Live Darts on Thursday May 17: Premier League Darts 2018 Play-Offs preview

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The final four pictured with the trophy (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The 2018 Premier League season reaches an unmissable climax at The O2 on Thursday as the crème de la Prem battle it out for the right to be crowned champion.

A 15-week tour has seen the sport's elite invitational touch down in vast arenas across the UK and Ireland, as well as Berlin and Rotterdam, now all eyes are on London's O2 Arena as the top four collide on a date with destiny.

The Last Four line-up is comprised of two multiple Premier League champions and two players entering uncharted territory after a superb round-robin campaign.

The opening Semi-Final sees friends become enemies on the big stage as two-time champion Gary Anderson takes on surprise package Michael Smith.

Anderson is appearing on finals night for the sixth time, and is bidding to follow up his triumphs in 2011 and 2015 to join Michael van Gerwen on three Premier League titles.

The reigning UK Open champion timed his run to perfection having spent the first seven weeks outside the top four before a run of seven wins in his last ten games saw him surge to a third place finish.

The Flying Scotsman recorded a sensational win over rival MVG in Aberdeen last week to lay down a timely marker ahead of his trip to the capital and will be keen to start off by dishing out a harsh lesson to his darting protege.

Smith has enjoyed a remarkable second stint in the competition after missing out last year following his disappointing debut in 2016 which saw him eliminated at the halfway stage with just one win to his name.

The St Helens star has come of age both on and off the oche since then and has fully justified his wildcard selection this season by finishing second in the time, just three points adrift of Van Gerwen.

Smith made a blistering start with seven wins from his first eight fixtures before recovering from a mid-season blip to cement his play-off place and remain in firm contention for a first major title.

Smith was a 7-5 winner in the first meeting between the two in Week One before Anderson exacted his revenge with a 7-2 rout and a 109.9 average in Rotterdam last month.

The second Semi-Final features a repeat of an epic World Championship Semi last December as reigning and three-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen takes on World Champion Rob Cross.

Van Gerwen has stormed to the top of the table for the sixth consecutive season and is bidding to maintain his record of having also reached the final in each of his Premier League campaigns.

The world number one, a winner of four European Tour titles and The Unibet Masters already this year, is chasing down Phil Taylor's record tally of six Premier League crowns and is undoubtedly the man to beat on finals night once again.

He won nine of his opening ten league fixtures and recovered well from back-to-back defeats in Rotterdam by going on to clinch the £25,000 league winner's bonus with a tournament average of 103.5.

Cross, meanwhile, has enjoyed a impressive debut campaign, securing a fourth place finish after a shaky start which saw him lose his opening two games with just three legs to his name.

The world number three has remained inside the top four since Week Five of the competition despite ending the regular season without a win in his last five matches.

Cross withdrew from the weekend's Dutch Masters after struggling with damaged cartilages in his sternum which has affected his breathing and sleeping, but is adamant he will be fighting fit for finals night.

Since edging that classic Ally Pally Semi-Final in a sudden death decider, Cross has suffered back-to-back 7-2 defeats to a fired-up MVG - and faces a formidable test over the extended legs format which has served the Dutchman well down the years.

The action gets underway from 7pm BST, with Semi-Final matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs and the final best of 21 legs.

The winner will scoop the £250,000 first prize, with the runner-up receiving £120,000 and losing semi-finalists taking home £80,000.

Unibet Premier League 2018 Schedule

Thursday May 17


Michael Smith v Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross


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Live Darts on Thursday May 17: Premier League Darts 2018 Play-Offs preview

The 2018 Premier League season reaches an unmissable climax at The O2 on Thursday as the crème de la Prem battle it out for the right to be crowned champion.

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