The 2014 Premier League Darts season is nearing its conclusion, with Thursday's stop in Newcastle being the tournament's penultimate event before the four highest-ranked players face off in the play-offs.
Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld had a chance to officially qualify for said play-offs in a head-to-head between the two Dutch heavyweights, while the winner of the match between Phil Taylor and Peter Wright would boost his chances of a spot in the top four.
Read on for full results as well as updated Premier League standings following the Newcastle leg:
|Premier League Darts: Newcastle scores|
|Gary Anderson||7-4||Dave Chisnall|
|Adrian Lewis||7-5||Robert Thornton|
|Phil Taylor||6-6||Peter Wright|
|Raymond van Barneveld||4-7||Michael van Gerwen|
|Premier League Standings|
|1||Michael van Gerwen||15||10||2||3||22|
|2||Raymond van Barneveld||15||7||6||2||20|
Gary Anderson needed to defeat the already eliminated Dave Chisnall to keep up with the top four, and he did just that, beating the experienced Brit 7-4.
Both players kept things tight until 3-3 before Anderson shifted gear, opening with a 180 and keeping a high three-dart average on his way to a 6-3 lead and an eventual win.
Anderson knew he needed to win this match against an opponent who had been unlucky coming into the night, as he told PDC.tv:
Chizzy's been brilliant this season. He's been so unlucky to get the losses he has had with the way he's played, but it's very competitive this year and the Premier League's full of great players.
The win keeps Anderson in the race for a top-four finish, but he'll have his work cut out in the tournament's final week against Van Barneveld.
Adrian Lewis and Robert Thornton both came into Thursday's match already out of play-off contention, and their main job was to warm up the crowd for the night's two main attractions.
Both put up a fantastic show, with Lewis eventually emerging victorious by a score of 7-5. Thornton had taken the first two legs before Jackpot tied things up, and the players exchanged blows for much of the night on their way to 5-5.
A crucial late miss by Thornton gave the leg to his opponent, and with a chance to claim the win, Jackpot hit his fourth 180 of the night before finishing the match with a double five.
After such a great match, the crowd were thoroughly ready for the night's two remaining encounters, and as shared by Betway, the turnout in Newcastle was one of the best we've seen this season:
Phil Taylor and Peter Wright rounded out the top four coming into Thursday and neither could afford to lose. A 6-6 tie ensures the final Premier League stop will be one of the most dramatic in its short history.
The 6-6 final score accurately represented how closely both players matched each other, as neither was able to break away for more than a one-leg lead. The Power had a chance to win it when up 6-5 and needing a double 16, but a miss gave the leg to his opponent, setting up a dramatic final showdown.
Taylor told PDC.tv he purposely didn't play in last weekend's tournaments because he was so intent on beating Wright:
I'm really up for it and I opted not to play in the two tournaments last weekend to get myself ready for this - that's how important it is to me.
It's a race for the ticker-tape now, so everybody's going to push forward and the pressure's on. I've been very impressed by Peter this season.
He's been confident and I think he's wound a few players up and they've bitten to it, but he's doing it on the board, he's hitting the right shot that's hurting players and the other players don't know how to handle it.
This particular fan thought he did enough to book his spot in the play-offs:
Taylor will play the already eliminated Thornton in his final match while Wright will have to take on Van Gerwen, so the advantage definitely sits with The Power as we draw closer to the play-offs.
Speaking of Van Gerwen, the tournament's leader bested compatriot Van Barneveld 7-4 to book his spot in the play-offs, and as shared by Live Darts, he did it in spectacular fashion:
Van Barneveld held the advantage early as Van Gerwen seemed to have a problem finishing, missing three darts in the opening leg and again missing in the third. But down 3-1, the reigning champion suddenly found his groove, winning four straight and the final two, including 132 on the bull.
Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld have officially booked their tickets for the play-offs, while three players will battle it out for the remaining two spots.
Sitting third, Taylor will have the advantage, and a win by any score over Thornton will see him qualify. The same goes for Anderson, who will take on Van Barneveld while Wright will have to beat Van Gerwen and hope one of the men before him fall at the last hurdle.