Premier League Roundup After Night 16
The 16th and final night of league phase action saw the last four matches of a unique season take place, with five players vying for the final three qualifying places.
Aspinall ended a sensational debut campaign in style, defeating Glen Durrant 8-2 to book his place at The O2 on October 22.
The tie was the last of the night, meaning Aspinall knew a draw would be enough to seal a top four place, and after winning his seventh leg – taking out 124 on the bull to follow an earlier 170 checkout – the former UK Open champion released an outpouring of emotion.
“What a feeling – I can’t explain how proud of myself I am and how happy I am,” said Aspinall, two years to the day since winning his first PDC title.
“I’ve put the whole family through the ringer the last few weeks but to achieve this, I’m so proud of myself.
“I was getting very excited on stage, I hope Glen understood that my emotions were running high tonight. It means so much to me.
“Now I want to win the Premier League and I think I’m ready to do it.”
Aspinall will be joined in London by fellow debutant Durrant, who becomes the third player in the tournament’s history – behind Phil Taylor and Van Gerwen – to top the league table, earning himself a £25,000 bonus.
Former Premier League runner-up Wright will also return to finals night for the first time since 2017, though his qualification was already guaranteed before his meeting with Michael Smith.
The World Champion’s fate was sealed after five-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen’s crushing 8-2 defeat to Daryl Gurney.
Van Gerwen, who has topped the league phase every year since his 2013 debut, suffered a disappointing end to a difficult campaign.
Heading into the game, Van Gerwen knew he needed at least a point to keep his top four hopes alive, but Gurney showed no mercy as he raced into a 6-0 lead.
The world number one was made to pay for his 11 missed double attempts and was unable to find anywhere near his best form to mount a comeback.
Gurney’s victory meant Wright was already assured of his place in the top four, but the World Champion ended the regular season with an 8-5 win over Smith.
“I just wanted to win and finish second, and I didn’t know what the situation was if I got a draw,” said Wright. “I’m happy with the result but it was always going to be difficult.
“I was fifth when the Premier League started again and your target is to finish in the top four so I’ve done that – but the job’s not done yet and I want to win the trophy now.
“I’ll be glad to get home now and I’ve got time before the finals, and I’ll be fresh for that.”
Despite going down 8-3 to rival Gerwyn Price, Anderson’s hopes of a third Premier League title remain alive.
A repeat of the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts final saw Price average 107.7 as he took full advantage of a below-par Anderson, who appeared to be struggling throughout with an arm problem.
However, results elsewhere meant Anderson took the fourth qualifying place, while Price ended just the wrong side of the cut-off in fifth.
Van Gerwen ended the campaign in the unfamiliar position of sixth in the standings, ahead of Smith and Gurney.
Northern Ireland’s Gurney had escaped elimination on Judgement Night as he revived his season in Milton Keynes, and said: “I’m glad I got the two points tonight because I wanted to get to double figures.
“I’ve enjoyed the season but I blew a lot of chances. For this last two weeks I’ve enjoyed the pressure of sharing that practice room with the best players in the world.
“Even though I finished bottom, I’ve loved every minute and it’s my own fault that I’ve not finished in a higher position.
“It’s my third Premier League, I’ve probably enjoyed it more than the previous two years and I want to be here next year.”
The Unibet Premier League Play-Offs will take place at The O2, London on Thursday October 22, featuring the semi-finals and final as the top four compete for the £250,000 top prize.
Durrant will play Anderson in the opening semi-final, while Wright will face Aspinall in the other last four contest.
Unibet Premier League
Saturday September 5
Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Gerwyn Price 8-3 Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney 8-2 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 8-5 Michael Smith
Nathan Aspinall 8-2 Glen Durrant
Thursday October 22
The O2, London
Glen Durrant v Gary Anderson
Peter Wright v Nathan Aspinall
Best of 19 legs
Durrant/Anderson v Wright/Aspinall
Best of 21 legs
**IMAGES AND WRITEUP COURTESY OF PDC.TV**