Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Michael Smith
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD
Raymond van Barneveld was beaten 7-2 by league leader Michael van Gerwen last Thursday night in Belfast. The loss ended a run of three Premier League matches without defeat for Barney.
Van Gerwen won six consecutive legs to surge away to victory after Barney had led 2-1. Barney wasn’t without chances though, as he had darts at doubles in four of those six legs.
Overall, his tournament checkout percentage is 37.2%, with only Gerwyn Price and Daryl Gurney having a lower success rate on the doubles.
Michael Smith sits handily in second place in the league table. Last Thursday, he enjoyed a comfortable 7-2 win against Gerwyn Price in Belfast and in doing so he bounced straight back from his defeat against Michael van Gerwen the previous week
The highlight for Smith during his win over Price was a 160 finish in the seventh leg of the match, which was his highest checkout of the tournament so far, eclipsing his previous highest of 124.
Last weekend at the German Darts Grand Prix, Smith exited the tournament at the hands of James Wade in the last 16 for the second consecutive week. Earlier in the tournament, he produced a scintillating performance when averaging over 105 during a 6-2 win over Chris Dobey.
The last time they met in the Premier League back in 2016 it was Smith who came out on top with a 7-5 win, which happened to be Smith’s only success during that Premier League campaign. The 2018 Premier League season is proving to be much more fruitful for him so far and he is winning matches whilst not really playing at his best.
Raymond van Barneveld is a big danger to anyone in the tournament as long he remains in touch of a play-off place. He competed a lot better than the score suggested against Van Gerwen last week but missed doubles hurt his chances of making it a closer game.
This has the potential to be a very close, competitive affair and the rhythm of the game might bring out the best in them. It’s tough to split them, and a draw could well be the final outcome.