REIGNING Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters champion Michael van Gerwen began his bid to win the tournament for a third successive year with a hard-fought win over Raymond van Barneveld on Thursday as Gary Anderson, Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis recorded superb victories.
In an opening night of superb quality in the World Series of Darts event, three players - Anderson, Peter Wright and van Barneveld - all hit six perfect darts in their bid to win the Mercedes-Benz CLK-250 car which sponsors Sixt have offered for a nine-dart finish.
Anderson also landed a maximum 170 checkout before sealing his win over James Wade with a 147 finish, while Stephen Bunting hit a superb 11 maximums only to be edged out 10-9 by Lewis.
And defending champion van Gerwen had to dig deep to come from 4-1 down to defeat Dutch rival van Barneveld 10-8 in another outstanding contest, with the world number one ending the game - held in the unique outdoor arena at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium - with an average of 106.80.
Van Barneveld was at his clinical best in the early stages as he opened up a three-leg lead and he also set up a possible nine-darter in the game's second leg only to miss out on a seventh perfect dart and then see van Gerwen take the leg.
The world number one hit back strongly in the middle of the game as he levelled with legs of 11, 11 and 13 darts before responding to a 96 finish from van Barneveld with a 14-darter to square the game at five-all.
Van Barneveld then took two of the next three to regain a slender cushion at 7-6, only for van Gerwen to find an extra gear once again, following another 11-darter with a 127 checkout to break and lead for the first time at 8-7.
Van Barneveld landed an 11-darter of his own to break back and level, but van Gerwen took out a key 81 to break and move 9-8 up before hitting his eighth 180 of the contest as he sealed victory in the next leg.
"It means a lot to me and I want to win this title again so much," said van Gerwen, who now plays Lewis in Friday's semi-finals. "The semi-finals will be cracking and I can't look too far ahead.
"I knew that I was playing well tonight and my confidence was there but when I had the chance to hurt him I didn't take it, and Raymond did it at the right times.
"I made mistakes and you can't afford to make mistakes in this tournament because it's really hard to win - it's difficult enough with the heat and the conditions, but I'm through to the next round."
Lewis produced what he described as one of his best-ever performances as he defied 11 maximums from Bunting to edge a 10-9 victory, averaging 105.68 and hitting five 180s and a 174 in reply to his heavy-scoring opponent.
The lead would change hands five times during a thrilling contest, with Lewis landing a 12-darter and a 101 finish early on and Bunting checking out 102 to level and a 12-dart leg of his own to lead 6-5.
Lewis hit an 11-darter as he regained the lead, but Bunting would move 9-7 up with a run of three successive legs - only to be punished for missing three match darts as the world number four levelled and then hit a 180 and double eight in the game's deciding leg.
"I thought it was a brilliant game," said Lewis. "It was tough but under the circumstances it's one of the best wins I've ever had.
"Stephen showed what a quality player he is and that he deserves to be here, and I tried my best to hang in there and match him. It's a massive step in the right direction for me and I'm very proud to get up there and play like that tonight."
World Champion Gary Anderson was also in brilliant form as he claimed a 10-8 win over James Wade, who played his part in a high-quality contest and led 8-7 at one stage before the Scot surged to victory on his World Series of Darts debut.
Anderson had finished 100 to take a 2-1 lead early on, and after Wade finished 128 as he edged ahead it was the new Premier League champion who then took out the maximum 170 checkout to level in leg six.
Wade landed a pair of 12-dart finishes as the next eight legs all went with throw, and after he edged 8-7 up Anderson then took out another 100 finish, for an 11-dart leg, as he levelled.
The Scot then claimed a crucial break of throw by landing his ninth 180 of the game and double five to move 9-8 up, before checking out 147 in the next leg to seal the win.
"Everything's a new experience out here and I had no hopes going into the game, so it was good and I enjoyed it," said Anderson.
"James has been playing well for the last year and if you give him a shot he takes it out - but I've turned into that player myself and if you give me a sniff of it I'll have a shot.
"I played well on my own throw and but James had the advantage of throw and I knew that if I got a chance I had to take it, and I went 9-8 up and then took the 147 out.
"It would be nice to go on and win this now, especially with it being my first time here."
Anderson now plays Taylor in a repeat of January's World Championship final as they clash in the semi-finals on Friday evening - after the 16-time World Champion picked up his first win in Dubai.
Taylor had been defeated by Andy Hamilton and Peter Wright in the quarter-finals in the past two years, but gained revenge against the latter with a fine 10-5 victory.
The pair shared the game's opening eight legs - including an 11-dart finish from Wright and his attempt at a nine-darter which saw him land two 180s - but Taylor pulled clear with five straight legs which included a ten-dart finish and a pair of maximums in another leg.
Wright took out 100 to keep his hopes alive at 9-5, but Taylor fired in another 180 in the next before double 16 sealed his spot in day two.
"It means everything to get the win because it's a tournament that I've never won and that I want to win," said Taylor. "I was pleased to finish Peter off there and I'm over the moon.
"I love Dubai but it's one of the places that I've not done so well in my darts so hopefully I can go through and win it now.
"Peter missed a couple of doubles in the middle of the game but once his back was against the wall he came out fighting and he's one of those players who can come back at you.
"I'm through and I'll take that - but I've got to have my head on against Gary. He's the favourite and it will be a good game, and both semi-finals will be crackers."
The $175,000 tournament concludes on Friday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium with the semi-finals and final, where the third Dubai Duty Free Masters champion will be crowned.
Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters are still available, with General Admission tickets and VIP Hospitality tickets on sale. For further information visitwww.dubai-darts.com/tickets , and in person on the day at The Irish Village.
