2018 Unibet Premier League Darts – Raymond van Barneveld vs Michael Smith Preview

Update: Tonight's event has now been cancelled due to severe weather conditions

AT A GLANCE

When? Thursday 1st March

Where? Westpoint Arena, Exeter

What channel is it on? Sky Sports Action, Sky Sports Mix

Where can I stream the match? Sky Sports subscribers can stream the match online via Sky Go

Are tickets still available? www.ticketzone.co.uk

THE STATISTICS

THE LOWDOWN

CAREER HEAD-TO-HEAD
Raymond van Barneveld 7-5 Michael Smith

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD

  • Raymond van Barneveld produced a disappointing display in his 7-3 defeat against Rob Cross last week in Berlin. Barney has now lost each of his last two Premier League matches and has won only five of his last 12 matches in all competitions.
  • His average against Cross was a lowly 88.6 which was in fact his lowest Premier League match average since 2015. Further proof that his overall scoring against Cross was very poor is highlighted by his first nine dart average of 91 and he also failed to hit a 180 during the match.
  • In terms of finishing, Barney has the second lowest tournament checkout percentage in the league; he has hit just 33.9% of his double attempts.

MICHAEL SMITH

  • Michael Smith sits at the top of the table having maintained his 100% winning start in the 2018 Premier League with a 7-3 win over the previously unbeaten Simon Whitlock in Berlin last Thursday. Smith recovered well from having his throw broken in the opening leg of the match and dominated thereafter against an out-of-sorts opponent who struggled for form throughout.
  • Although he is top of the table, his tournament average of 92.26 is the lowest in the league. Smith’s average of 87.32 against Whitlock was his lowest of the tournament so far and was his second sub-90 average from his four matches played.
  • Smith has certainly benefitted from his opponents missing their attempts at doubles across his four matches, as the combined checkout percentage against Smith in the 2018 Premier League is just 21.9%.

THE PREDICTION

League leader Michael Smith is bidding to continue his winning run in the 2018 Premier League campaign. There is no doubting that Smith is in a confident mood due to winning his Premier League matches but he possibly hasn’t been playing as well as those results suggest as is shown in his tournament average. When Smith was last in the Premier League back in 2016 his solitary win came against Van Barneveld at this very venue so he does have those good memories to draw upon. This is their first meeting since Barney defeated Smith in a UK Open qualifier at the start of 2017, but prior to that match Smith had won five of their previous six encounters.

It is hard to know what to expect from Raymond van Barneveld; he started 2018 well by reaching the final of the Unibet Masters but since then his form has been patchy and certainly not at the high level expected of the Dutch legend. This match has the potential to go all the way to the 12th and final leg and could end with both players leaving Exeter with a point each.