Belfast Telegraph

Daryl Gurney can reach 'another level' in quest to win Premier League title tonight

 

Mighty task: Daryl Gurney (right) takes on Michael van Gerwen tonight
Mighty task: Daryl Gurney (right) takes on Michael van Gerwen tonight

By Robert Jones

Daryl Gurney is one win away from making history and moving one step closer to clinching his biggest ever tournament success.

The Londonderry thrower takes on Michael van Gerwen in the opening semi-final of the Unibet Premier League at The O2 in London tonight.

A win over the Dutchman would be his third successive triumph against the four-time champion - the first time this feat would have been accomplished in the history of the event.

But for the man known as Superchin, his main aim is to get a place in the final and a crack at either James Wade or former world champion Rob Cross.

Gurney's victory over Michael Smith on Night 16 in Leeds meant the Ulsterman finished fourth in just his second Premier League campaign.

"I'm absolutely delighted to make it to The O2, it really is a dream come true and now anything is possible," said Gurney, who defeated Van Gerwen to win the Players Championship Finals last November.

"To play in front of a massive crowd at such a famous darts venue is another tick in the box of what I want to achieve in my career and I'm already looking forward to it.

"Of the four players I'll probably be the fourth favourite, but being the underdog doesn't bother me as I know what I can do.

"Whenever the pressure is on me, for some reason I play my best darts. When I'm playing the best players in the world it takes me to another level and that's what I'll be aiming to reproduce in London."

And Van Gerwen, the reigning champion, is ratcheting up the pressure on the man from the north west before they hit the oche.

The world champion is seeking to avenge his defeats to Gurney but insists that he has his sights firmly set on maintaining his bid for the £250,000 top prize.

"Daryl played really well against me the last two times we played in the Premier League but I'm always confident," said Mighty Mike, who could equal Phil Taylor's record of four successive Premier League titles with victory tonight.

"It's a longer format but I have to do well and we'll see what's going to happen. First to 10 is totally different, the pressure will be on his shoulders.

"It would be phenomenal to win a fifth Premier League title and it's always a special night in the Play-Offs. We've been playing for 16 weeks and now it's knockout - it's all or nothing.

"I need to make sure I get focused because it's really important for me to do well."

The second semi-final will see 2009 champion Wade take on Cross in a repeat of last Thursday's clash in Leeds, which saw the former run out 8-6 winner.

Wade will make his first Play-Offs appearance since 2013 and, looking ahead to his return to The O2, was feeling confident about his chances of doubling his Premier League title tally.

"It's been a long time since I've been in the Play-Offs but I've been playing professional darts for so long now that the pressure shouldn't get to me," said Wade.

"I expect myself to make the final but it would be so nice to win it. It's a prestigious event, against the best players in the world, so I can look forward to the Play-Offs.

"Last week's game against Rob won't mean anything - it wasn't a knockout game and if anything I cost Rob £25,000 (in bonus prize money) so it will give him a bit of fuel! But I'll be ready for him.

"There are better players than me and far more flamboyant players, but I know what I'm capable of."

Cross will be making his second successive Play-Offs appearance in as many Premier League campaigns, having suffered a semi-final defeat to Van Gerwen at last year's event.

The 2018 world champion was hampered by a sternum injury in last year's Play-Offs, and is looking forward to enjoying the experience this time around.

"Last year I was really struggling with my injury," said Cross.

"To win the Premier League would be amazing for me, there's only a very elite group of players to have achieved it and I would love to join that list."

  • The Unibet Premier League Play-Offs will be shown live on Sky Sports tonight (7pm)

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