right times."
Peter Wright remains a point behind the top three following his draw with Raymond van Barneveld, who took out a brilliant 140 checkout to grab a point from their south coast contest.
A tight contest saw the opening eight legs shared before Wright broke for the first time to lead 5-4, before double eight ensured a minimum of a point.
Van Barneveld landed two 180s in a 13-darter to keep his hopes alive in leg 11, and then produced a majestic 140 finish on double ten to share the points.
"I'm happy with a draw after being 6-4 down," conceded Van Barneveld. "He let me in and it was a fantastic 12 darts with the 140 finish at the end."
Wright admitted: "I had my chances but didn't take them. It's always difficult against Raymond and he showed that with the 12-darter against the throw in the last leg."
Dutch ace Klaasen picked up his first victory of the season with a fine display to defeat Dave Chisnall 7-3, averaging almost 99, hitting four 180s and finishing seven doubles from 15 attempts.
Klaasen opened the first two legs with maximums, while he followed an 85 finish with a 72 checkout to lead 2-1 before Chisnall took out 86 to respond in leg four.
The Dutchman, though, capitalised in leg five before taking out tops, a brilliant 152 finish and another 85 checkout for a 6-2 cushion, and though Chisnall responded briefly with tops, Klaasen sealed the win by taking out 72.
"I'm happy with the win and I feel good," said Klaasen, who moves above Chisnall on leg difference with five games remaining before the bottom two players are eliminated on Judgement Night.
"In the first three weeks I didn't play badly but I missed a few chances, but I've practised a lot on my doubles - I've tried to go more for tops and double 16 - and it worked today.
"It's good to get away from zero points. I'm still not where I want to be, and on stage I still need to get some more confidence and I have to play a lot better to stay in the league.
"Tonight that worked out, and before the game I knew that I had to take something from this match. I've got two points and I'm feeling good, and I want to stay in the top eight and then try to qualify for the semi-finals."
The Betway Premier League continues at the Westpoint Arena in Exeter on Thursday March 2, with the five fixtures including Taylor up against Anderson, Van Gerwen's meeting with Wade and Lewis taking on Wright. For tickets, call 08444 99 99 55 or visit www.ticketzone.co.uk.
Betway Premier League
Night Four - Thursday February 23
The Brighton Centre
Dave Chisnall 3-7 Jelle Klaasen
Michael van Gerwen 6-6 Adrian Lewis
Gary Anderson 6-6 James Wade
Phil Taylor 6-6 Kim Huybrechts
Raymond van Barneveld 6-6 Peter Wright
Best of 12 legs
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN and Gary Anderson battled out a draw as the 2017 Betway Premier League season opened with a thrilling night in Newcastle, as Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld, James Wade and Peter Wright picked up victories.
Reigning Premier League champion Van Gerwen saw his 32-game winning run ended as Anderson produced a gutsy fightback from 2-0 and 3-1 down in front of a sell-out 7,000 crowd at the Metro Radio Arena.
An explosive opening from Van Gerwen saw legs of 12, 13 and 11 darts put him in command before Anderson produced a superb 130 checkout to level at four-all and a 13-darter to move 5-4 up.
Van Gerwen hit back with a 14-darter in the tenth before Anderson secured a minimum of a point with a 114 checkout, but the World Champion took out 68 in the decider to share the spoils.
"I'm happy with a point and it was probably the right result," said Anderson, who averaged 103 to his rival's 107.94. "He broke me at the beginning but he started to miss and I hit a couple of good checkouts.
"It's a long time since I got nerves on stage but when I got in front my heart was pounding! This is the first night though and a lot can happen in the next 16 weeks, but we're all here to win it."
Van Gerwen - whose last defeat came in October - admitted: "Of course I'm disappointed with the draw, but I think I was the better player.
"Gary's finishing was very good at the right moments and I have a lot of respect for that, but I think I have more in me and I didn't really show it. It was a good game but next week I want to get two points."
Six-time Premier League champion Phil Taylor began his final season in the tournament with a 7-3 defeat of Dave Chisnall, who never recovered from seeing a slow start punished as the 56-year-old moved 4-1 up.
Chisnall's first leg had been an 11-darter, and he then took out 160 and 134 to hit back to 5-3, but Taylor followed an earlier 121 bull finish with a 118 checkout before sealing victory by taking out 75.
"It was a bit scrappy but it's good to get the win and the two points on the board," said Taylor. "We both his some great finishes, the 121 was lovely and the 118 was great too.
"It's massive for me because every point will be crucial this year. It's my last Premier League and I'm determined to enjoy it."
Raymond van Barneveld, the Premier League champion three years ago, came from 4-1 down to defeat Adrian Lewis in a deciding leg, as the two-time World Champion missed three darts to snatch a draw in a dramatic finale.
Lewis capitalised on eight missed doubles from the Dutchman to win the opening two legs and, after a 14-darter got Van Barneveld onto the scoreboard, finishes of double 14 and double 17 gave the Stoke thrower a three-leg cushion.
Lewis, though, missed doubles in the next two as Van Barneveld hit back before the five-time World Champion finished 81 to level and double 18 to lead 5-4.
Lewis levelled with a 14-darter before the pair traded 180s in leg 11, which Van Barneveld took with an 84 checkout before being handed a reprieve for his missed bull for a 170 finish in the decider when Lewis was unable to finish 36.
"When you're 4-1 down you'd take a draw but Adrian missed those darts at the end and let me in," said Van Barneveld, who averaged almost 100. "When I missed the 170 I thought I'd lost it but it's a weird game sometimes.
"It's a good two points and I'm happy because if you start with the two points you can't do any better than that."
2009 Premier League champion James Wade made a winning start with a strong display to defeat Kim Huybrechts 7-5.
The Belgian, returning for his second Premier League season, hit back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to level only to then miss his chance to move ahead in leg seven.
A second 96 finish of the game saw Wade regain the advantage, and despite a 134 finish from Huybrechts it was the left-hander who closed out victory with the aid of a 180 in the deciding leg.
"It was steady but I got the job done," said Wade. "I tend to be active on my legs but lazy when my opponent has the throw, but I was strong on Kim's throw tonight.
"It's brilliant to get back on the Premier League stage and the crowd were fantastic."
Peter Wright was the night's other winner as he edged out Jelle Klaasen 7-4 as the Dutchman returned to the Premier League stage for the first time since 2009.
After a 120 finish gave Wright an early 2-1 cushion, Klaasen hit back with finishes of 76 and 68 to lead 3-2 and remained locked at four-all in a tight contest.
Wright, though, capitalised on missed doubles from the former Lakeside Champion in two of the final three legs to pull clear and claim the two points.
"I missed too many doubles and didn't score like I want to, but I got the win and that's all that counts," said Wright.
"Jelle has really improved in the last two years and deserves to be back in the Premier League, but it was a game of missed doubles tonight and we'll both be better for this."
Wright will take on reigning champion Van Gerwen next Thursday at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena, with the season's second league night also featuring Taylor's clash with Wade in a repeat of two previous Premier League finals.
Two-time champion Anderson takes on Klaasen, Lewis meets Chisnall and Van Barneveld faces Huybrechts. For tickets, call 0843 373 3000 or visit www.motorpointarenanottingham.com.
Betway Premier League
Night One - Thursday February 2
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Kim Huybrechts 5-7 James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor 7-3 Dave Chisnall
Gary Anderson 6-6 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 7-4 Jelle Klaasen