Worldwide television coverage of the tournament will include live broadcasts on Dubai Sports TV and OSN, as well as worldwide through the PDC's series of broadcast parters:
Dubai Sports TV
OSN - Middle East & North Africa
ITV4 - UK (Delayed)
Setanta - Ireland
Fox Sports - Australia
Sky - New Zealand
RTL7 - Netherlands
www.LIVEPDC.TV for International Pass Subscribers outside of UK, Ireland & Netherlands.
Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters
Thursday May 28
Adrian Lewis 10-9 Stephen Bunting
Gary Anderson 10-8 James Wade
Phil Taylor 10-5 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 10-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Friday May 29 (8pm local time)
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Best of 21 legs
van Gerwen/Lewis v Taylor/Anderson
Best of 21 legs
Adrian Lewis v Stephen Bunting
0-1 - Bunting fires in a nerve-settling 180 before taking out 51 on double 16 to win the opener.
1-1 - Lewis replies with a maximum before taking out 85 on tops for a 12-darter.
2-1 - Lewis finishes 65 on double 12 to move ahead.
2-2 - Bunting hits back immediately, landing a 180 and taking out 76.
3-2 - The pair trade maximums before Lewis finishes 101 to move back in front.
3-3 - Bunting posts a 180 and double six to level.
4-3 - Bunting fires in another maximum but Lewis takes out 84 on double 12 to regain the edge.
4-4 - The high scoring continues as both players land 180s before Bunting finishes 102 on double 16.
5-4 - Double 14 moves Lewis back in front.
5-5 - Lewis misses a dart at tops - only his second miss of the game - to allow Bunting in on double four to level.
5-6 - Bunting breaks with a superb 12-dart leg, featuring his seventh 180 of the game and double ten.
6-6 - Lewis replies in brilliant fashion with an 11-darter, taking out 86.
7-6 - Bunting lands his eighth maximum of the game, but Lewis fires in a 174 score before hitting tops to regain the lead.
7-7 - Bunting lands double ten with his third dart as he squares the contest.
7-8 - Bunting hits another 180, and when Lewis misses three darts at double 18 and nine the St Helens ace steps in to take out 65 on tops.
7-9 - Bunting posts his tenth 180 and then adds double 16 to move a leg away from victory.
8-9 - Lewis keeps his hopes alive by hitting a fourth maximum of the game.
9-9 - Bunting lands yet another maximum, only to miss three match darts - at the bull, double eight and double four - to allow Lewis in on double eight to send the game into a deciding final leg.
10-9 - Lewis hits his fifth 180 before snatching victory on double eight to end a game of superb quality, ending with an average of 105.68.
Gary Anderson v James Wade
0-1 - Wade finishes tops to win the game's opening leg and hold throw.
1-1 - Anderson finishes 60 on double ten to level.
2-1 - The World Champion takes out 100 on tops to break throw and move ahead.
2-2 - Wade checks out a brilliant 128 finish on double ten to hit back immediately.
2-3 - The left-hander regains the lead by finishing 76 on double eight.
3-3 - Anderson levels by taking out the maximum checkout of 170 to delight the Dubai crowd.
3-4 - Anderson lands six perfect darts as he opens with two 180s, but is unable to complete a nine-darter and then sees Wade - who added a maximum of his own - take out tops for a superb 12-dart leg.
4-4 - The pair trade 180s only for Anderson to then miss four doubles to win the leg - but Wade misses tops to punish his rival as the Scot returns on double one.
4-5 - For a third successive leg, an Anderson 180 is followed by a maximum from Wade, who takes out 41 for a 12-darter to move back in front.
5-5 - A 171 score helps Anderson to be first to a finish, and he eventually posts double six to level the game again.
5-6 - Tops sees Wade edge back ahead.
6-6 - Anderson hits his sixth 180 and levels with double ten.
6-7 - Wade returns to land double eight as he regains the edge.
7-7 - Wade misses one dart to break throw for a two-leg lead, at tops, and Anderson hits the same bed to respond.
7-8 - The duo trade 180s before Wade pins tops this time as he moves two legs away from the win.
8-8 - Anderson hits his eighth 180 before finishing 100 for an 11-dart leg.
9-8 - The World Champion lands another maximum before breaking throw with double five as he moves ahead for the first time since leg three.
10-8 - Anderson seals victory in brilliant style with a 147 checkout.
Phil Taylor v Peter Wright
0-1 - Wright breaks throw by taking out 16, punishing a miss from Taylor.
1-1 - Wright misses three darts at double 16, allowing Taylor in to land double 15 to level.
2-1 - Taylor fires in the game's first 180 before taking out double eight to move ahead.
2-2 - Wright lands tops for a 14-darter to level.
3-2 - Taylor takes out 87 to move back in front with a 14-dart finish of his own.
3-3 - Wright hits six perfect darts by opening with two 180s, but like Gary Anderson earlier in the night he is unable to finish 141 - although he returns to finish a 12-darter.
4-3 - Taylor regains the lead with a hold of throw.
4-4 - Wright fires in two 180s in the leg as an 11-darter squares the contest.
5-4 - Double 14 sees Taylor move back in front.
6-4 - Taylor breaks throw with a superb leg as double 16 gives him a two-leg cushion.
7-4 - Taylor finishes 57 on tops to take a third successive leg.
8-4 - Taylor breaks once more with a brilliant ten-dart finish, hitting two 180s and double two.
9-4 - Taylor misses four darts at double 19 to win the leg, but Wright is unable to land five darts at doubles as he allows the world number two back in to move one leg away from victory.
9-5 - Wright wins his first leg in six as he takes out 100 to keep his hopes alive.
10-5 - Taylor lands double 16 to secure victory for the first time in the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters.
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
0-1 - The pair trade 180s before van Gerwen misses the bull to break with a 121 finish, allowing van Barneveld to finish tops for a 13-darter.
