The Premier League Darts season is almost upon us once more, and this 2020 campaign looks set to be one of the most exciting editions yet.
There’s one simple reason for that: rivalries.
For many of the Premier League players, darts is intensely personal – these guys play each other so much on tour that the animosity and professional rivalry is continuously building. Here are four match-ups that traditionally bring the very best out of those involved.
Michael van Gerwen vs Gerwyn Price
In the second half of 2019, Gerwyn Price finally transformed his undoubted potential into tangible results, winning the Grand Slam of Darts and reaching the finals of the European Championship and the Players Championship.
That ascension has put the Welshman on a collision course with Michael van Gerwen, a player who he incredibly lost each of his first 15 meetings with! But a draw in the Premier League of 2019 must have instilled some confidence in the Iceman because three last-leg defeats followed prior to him finally beating the Dutchman for the first time: 16-12 in the semi-finals of the Grand Slam in November.
The duo has spoken of their respect for one another, but there’s no love lost when they collide on the oche, and this looks set to be a tasty rivalry that runs through the 2020 Premier League campaign and beyond.
Michael van Gerwen vs Rob Cross
March 5th, 2016: a date that would change the face of darts forever.
It was then that Rob Cross, still an amateur back then with a day job as an electrician, gave Michael van Gerwen an almighty shock in the UK Open – MVG eventually winning 9-5. But that was the jolt that Voltage needed to become a professional darts player, and less than a year later he had accomplished the feat.
Numerous contests with the Dutchman have followed, and while MVG boasts a handsome 19-3 head-to-head lead over Cross, it was one of the rare defeats that fans most talk about to this day. That came in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Championships when the pair put on a tungsten highlight reel of the highest order. But it was Cross who would come out on top, and his six sets to five victory was a precursor to making history in becoming world champion in his first season as a professional.
In 2019, Cross went right off the boil and van Gerwen took full advantage, winning all six of their meetings, including an 11-5 triumph in the final of the Premier League.
What will 2020 bring for this burgeoning rivalry par excellence?
Gary Anderson vs Peter Wright
Often regarded as the clown prince of darts due to his wacky outfits and garish hairstyle, Peter Wright finally showed his serious side by winning the 2020 World Championships – defeating van Gerwen in the final. Snakebite has not enjoyed much luck in major finals, although he did team up with his bitter nemesis-turned-friend Gary Anderson to lift the World Cup for Scotland in the summer.
These two really did not like each other in the past, but they seem to have healed old wounds and now their rivalry is a professional, rather than personal, one. They only met four times in 2019, due largely to Anderson’s ongoing injury problems, with Wright winning all four of those meetings in Players Championship events. All-time, the Flying Scotsman leads Wright in the head-to-head stakes with 26 wins to 17.
Gary Anderson vs Gerwyn Price
For all the preening and peacockery that goes on during many darts matches on the TV stage, it’s rare for any animosity to spill over into physical contact. But that’s exactly what happened when Gerwyn Price met Gary Anderson in an explosive Grand Slam of Darts final back in November 2018.
Incensed with Price’s extremely loud celebrations when winning a leg, and the inordinate amount of time it was taking him to retrieve his darts, an increasingly frustrated Anderson eventually snapped and shoved the Welshman. A lot of finger-wagging and staring followed, but fortunately nothing else came of the incident – apart from a record £20,000 fine dished out to Price, that is, although that was halved on appeal.
Thankfully, in a way, Anderson’s absence from the tour through injury meant there was plenty of time for the rift to heal, and they did not face off again until July in the World Series, which Price won 8-6. Ironically, their second and final meeting of 2019 came at the Grand Slam, where Price was once again the victor in an incident-less encounter. But with Anderson back to full fitness, his rivalry with the Iceman – and the others listed in this guide – will all be epic to watch unfold in the Premier League of 2020.