McCoy's Premier League Darts 2012 Week 2 Preview
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With only 14 weeks of action in total for the eight players involved, every game is pivotal if they hope to be in receipt of the winner's trophy come May 17.
Week 1 of the McCoy's Premier League darts got off to a flyer. The unexpected results in a couple of the match-ups make Week 2 quite intriguing.
The first game of the night pits current world champion Adrian Lewis against crowd favourite Raymond van Barneveld. The Barney Army will be hoping Jackpot takes his foot of the gas in the same way he did against Phil Taylor last week. If he doesn't, Barney may struggle to keep up with the scoring of the Stoke native.
Up next, Gary Anderson aims to register his first points of the competition in front of his loyal Scottish following against Andy Hamilton. The Scot, defending his Premier League title, will know the importance of a win here. Much to his detriment, The Hammer will have to overcome a sold-out Aberdeen crowd if he is to maintain his grip on the top spot.
The penultimate match-up will feature old enemies Phil Taylor and Kevin Painter. The Artist will need to bring the form of his Players Championship win to the oche if he hopes to beat The Power. Taylor showed a real grit last week to rescue a draw while Painter conquered Gary Anderson for a surprising debut Premier League win.
The final and potentially best game of the night sees Simon Whitlock throwing against James Wade. The Wizard is coming off a draw in the first week of the league and a final appearance in the World Cup of Darts. Wade, on the other hand, slumped to a first week 8-5 loss to Hamilton and will need to rectify that form or risk being blown away by the Aussie.
Adrian Lewis vs. Ramond Van Barneveld
Adrian ''Jackpot'' Lewis
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Reigning world champion Adrian Lewis meets Raymond van Barneveld in the opening game of Week 2 with both men coming off the back of hard-fought draws.
Jackpot will have been disappointed to allow a five-leg lead slip away as Phil Taylor claimed a point in the final game of Week 1. Barney, on the other hand, clinched two legs on the bounce from 7-5 to level at seven apiece against Simon Whitlock.
The inconsistency of van Barneveld is always a problem when he takes to the stage. He has suffered badly with self-confidence issues, which is incredible for a five-time world champion. A rather worrying statistic is that he hasn't won a major tournament since 2007.
If Barney fails to bring his A game on Thursday, he will face a massive struggle in Aberdeen.
Lewis has been in excellent form of late. Aside from winning his second world title against Andy Hamilton, he added the World Cup of Darts to his resume on Feb. 5 partnering Phil Taylor to victory over Australia.
Week 1 saw Jackpot allow a large lead to slip. I don't see the same happening again this week. While Barney has the ability, Lewis is currently at the peak of his powers.
The 27-year-old will have too much in reserve for his opponent. I expect him to be too prolific in both scoring and finishing and should have a leg or two to spare.
Gary Anderson vs. Andy Hamilton
Gary ''The Flying Scotsman'' Anderson
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If this game was anywhere but Aberdeen in Scotland, I would be fancying Andy Hamilton to come out on top of this tussle.
The Hammer has been truly solid of late. Reaching the final of the 2012 World Championship, he lost 7-3 to Lewis. He has used this as a positive, claiming a win in his first-ever Premier League game against James Wade last week.
The consistency of Hamilton is what he will be looking for this week against Anderson. He knows he will be outscored, but his dependability on the double could see him through. He's not phased by the company he finds himself in and will always be a threat regardless of the opponent.
The Flying Scotsman takes to the oche against Hamilton after a narrow loss to Kevin Painter. Anderson dropped the first five legs in a row, something you cannot do against the caliber of opponents in the Premier League.
I don't see the same thing happening again this week. If Anderson can get amongst the trebles, there is no bigger or more fluent scorer in darts. If he affords Hamilton the luxury of a big early lead, he will be punished.
The current Premier League champion is known to struggle under pressure with his doubles. This week in front of a partisan crowd, I think he will rise to the occasion. Two defeats on the bounce would be catastrophic to his chances of defending his title.
Expect this to be close.
Phil Taylor vs. Kevin Painter
Phil ''The Power'' Taylor
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Kevin Painter will view this as an opportunity to gauge how far his game has really come. After his debut win against James Wade last week and his first major championship win in December, he will be brimming with confidence.
For a lot of players, that confidence can quickly evaporate when facing the tungsten of Phil Taylor. Since the pair met in the final of the 2004 World Championship it has been all one-way traffic in terms of results. Unfortunately for The Artist, it has been Taylor dominating their head-to-head meetings.
Since that 2004 final, Taylor has won all three of their World Championship meetings in 2005, 2006 and 2009. If Painter wants to end this TV tournament dominance, he needs to calm his nerves and play the board.
Thinking back to the 2005 World Championship and Taylor's mind games of attempting numerous Bull finishes, you know Painter is mentally susceptible.
The 15-time world champion showed his worth last week when coming behind from a five-leg deficit to draw with Adrian Lewis. He knows historically that he has the psychological edge on Painter and needs to win here to keep pace.
Experience counts in these tournaments and the fact that this is Painter's debut Premier League season gives The Power an advantage.
Painter may have had laser-eye surgery and has shown significant improvement in his game, but Taylor will be victorious with a few legs to spare.
Simon Whitlock vs. James Wade
Simon ''The Wizard'' Whitlock
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This game is a tale of two contrasting fortunes. The memories of Wade blowing a 5-1 lead to lose 6-5 against Adrian Lewis in the 2012 World Championship semi-final are still fresh in the memory.
The Machine slumped to an 8-5 loss against Andy Hamilton last week and the task at hand in Week 2 is even more daunting. Fail to claim a point here and the world No. 3 could find himself well adrift of the pace setters.
Whitlock, on the other hand, has had an excellent last four months. The Wizard lost in the semi-final of the World Championship to Andy Hamilton, playing on a broken ankle. This was followed up by a World Cup of Darts final loss to England alongside Paul Nicholson in early February.
Last week, Whitlock dropped a 7-5 lead against Ray van Barneveld but will be satisfied with his standard of darts. One of the best finishers in the game, the Aussie knows he has the talent to compete with Wade.
I don't know if Wade is 100 percent mentally there at the moment. If the real James Wade turns up, he can win. I fear that won't be the case.