1-1 - van Barneveld opens with two 180s to set up a possible nine-darter, but misses a seventh treble 20 before going on to lose the leg when van Gerwen finishes double four.
1-2 - van Barneveld lands double ten to regain the lead.
1-3 - The five-time World Champion breaks throw with a clinical two-dart 89 finish to move two legs clear.
1-4 - Double 16 helps van Barneveld to win a third successive leg.
2-4 - van Gerwen hits back with a brilliant 11-darter.
3-4 - The world number one powers in another 11-dart finish as he breaks throw to reduce the gap to one leg.
4-4 - van Gerwen levels the game by posting double ten for a 13-dart leg - meaning he has taken three legs in 35 darts.
4-5 - van Barneveld hits back by finishing 96 in two darts.
5-5 - van Gerwen opens with a 180 before completing a 14-darter to level again.
5-6 - For the first time in the game both players are unable to land their doubles, with four misses from van Gerwen allowing van Barneveld back in following five misses to land double two to regain the edge.
6-6 - Double ten sees van Gerwen respond in style.
6-7 - van Gerwen misses double 11 for a 142 finish, and van Barneveld averts a possible break on double eight.
7-7 - van Gerwen levels with another 11-dart finish.
8-7 - van Gerwen breaks by finishing 127 on double eight for a 12-darter.
8-8 - The pair trade 180s as van Barneveld breaks back with a superb 11-dart finish of his own.
9-8 - Another leg goes against the throw as van Gerwen finishes 81 for a 14-darter.
10-8 - van Gerwen opens the leg with a 180 before completing victory to retain his unbeaten record in the history of the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters.
GARY ANDERSON and Raymond van Barneveld claimed the final two places in the Betway Premier League Play-Offs in Newcastle on Thursday, as a defeat for Phil Taylor meant he would not reach the top four for the first time in the tournament's history.
World Champion Anderson picked up a narrow 7-5 triumph over the six-time Premier League champion, as Taylor was edged out in a must-win contest.
A draw for Raymond van Barneveld, against James Wade, also means that the reigning Premier League champion will compete in the Play-Offs in a fortnight, as a win for Adrian Lewis over Michael van Gerwen came in vain for his top four challenge.
Anderson's clash with Taylor was typically tight, mirroring their classic World Championship final and the Scot's narrow win on the opening night of the season, and he once again prevailed.
Taylor once again performed admirably, but was unable to break his rival's throw during a high-quality contest, as the opening ten legs all went with the throw, with the Stoke great landing a 126 checkout along the way.
Anderson had earlier taken out 90 on the bull and landed seven perfect darts in another leg, which he won in 11 darts, before breaking on double nine in the 11th leg for a 6-5 lead before edging the decider on double one to take the win.
The result means that Taylor misses out on the Play-Offs for the first time in 11 seasons of the Premier League, while Anderson remains on course for a second title to follow his 2011 triumph.
"As long as I held my own throw for six legs then I knew I'd get the point that I needed, but I got a break as well and then pinched it at the end," said Anderson. "I've scraped through and anything could happen now.
"For the first nine weeks I was doing really well but I've struggled for a few weeks, so it's great to make sure I'm in the Play-Offs. It's a shame to knock Phil out because he's had some huge averages this season, and he'll be back."
Reigning champion van Barneveld came from 3-0 down to draw with James Wade to claim the point that he ultimately needed to book his spot in the Play-Offs - extending his unbeaten run to seven matches.
Wade started superbly, finishing 121 to break in the second leg, and was left waiting on 61 following a 180 in leg four only for van Barneveld to land double 16.
The Dutchman also took the next two to level, and though Wade finished double ten to edge 4-3 up, the Dutchman finished key checkouts of 80, 74 and 68 as he moved into a 6-4 advantage.
The pair traded 180s in leg 11 as a 14-darter from Wade forced a deciding leg, with van Barneveld missing two match darts to allow the left-hander to snatch a point.
"After having only five points going into Judgement Night it's great to get through to the Play-Offs," said van Barneveld, who survived with a draw in Manchester before winning his next five matches.
"I think it was a fair result because I didn't get going at the start - at 3-0 down you think it's not your night, so you're happy to get a draw at the end.
"I'm happy to still be in the competition but my game has to improve and I'll be giving it my all next week against Stephen Bunting."
Lewis was at his sublime best as he overcame van Gerwen 7-5 in a see-saw thriller, averaging 108.91 and hitting seven 180s to briefly keep alive his hopes of snatching a Play-Off spot.
Lewis had led 2-0 before missed doubles in the third allowed van Gerwen to get off the mark, with the Dutchman levelling and following a 98 checkout from his rival with checkouts of 87 and 121 to move 4-3 up.
Van Gerwen then punished Lewis' miss at the bullseye in the next to lead 5-3, only for Lewis to fire back with a maximums in the next four legs.
His surge began with a 12-darter before he punished two misses from van Gerwen to level, before posting a brilliant 11-darter to move 6-5 up and taking the final leg in another 11 superb darts to claim the victory.
"I had to win the game to stay in the mix and I did that, but I don't think I deserved to be in the top four," admitted Lewis. "I was under pressure from the off because Michael had nothing to lose, and it was great to get the win.
"All I wanted to do was take my floor form onto the stage, and tonight I proved that I can do it so I'm happy with that. There are more major tournaments coming up soon and I want to take that form into those events."
Van Gerwen's defeat means that he now faces Dave Chisnall in Brighton next week in a shoot-out to decide who finishes top of the table, with the St Helens ace moving just a point behind the current league leader with a 7-1 win over Stephen Bunting.
After taking the opening leg with tops, Chisnall produced some brilliant darts with legs of 12, 14 and 11 darts - including a sublime 180 followed by a 137 checkout to move four legs clear.
