Van Barneveld eliminated from Premier League in Rotterdam
Raymond van Barneveld’s final Premier League season will end tomorrow night following a thrashing by Daryl Gurney in Rotterdam, which sealed his fate of elimination before Judgement Night.
The great Dutchman announced late last year that he’d be hanging up the darts after the 2019/20 World Championship, and after a wildcard Premier League selection, hopes were high of a fairytale final year. However, the five-time World Champion never really got going, only winning one game in his first seven and failing to average above 96 once. His ProTour final appearance should help get him at least to Ally Pally, but that is no guarantee so Thursday’s departing tie with Michael van Gerwen could be the final time ‘Barney’ appears on our TV screens.
Since this tournament started stopping off at Rotterdam in 2016, the Van Barneveld walk-ons have always been the highlight of the evening with 12000 Dutch fans wearing orange singing his name, and tonight was no different, Daryl Gurney’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ entrance contributing to a phenomenal atmosphere. That was short-lived, though, as the former Premier League champion seemed to be struggling with his sight and quickly fell two legs behind, only finding two scores of 100 or more.
A 180 helped him to his first leg, but a breeze across the stage which other players questioned earlier in the night wasn’t helping, and Gurney struggled to each leg unspectacular, in a game which rapidly became a tough watch for all romantic sports fans, seeing one of the all-time greats crash out in front of his adoring fans for the final time. Three missed darts at double in the eighth leg sealed Van Barneveld’s fate; a 7-1 loss with an average of just 82 and resultant elimination.
We can only hope ‘Barney’ can salvage some pride on Thursday against Michael van Gerwen, who saw off Peter Wright by the same scoreline. European Darts Open champion at the weekend, ‘Mighty Mike’ stormed into a 3-0 lead with an astronomical average, and edged towards a second Premier League whitewash of 2019, but ‘Snakebite’ finally got a leg on the board with double 16. A 16-darter in the eighth leg was enough to see MVG back to the top of the league after Rob Cross lost to Mensur Suljović.
‘Voltage’ was continuing his recent form and seemed to be set to extend his lead at the summit, averaging over 100 in taking the first four legs. A 13-darter made it 5-1, but the 2018 World Champion then missed a dart for a point and the Austrian won two consecutive legs on double 14. Despite being nowhere near his best, Suljović somehow made a contest of it and dragged Cross’ standard down.
The Hastings thrower missed an incredible seven darts to stop the rot and go within one, but ‘The Gentle’ took out 136 before a similarly impressive ‘Shanghai’ checkout in the final leg to steal all two points and cement his place in the top four, against all the odds. Matchday 8’s ‘contender’, Dimitri Van den Bergh, surged into a 2-0 lead against James Wade, before ‘The Machine’ decided that the aforementioned draught was enough to walk off the stage for.
After a brief interlude, the players returned to action amongst a chorus of boos, and Wade came out firing, getting back on level terms courtesy of a 106-out. Two sensational 12-darters from the Belgian including a 140 finish restored his cushion, though, before the pattern continued as the European Champion won the next two. A high-quality display from both players wasn’t relenting as ‘The Dream-maker’ pinned a third 12-darter for 5-4 before Wade broke the trend for 5-5.
A slightly more nervous final two legs followed as Aldershot’s Wade squandered chances for a 6-5 lead before Van den Bergh missed a solitary match dart and the Englishman punished him for a draw. Van den Bergh becomes the fourth ‘contender’ to take a point off their opponent, which means it all comes down to Jeffrey de Zwaan on Thursday to determine if they will go the season winless.
The other game in Rotterdam saw an important meeting between Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith. A scrappy first three legs, which Smith took two of, were followed by a stunning 11-darter from Price for 2-2. Three consecutive breaks of throw meant ‘The Bullyboy’ had the slight advantage, but Price’s 141 checkout kept him in it at 5-4. What turned out to be the highest finish of the night couldn’t inspire the Welshman to a win, however, as he missed three darts for a point and Smith took advantage with a 90-out on the bull.
Raymond van Barneveld’s elimination means the play-off battle ramps up in earnest on Thursday with all five games crucial in setting the scene for the second stage. It will certainly be an emotional night at the Ahoy Arena as ‘Barney’ says goodbye on what will hopefully be a better all-round quality round than Wednesday with the night’s average just 93.
2019 Premier League
Night Eight – Wednesday March 27
Gerwyn Price 5-7 Michael Smith
James Wade 6-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Rob Cross 5-7 Mensur Suljović
Peter Wright 1-7 Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld 1-7 Daryl Gurney
Judgement Night – Thursday March 28
Daryl Gurney v Mensur Suljović
Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Michael Smith