After 15 months, the world of darts has a new world number one.
At the age of 52, Peter Wright has succeeded Gerwyn Price at the top of the PDC’s Order of Merit.
Snakebite’s rise to the top was cemented by The Iceman’s failure to make it to the final in last weekend’s UK Open.
It was a UK Open that delivered us another new PDC major open winner and also saw Michael Smith lose in yet another final.
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Holland’s Danny Noppert, who only averaged in the mid-80s in the final, was the shock winner of the year’s second major after inflicting ever more major final misery on Bully Boy with an 11-10 victory in Minehead Resort Butlins.
That result followed on from Thursday’s Premier League of Darts Night Four in Exeter where Noppie’s fellow countryman Michael van Gerwen put on a masterclass when whitewashing Peter Wright in the Premier League Darts Week Five final.
Despite that result, and subsequent below-par performance at the UK Open, Wright is the new world number one and occupier of the top spot of the Darts Premier League after four nights.
This week, the Scotsman takes on Jonny Clayton in the second match of the night as week five heads to Brighton.
Gary Anderson v Michael Smith
The night opens with a clash between the bottom two as two-time Premier League of Darts winner Gary Anderson takes on Jonny Clayton.
So far, both players have only one win to their name so something’s going to give in this opener.
We’re leaning towards Bully Boy given how well he performed when beating both Gerwyn Price and Keane Barry in Minehead a few days ago.
Of course, he suffered final heartbreak once again — not even for the first time this year — will feel like this last event was one that really was there for the taking.
Apart from somehow managing to let the final slip, Bully Boy enjoyed a great tournament overall, averaging near to 100 before his clash with Noppert, and even fired in a nine-dart finish as well as the most ever number of 180s that we have ever seen in a UK Open.
He is getting closer and will surely get there one day.
Smith will need to pick up the pieces to get going, where he should start the healing process against Anderson this week.
One week ago in Exeter, he got his first points on the boards with his first Darts Premier League win before running into a back-in-form Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals. He looks as though he is finding the kind of form which helped him reach the World Championship final.
As for Gary Anderson, he too has managed one solitary victory so far in this campaign and that was on Night One. He doesn’t look in particularly good shape, so the nod goes to his opponent.
Peter Wright v Jonny Clayton
The night’s glamour match features the new world number one taking on Jonny Clayton as the best two players of the last 12 months meet head-on in the second clash of the night.
Wright is only the 11th different player ever to top the rankings in PDC history, positing wins over Joe Cullen and Simon Whitlock in Minehead, before suffering a collapse in a 10-7 defeat to William O’Connor which came about despite averaging 101 to his opponent’s 94.
One week ago in Exeter, he averaged over 100 during his Darts Premier League wins over Gerwyn Price and James Wade before being whitewashed in the final by the superb Mighty Michael van Gerwen.
This pair met in week one in the final in Cardiff where Wright came out on top. The Ferret has dipped a little bit in recent weeks since winning on night two.
That said, he is more than capable of causing Snakebite considerable damage and will be out for revenge here.
That though may not be enough, and we would expect to see the world champion go through to the semi-finals and possibly further.
James Wade v Michael van Gerwen
Despite roaring back to form in last week’s Darts Premier League, Michael van Gerwen showed how streaky he can be when suffering an early exit at the UK Open after a 10-4 defeat to Damon Heta where he missed six of his 10 darts at doubles.
James Wade surrendered his UK Open title at the weekend where he failed to make it past the quarter-final.
The Machine was also unusually sloppy on his doubles, missing 11 of his 15 attempts in his defeat to Keane Barry, and a similar performance on the outer ring this week will surely be punished by MVG.
Joe Cullen v Gerwyn Price
A gutted Gerwyn Price must pick himself up and go again after losing his world number one ranking at the weekend.
The Welshman looked crushed following his 10-7 UK Open defeat to Michael Smith in the quarter-finals.
This is a nice game for him to bounce back in, however, particularly given the Price will be seeking revenge over The Rockstar for his win in Liverpool.
The new world number two is favoured to go through to the next round, where he is likely to face Michael van Gerwen in a red hot semi-final clash.
BET365 DARTS BETTING PRICES
The latest lines from Bet365 as we head into Night 5 of the Darts Premier League.
Gary Anderson (13/10) V (8/13) Michael Smith
Peter Wright (4/6) V (6/5) Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen (4/11) v (11/5) James Wade
Joe Cullen (7/4) v (4/9) Gerwyn Price
PREMIER LEAGUE OF DARTS TABLE
|Michae van Gerwen
QUICK GLANCE AT THE PREMIER LEAGUE OF DARTS WEEK 5
Venue: The Brighton Centre, Brighton
Format: Best of 11 legs (first to six)
Current Champion: Jonny Clayton
Where To Watch: Sky Sports Main Event HD & Sky Sports Arena HD
When To Watch: 19:00 UK