He traded 180s with Bunting to win a fifth leg before the former Lakeside Champion hit back in the sixth on double ten, but Chisnall was clinical in securing the victory by taking out double 16 in the next and a 132 checkout on the bullseye, ending with a 104.50 average.
"I'm delighted," said Chisnall. "I started a bit slowly but it's all about the winning and I've done that.
"Stephen didn't play like he can and I took full advantage - I scored heavily and finished well again. I'm over the moon with how I'm playing at the moment and I want to keep winning and take this into the Play-Offs."
The final league night of the 2015 Betway Premier League season takes place at The Brighton Centre next Thursday, with Taylor facing Wade, van Barneveld meeting Bunting and Lewis playing Anderson before the decider for top spot between van Gerwen and Chisnall.
A small number of tickets are still available by calling 0844 847 1515 or online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk.
Betway Premier League
Night 14, Thursday May 7
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Dave Chisnall 7-1 Stephen Bunting
Adrian Lewis 7-5 Michael van Gerwen
James Wade 6-6 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 5-7 Gary Anderson
Night 15, Thursday May 14
The Brighton Centre
** Revised Order of Play **
Phil Taylor v James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld v Stephen Bunting
Adrian Lewis v Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall
Tickets: 0844 847 1515 or www.ticketmaster.co.uk
Dave Chisnall v Stephen Bunting
1-0 - Chisnall finishes 50 on tops to win the opening leg.
2-0 - Chisnall lands a 180 to leave 137 before taking out the combination on double 16 to break.
3-0 - Chisnall finishes 70 on double eight to move three legs clear.
4-0 - Another break of throw sees Chisnall move four legs clear as he produces a brilliant 11-dart leg, opening with a 180 before finishing double 16.
5-0 - The pair trade 180s before Chisnall lands double two to win a fifth leg.
5-1 - Bunting finally gets off the mark as he takes out double ten.
6-1 - Both players open with 180s before double 16 sees Chisnall seal a minimum of a draw.
7-1 - Chisnall finishes the game in style by taking out 132 on the bull, completing the contest with a 104.50 average.
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
1-0 - Lewis finishes 64 to win the opening leg.
2-0 - Lewis lands double 12 to break throw and move two legs up.
2-1 - Lewis fires in a maximum, but misses three darts at tops as van Gerwen lands double seven to break back.
2-2 - Double eight sees van Gerwen level.
3-2 - The Dutchman lands a 180, but Lewis takes out 98 in two darts on double 19 to move back ahead.
3-3 - van Gerwen takes out 87 on double eight to square the game again.
3-4 - The pair trade 180s again before van Gerwen finishes 121 on the bull to break throw and move ahead for the first time.
3-5 - Lewis misses the bull to take out 121 himself, and van Gerwen returns from a miss at tops to hit the bed at the second time of asking.
4-5 - Lewis hits back with a 12-darter, featuring a 180 and a 91 finish.
5-5 - Lewis posts another maximum, and is given a let-off for his missed doubles when van Gerwen is unable to land double ten and five, allowing the Stoke ace back to level on tops.
6-5 - Lewis produces a brilliant 11-dart leg, scoring 180, 140 and 145 before finishing double nine to move ahead.
7-5 - Lewis kicks off the final leg with five perfect darts - scoring 180 and 125 - before sealing the victory in style.
Lewis' win means that he can still make the Play-Offs should Raymond van Barneveld and/or Gary Anderson lose their final two games.
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
1-0 - Wade finishes tops to take the opening leg.
2-0 - van Barneveld scores 171 to leave 40, but Wade takes out a superb 121 on double 14.
3-0 - Wade finishes 56 on tops to win a third successive leg.
3-1 - Wade lands a 180 to leave 61, but misses tops to complete the combination as van Barneveld finishes double 16 to get off the mark.
3-2 - Wade leaves tops, but van Barneveld finishes double ten to break and win a second successive leg.
3-3 - van Barneveld lands his first 180 before taking out double ten once again.
4-3 - Wade this time lands double ten as he moves back ahead.
4-4 - Wade fires in a maximum to leave 41, but van Barneveld holds his nerve to finish 80 on double ten to level.
4-5 - van Barneveld takes out 74 on tops to break throw and move ahead for the first time.
4-6 - The reigning champion opens with a maximum before finishing 68 on double four to secure at least a draw.
5-6 - The pair trade 180s before Wade completes a 14-darter on double ten to take the game into a deciding leg.
6-6 - Wade lands his fourth 180 but wires the bull for a 121 finish - only for van Barneveld to miss two match darts at double 16 as Wade returns to pin double ten.
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
1-0 - Taylor lands double five with his third dart as he takes the opening leg.
1-1 - Anderson finishes 90 on the bull to level.
2-1 - Anderson lands a 180, but Taylor finishes 84 on double 12 to move back ahead.
2-2 - Anderson hits back on double eight.
3-2 - Taylor finishes 66 with a bullseye, double eight combination.
3-3 - Anderson lands seven perfect darts - hitting two 180s and a seventh treble 20 before missing the treble 19 in his bid for a nine-darter - but returns to win the leg in 11 darts.
4-3 - Anderson opens with a 180, but Taylor fires in double 18 to edge back ahead and avert a possible break of throw.
4-4 - Anderson finishes a 66 combination with treble ten and double 18 to level once again.
5-4 - Taylor once again moves in front, taking out a superb 126 finish on the bullseye.
5-5 - Anderson lands his fifth 180 before posting double 16 to level the game again - ensuring the clash will go the full distance.
5-6 - Taylor hits his second 180, but misses double 11 to finish 102 to allow Anderson in, and double nine for the Scot sees him secure at least a point and knock Taylor out of the tournament - securing both his own and Raymond van Barneveld's Play-Off places.
