There are certain things in life about which yours truly would be very sporadic. Reading absolutely sitting atop any such ensemble. But there are other occupants. Some of which may well be familiar to regular callers in this space.
Watching tennis during Wimbledon, Cricket if The Ashes are on at Christmas, snooker at Crucible time. You get the picture. Mind you, the flipside also applies. As in, there are sports which it feels decidedly odd watching at certain times of the year.
Golf in winter, Flat racing at the back end of the year. Basketball or soccer during the summer. Likewise for darts. Once the clocks go forward, it tends to slip down the pecking order. Being far more associated with putting in the long winter evenings.
Yet there have to be exceptions to every rule. Even if it is only of thumb. When it comes to watching darts, Premier League Finals Night at the O2 in London is a non negotiable.
Of course, the name is a little bit misleading. There’s only one final, but the two semi finals are the ‘undercard’ to the showpiece which takes 18 weeks to arrive at.
The thing is, despite all the fluctuating results which occurred over the course of the regulation matches, it wouldn’t have taken Mystic Meg to estimate who the final four might be.
Though it would be wagered that even the late clarevoyant would have got hard to foresee how the action would pan out over the course of the three matches. One characteristic which repeatedly cropped up during the league campaign was players having spells of dominance.
For those not regularly attuned to the world of tungsten throwing, the format of the Cazoo sponsored competition altered some years ago to the effect that there are no longer draws therein. Instead, having four quarter finals, two semis and a final at each venue. Personally, the jury is still very much out on the new-ish system.
Is a league really a league if it doesn’t allow for draws? It all seems far too American-ised to me. Just as if scores do finish level in American Football or Basketball, they just keep playing until they arrive at a winner.
Anyway, while the make up of the final four – Michael Smith, Gerwyn Price, Michael Van Gerwen and Jonny Clayton – would’ve been no surprise, the action on the oche definitely would have raised a few eyebrows.
For a few reasons. In most recent times, Price has looked nigh on unplayable. Which is exactly as it turned out here in the latest Welsh derby. Opening up a lead of 7-1 before closing out a 10-2 demolition of his compatriot Clayton.
In the second semi, the score may have read 10-8 to the Green Machine, but that was solely because Smith found something from somewhere as the true champions always do to haul himself up by the boot laces.
For context, though, consider that Van Gerwen’s participation in Thursday’s competition was actually in doubt after he had to pull out of last week’s semi final in Aberdeen due to a shoulder injury.
One would have thought a shoulder injury to a darts player would be akin to a broken hand to a writer. Then again, with MVG normalcy need not apply. He did, after all, play in the two floor events in Leicester last weekend. That said, unlikely as it might seem, it could have been said that the great Dutchman hadn’t in fact won one of the nights since winning three on the trot beginning in Dublin. Whilst at the same time Price was emerging from a slump – if you could title it thus – of his own and has been winning all round him ever since and has been burying 180s like dogs do bones.
Using those metrics then – aligned with Van Gerwen’s injury issues – it could safely have been assumed The Iceman held all the aces going into last night’s decider. And it’s not as if the former played badly in the final, taking out a tonne plus finish. The problem for him was his opponent managed two of them – including a 170 – on the way to recording a seventh Premier League outright success, thus usurping the record set by Phil Taylor.
Who knows what the new record will end up standing at!