5-7 - Anderson eventually seals victory on double one, after Taylor misses his chance to claim a point.
THE final two places in the Betway Premier League Play-Offs could be confirmed on Thursday, with Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson aiming to end Phil Taylor's amazing record in the tournament.
Six-time Premier League champion Taylor has never missed out on the Play-Offs since the event was introduced in 2005, but sits three points adrift of the top four with two league nights remaining.
Heading to Newcastle, league leader Michael van Gerwen and the impressive Dave Chisnall have already secured their semi-final places, with Newcastle's Week 14 to be followed by the final league night in Brighton next Thursday.
Raymond van Barneveld's double of wins in Birmingham last week took him into the top four, level on 16 points with Anderson - with the pair crucially three points ahead of fifth-placed Taylor and four clear of Adrian Lewis.
That leaves Taylor and Lewis both needing to win their final two games, and hope for van Barneveld and Anderson to lose their matches, if they are to snatch Play-Off places.
Taylor takes on Anderson in Newcastle in a must-win clash as he bids to preserve his amazing record of having competed in the Play-Offs in every one of the previous ten seasons since the Premier League was introduced in 2005.
"I'll be giving it everything," said Taylor. "If I can get the win then that's great and I'll move on to the last game, but if I miss out then it's not the be-all and end-all.
"I've been playing well but it's the closest season we've ever had and I've come up against some fantastic performances as well as thrown away some points in games I should have won.
"I'm looking forward to playing Gary because they're always great matches, and I've been practising really well this week."
The rematch of January's World Championship final also sees Anderson looking to complete a Premier League double over Taylor, but he warned: "I know what I'm up against playing Phil and I've got to be at the top of my game.
"Even though he's not got the results recently he's still been playing really well, and the standard's so high now that the line between winning and losing is so fine.
"I know that it's still in my hands for the Play-Offs but I can't get too far ahead of myself and I can only focus on Phil."
Adrian Lewis' feint Play-Off hopes hinge on his result against Michael van Gerwen, but the league leader is determined to show no mercy in his own bid to secure that he tops the final table for a third successive season.
"Two years ago I won the league with 22 points and last year with 24 points, and it would be amazing to be top again for the third time," said van Gerwen. "I'm already on 22 points and that shows how the standard has been raised.
"I know I'm playing well but I can't afford any mistakes, also for my own confidence. I know that I'm through to the semi-finals but you want to win all the time and I have to take it game by game.
"Averages are important but not as important as getting the results and I've got to make sure that I prepare properly and produce the darts at the right moments to get the two points."
Van Barneveld, meanwhile, has moved into the top four for the first time this season after winning his last five matches, and takes on 2009 Premier League champion James Wade in Newcastle.
"I'm not in the semi-finals yet and I've got to focus on playing James this week," said van Barneveld. "There are no easy matches and I'm still playing finals every week.
"Anything can still go wrong if I don't show up, but the form is there, the belief is there and I feel comfortable.
"Before Judgement Night I was thinking about not getting eliminated and after four more weeks I'm third - it's been an amazing time and I'm so happy."
Wade cannot qualify now for the Play-Offs following his draw with Stephen Bunting last week, but the left-hander bounced back by reaching two finals in Players Championship events over the weekend in Coventry.
"I haven't played well enough but I've got two games left and I need to prove a point to myself," said Wade.
"I'm going to put the work in and I want to play darts like I can, because I've not been playing great darts in recent weeks, and that's why I'm where I am in the table.
"I believe in my heart of hearts that I'm better than that. I think this year it's been the strongest field and perhaps it's probably been one of my weakest performances, but I'm honoured to be a part of this Premier League."
Bunting is also playing only for pride as he takes on St Helens rival Dave Chisnall at the Metro Radio Arena as he bids to end his debut season on a high.
"Dave's a great friend but that goes out of the window when we go up on that stage - we'll want to beat each other and we're looking for the two points," said Bunting.
"I've beaten him in our last few games so hopefully I can continue that run and get the win. I want to keep competing at the top level for a lot of years so it's important for me to try and finish the season in the best way I can.
"I've started to enjoy it more and get into it in the last few weeks and the crowds have been great, and it's a fantastic tournament with the best players in the world."
Chisnall sits second and has already secured his Play-Off place going into the final two league nights, but is determined to continue his impressive form.
"It's important because I've got to keep playing the darts I'm playing - I don't want to slack off because I'm through to the Play-Offs, I want to get a winning streak going," he said.
"It's going to be another tough game and I'll have to come prepared for it, and I'll be ready."
Betway Premier League - Play-Offs Permutations
Michael van Gerwen - has qualified for Play-Offs
Dave Chisnall - has qualified for Play-Offs
Raymond van Barneveld - has 16pts, qualifies with win agaxinst Wade or if Taylor and Lewis do not win
Gary Anderson - has 16pts, qualifies with win/draw against Taylor
Phil Taylor - has to defeat Anderson & Wade and hope van Barneveld or Anderson lose both remaining games
Adrian Lewis - has to defeat van Gerwen & Anderson and hope van Barneveld/Anderson and Taylor lose both remaining games
Stephen Bunting - cannot qualify for Play-Offs
James Wade - cannot qualify for Play-Offs
Betway Premier League
Night 14, Thursday May 7
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Dave Chisnall v Stephen Bunting
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Tickets: 08444 93 6666 or www.eventim.co.uk
Evens Dave Chisnall
7/4 Stephen Bunting
3/1 Adrian Lewis
4/7 Michael van Gerwen
6/4 James Wade
6/5 Raymond van Barneveld
11/8 Phil Taylor
11/8 Gary Anderson
OUTRIGHT ODDS (before Week 14)
10/11 Michael van Gerwen
4/1 Gary Anderson
6/1 Dave Chisnall
7/1 Raymond van Barneveld
9/1 Phil Taylor
50/1 Adrian Lewis
For other bets and special offers, visitwww.betway.com. Odds above correct at time of writing and may be subject to change.
KEEGAN BROWN won his first Players Championship title with an astounding display to defeat Adrian Lewis 6-3
KEEGAN BROWN won his first Players Championship title with an astounding display to defeat Adrian Lewis 6-3 in Sunday's ProTour final in Coventry, ending with a 111 average.
The PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion has previously won two Youth Tour events but confirmed his status amongst the world's elite stars with a relentless and mature display against the world number four.
Brown had already overcome Alan Norris, young rivals Jamie Lewis, Ricky Evans and Dirk van Duijvenbode as well as world number five Peter Wright and in-form Scot John Henderson in Sunday's £60,000 event.
He then took on Lewis in the final, and claimed the title in style with a brilliant display.
Brown took out 130 twice for 12-darters as he took a 2-1 lead, while Lewis landed a 180 in the second and another maximum as he levelled with a 14-darter.
Brown then landed a maximum in a 13-darter to edge 3-2 up before breaking throw in the sixth after posting another 180 and double five.
Lewis broke back with a fine 13-darter, landing a 177 and double ten, but saw his chance to level in the next ended when Brown fired in a 177 of his own to set up double 14 for a 13-darter, which moved him into a 5-3 lead.
Brown then scored 140, 180 and 145 in the next to set up 36 for the title, and though he initially missed three darts at double 18, returned to hit the bed for another 13-dart finish as he completed a memorable win.
"It's overwhelming," said Brown. "Adrian got the better of me the last time we played, he destroyed me, so I'm glad I got him this time - he's a Premier League player so you know what to expect.
"The Youth Tour has helped me over the last couple of years to progress onto the latter stages of the ProTour. In my previous final against Robert Thornton I lost 6-5 and in that last leg I'm glad the double 18 went in in the end!"
The £10,000 prize money will move Brown into the provisional qualifying places for July's BetVictor World Matchplay in Blackpool, and he admitted: "The World Matchplay is at the back of the mind of every player.
"I've got to move onto the next competition now, we're back in Crawley in a couple of weeks and I know if I'm not grounded then somebody's going to beat me 6-0 - I need to keep my feet on the ground and relax and play my normal game, but I'll enjoy this first."
Lewis' run to the final saw him bounce back well from his double of defeats in last Thursday's Betway Premier League in Birmingham.
He enjoyed two whitewash wins in his first three games on Sunday, against Mick Todd and Steve West, and also defeated Matt Clark, Mervyn King, Mensur Suljovic and Gerwyn Price on his way to the decider, picking up £5,000 prize money for his efforts on the day.
Price was appearing in his second PDC semi-final since turning professional in 2014, with the £2,500 prize money consolidating his place in the qualifying positions for July's BetVictor World Matchplay in Blackpool.
After defeating youngsters Ross Smith and Nathan Aspinall, he then knocked out Vincent van der Voort, Brendan Dolan and James Wade - the latter two in a deciding leg - as he won through to the last four, where despite a 170 finish Lewis proved too strong.
Henderson continued the form which had taken him into the German Darts Mastes final a month ago as he battled through to the semis, and like Price improved his position inside the World Matchplay's qualifying places.
After overcoming Wes Newton 6-5 in his opening game, he then saw off Mickey Mansell, Scottish duo Robert Thornton and Jamie Bain and Dave Chisnall as he progressed through the field.
Wade had been the runner-up in both of the weekend's previous Players Championship events, and ended the weekend with a quarter-final appearance.
Having been the top seed on the day, Wade overcame Luke Woodhouse, Jamie Robinson and Robbie Green before edging out Holland's Jermaine Wattimena 6-5, but after finishing 142 and 170 to take Price to a deciding leg missed two match darts as the Welshman ended his hopes.
Wade's Premier League rival Dave Chisnall also went out in the last eight alongside Austrian star Mensur Suljovic and Saturday's Players Championship winner Peter Wright.
The Dutch quartet of Wattimena, Benito van de Pas, Jan Dekker and Dirk van Duijvenbode were joined by English youngster Adam Hunt, Scotland's emerging Jamie Bain and top 16 stars Mervyn King and Brendan Dolan in reaching the last 16.
Gerwyn Price 6-5 James Wade
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Mensur Suljovic
John Henderson 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Keegan Brown 6-4 Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Keegan Brown 6-4 John Henderson
Keegan Brown 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Winner £10,000Runner-Up £5,000
Final - Leg-By-Leg
0-0 - Keegan Brown wins the bull and throws first.
0-1 - Brown takes the opening leg with a superb 12-darter, scoring 131, 140, 100 and finishing 130 on double five.
1-1 - Lewis lands a 180 and finishes 74 on tops to level.
1-2 - Brown's outstanding start continues as he opens with a 180 before finishing 130 for another 12-darter, this time ending on double five.
2-2 - Lewis kicks off the leg with a maximum before levelling by landing double ten for a 14-darter.
2-3 - Brown edges back in front with a 13-darter, opening with another 180 before finishing tops.
2-4 - Brown scores 140, 180 and 105 to be first to a finish before breaking throw on double five in 15 darts.
3-4 - The superb standard continues as Lewis lands a 177 and double ten to break with a 13-darter, after Brown misses double 16 to extend his advantage.
3-5 - Brown breaks once again with another 13-dart leg, landing a 177 to leave double 14 after Lewis is unable to finish 135.
3-6 - Brown scores 140, 180 and 145 to leave 36 after nine darts, and though he initially misses three darts at double 18 he returns to hit the bed to complete a 13-darter for the title, his first PDC ProTour triumph.
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD jumped up to third in the Betway Premier League with victories over Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis in Birmingham on Thursday, as Dave Chisnall sealed a Play-Off place.
A dramatic 13th league night of the season proved unlucky for Lewis as he saw his Play-Off hopes virtually ended by two defeats - but van Barneveld continued his brilliant form with a pair of wins to move into the top four.
The Dutchman had only escaped elimination on Judgement Night with a draw against Anderson, but he took his winning run to five successive matches as he overcame the Scot and Lewis at the Barclaycard Arena.
World Champion Anderson had taken a 4-0 lead in their contest as he punished a string of missed doubles with some superb finishing of his own, including a showpiece 125 checkout of bullseye, outer bull and bullseye.
Van Barneveld, though, clawed his way back level before punishing five misses from Anderson to lead 5-4, and though the Scot hit back with a 13-darter, two missed doubles to claim a draw in the deciding leg allowed the reigning Premier League champion to edge the win.
He then returned to the stage later in the evening and produced a sublime display to overcome Lewis 7-2, a result which moved him above Anderson in the table.
Van Barneveld took out 161 to win the opening leg, and though Lewis took out a pair of 132 checkouts - ending both on the bullseye - it was the Dutchman who reeled off four straight legs to claim the points.
"It's been an amazing night for me and I'm so proud of myself," said van Barneveld. "I was playing against two of the best players in the world and I'm really pleased.
"Adrian beat me 7-1 on the opening night with a 114 average, so it was a bit of payback for me! He's an amazing player but I put him under pressure.
"I had my back against the wall in Week Nine when I played Gary and I got the draw to stay in, but to have five straight wins since and be in the third position is great for me.
"I'm not in the Play-Offs yet, I still need wins, but I'm very proud."
The night also saw Dave Chisnall claim his Play-Off place with a 7-4 win over Lewis in the opening fixture, as the St Helens ace bounced back from a narrow loss to van Barneveld last week with a win which consolidates second place in the table.
Lewis opened the game with a 180 and led 3-1 before Chisnall turned the contest on its head with successive checkouts of 130, 116 and 104, before taking out a key 6-1 to move 5-2 up.
He added a 180 to lead 6-3, and though Lewis hit back in the next it was the 2014 Grand Slam of Darts runner-up who claimed the win to seal his spot in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 21.
"I'm delighted," said Chisnall. "I've finished well this season and that was the difference again tonight.
"The defeat last week was playing on my mind a bit before the game and I started slowly, but those three ton-plus finishes probably won me the game. Adrian missed a few darts at a double and I took my chances and scraped the win.
"Even though I'm through it's important to keep playing the darts I've been playing recently - you don't want to slack off and hopefully I can carry on winning."
Those results mean that six-time champion Phil Taylor is in danger of missing out on the Play-Offs for the first time since the Premier League was introduced in 2005, after slipping to fifth, and three points behind the top four, with a defeat to Michael van Gerwen.
Taylor, though, did little wrong as league leader van Gerwen averaged 112.91, hit five 180s and an 11-darter as he came from 3-1 down to storm to a 7-4 triumph.
"Phil played really well at the start but I was playing really well too, and when I was 3-1 down I just had to hold my own throw and try to break his, which I did," said van Gerwen.
"I'm really pleased with my own performance, and I hit the right shots at the right moments. Phil's a legend and to beat him like this means a lot to me.
"Averages are important but it's also about getting the two points and I did that tonight. I want to keep this going now in the next two weeks before the Play-Offs."
The night's other game saw James Wade and Stephen Bunting share a dramatic draw which means that the duo cannot now qualify for the Play-Offs.
A tight contest saw Bunting take out 100 before breaking throw for a 3-2 lead, only for Wade to edge ahead - but the 2009 champion missed two match darts in the deciding leg as the St Helens man stepped in to take out 120 for a point.
"I feel good and I enjoyed the game, but you obviously go up there to try and win the game and I couldn't quite do that tonight," said Bunting.
"It's been a bit of strange Premier League for me and I've not played as well as I wanted to, but I want to enjoy the last couple of weeks and pick up a couple of wins."
Wade's Play-Off challenge has faltered with four losses and two draws since Judgement Night, and he admitted: "I'm really disappointed.
"It wasn't a good enough result and I didn't play well enough - Stephen had a better game than me. If anything, I was probably a little bit too nervous and there was maybe too much respect for Stephen, but in the final two games I want to prove a point to myself."
The two remaining league nights, at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle next Thursday and at The Brighton Centre on May 14, will see four games played per night as the battle for the final two Play-Off places concludes.
A huge contest in Newcastle will see Taylor take on Anderson, while Chisnall faces Bunting, Lewis takes on van Gerwen and van Barneveld meets Wade.
Betway Premier League
Night 13, Thursday April 30
The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
Dave Chisnall 7-4 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Gary Anderson
James Wade 6-6 Stephen Bunting
Michael van Gerwen 7-4 Phil Taylor
Adrian Lewis 2-7 Raymond van Barneveld
Night 14, Thursday May 7
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
** Revised Order of Play **
Dave Chisnall v Stephen Bunting
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Tickets: 08444 93 666 or www.eventim.co.uk
Dave Chisnall v Adrian Lewis
1-0 - Lewis kicks off the match with a 180 and adds a 145 score to leave 40 after 12 darts, but misses three darts at doubles to allow Chisnall to finish 97 to hold.
1-1 - Chisnall this times opens with a maximum, but Lewis takes out 98 to avert a possible break of throw.
1-2 - Chisnall misses double 11 to finish 84, and Lewis breaks throw by landing tops.
1-3 - Double 18 sees Lewis win a third successive leg.
2-3 - Lewis fires in a 180 to leave 47, but Chisnall holds his nerve to take out a superb 130 on double five.
3-3 - Chisnall levels by breaking throw with a fine 116 checkout on tops.
4-3 - Chisnall posts his second 180 before finishing 104 on double 18 for a third ton-plus checkout in as many legs.
5-3 - Lewis misses three darts at double top and ten, allowing Chisnall in to finish 61 on double four to claim another break and a fourth successive leg.
6-3 - Chisnall opens with another maximum and finishes double 16 for a 14-darter to secure a minimum of a point.
6-4 - Chisnall fires in a 177 to leave 40, but misses three match darts to give Lewis a reprieve for two misses of his own, as the Stoke star returns to finish double one to keep the contest alive.
7-4 - Chisnall lands a fourth 180 to kick off the leg, and when needing 161 opts against throwing for the bull and instead leaves 40 - and though he initially misses three darts at tops for the match returns to land double ten to seal the win.
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
0-1 - Anderson fires in a 180 in the opening leg, and when van Barneveld misses double ten to finish 137, the World Champion lands double top for a 13-darter to break throw immediately.
0-2 - van Barneveld misses double 13 to finish 81, and Anderson takes out double ten for a 14-darter to continue his superb start.
0-3 - The reigning champion lands a 180 of his own but misses two darts at a double this time - at tops and double ten to finish 100 - to allow Anderson in to take out 125 with a showpiece bull, outer bull, bull combination to bring the Barclaycard Arena crowd to its feet.
0-4 - The pair both land 180s in the leg and miss three darts at doubles each before Anderson returns to punish the Dutchman once again, landing double five to claim a fourth straight leg.
1-4 - Double eight sees van Barneveld pick up his first leg of the game.
2-4 - van Barneveld lands a 180, and when Anderson misses tops and then bursts his score when aiming at double ten - hitting double 15 - the Dutchman breaks throw on double six.
3-4 - The reigning champion opens with a 180 and adds a 140 before finishing 76 on double 18 to reduce the gap to one leg.
4-4 - Anderson misses a dart at tops, and van Barneveld hits the same bed to finish an 80 combination as he levels the contest.
5-4 - The game takes another dramatic turn as van Barneveld moves ahead, punishing five missed doubles from Anderson by landing double four - in a let-off for four earlier missed doubles of his own.
5-5 - Anderson scores three 140s before finishing tops for a 13-darter to claim his first leg in six as he levels.
6-5 - Double 16 sees van Barneveld edge back ahead as he seals a minimum of a point.
7-5 - The duo trade 180s before Anderson misses double top and ten, and van Barneveld finishes double 16 to take a key victory.
James Wade v Stephen Bunting
1-0 - Wade pins tops to claim first blood in the opening leg.
1-1 - The 2009 champion misses one dart to break throw, and Bunting finishes 100 on double ten to level.
2-1 - Double ten sees Wade move back ahead.
2-2 - Bunting finishes 81 on double 12 to level the game.
2-3 - Bunting fires in a 180 before punishing three misses from Wade at double 12 by hitting double four to break for the first time.
3-3 - The pair trade maximums before Bunting is this time punished for two missed doubles as Wade lands double ten to level.
4-3 - Bunting posts another 180 but misses three doubles across two visits to allow Wade in on tops.
4-4 - Wade misses tops this time, allowing Bunting in to take out 101 to level.
5-4 - Wade is given a let-off for three missed doubles as he returns on double two.
5-5 - The pair trade 180s once again before Bunting finishes double 16 for a 12-dart leg to square the contest.
6-5 - Wade finishes 62 on double ten to secure at least a draw.
6-6 - Wade scores 180, 140 and 137 against the throw, but misses darts at double top and ten to claim the win, and Bunting claims a draw with a superb 120 checkout.
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
1-0 - van Gerwen finishes a 14-darter on double 16 to win the opening leg.
1-1 - Taylor takes out 89 for a 12-darter to level.
1-2 - van Gerwen misses a dart at double 18 to finish 76, allowing Taylor to break throw on double ten.
1-3 - Taylor lands double 16 to move two legs clear.
2-3 - van Gerwen fires in a 180 and takes out 48 to hit back with his first leg in four.
3-3 - The Dutchman lands a 180 for a second successive leg before finishing 88 on double 14 to break throw in 12 darts.
4-3 - van Gerwen moves back ahead with a brilliant 11-darter, scoring 180, 140 and 149 before finishing double eight to complete a superb leg.
5-3 - The pair trade 180s before van Gerwen takes out 102 on double 16 to claim another break of throw.
6-3 - van Gerwen hits a maximum for a fifth successive leg before taking out double eight, securing a point and taking his average to 112 in-running.
6-4 - Taylor lands double ten to keep his hopes alive - with van Gerwen waiting on 28.
7-4 - van Gerwen, with the advantage of throw, pins double 16 to seal the win, ending with a 112.91 average.
Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld
0-1 - Lewis misses tops to take the opening leg, and van Barneveld breaks with a superb 161 checkout.
0-2 - Double one sees the reigning champion move two legs up.
1-2 - Lewis takes out 132 on the bull to hit back.
1-3 - van Barneveld finishes 80 on tops to win a third leg.
2-3 - The Dutchman lands a 180, but Lewis takes out 132 once more to win his second leg of the game.
2-4 - van Barneveld hits back to restore his cushion.
2-5 - The Dutchman lands a 180 before being given a reprieve for two missed doubles as he returns on double seven for another break of throw.
2-6 - Double 16 sees van Barneveld seal at least a point, ensuring that he ends the night unbeaten from his two
2-7 - Lewis opens with a 180, but misses three darts to keep his hopes alive as van Barneveld steps in on double 15 to claim the win - moving himself up to third in the league table.