Humphries Hunts Newcastle Victory

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The BetMGM Premier League roadshow rolls into Newcastle for Night Four on Thursday, as Michael van Gerwen bids to extend his lead at the top of the table with a third consecutive nightly victory and World Champion Luke Humphries hunts his first nightly victory.

World number one Humphries will aim to build upon his impressive showing in Glasgow when he takes on 2019 runner-up Rob Cross in his Newcastle opener.

Humphries relinquished a 4-2 lead against Van Gerwen in the Night Three showpiece, but his three-point haul at the OVO Hydro catapulted him into the top four ahead of Thursday’s visit to Tyneside.

“I might be the World Champion and world number one, but this is a learning curve for me,” insisted Humphries, who has posted five consecutive ton-plus averages since his Night One defeat to Littler.

“I didn’t expect to win three majors and then be World Champion. It’s something that I never imagined I would do in my whole career, let alone in the space of three months.

“I’m still coming to terms with the pressures of that, but I’m going to enjoy the whole process, because unless you’re involved in it, you don’t realise how tough it is.

“I’m proud of the way I played last week. It was much, much better in terms of consistency, and now I’m where I want to be, in the top four.

“My goal is to finish in the top four, whether it’s fourth, third, second or first, and I will keep working hard to make sure I’m in those positions at the end of the season.”

Reigning champion Van Gerwen boasts a three-point lead at the Premier League summit after recovering from a quarter-final exit on Night One with back-to-back victories in Berlin and Glasgow.

The 34-year-old posted a trio of ton-plus averages to triumph in the German capital, before edging out World Champion Luke Humphries on Scottish soil to make it six wins on the spin in the Premier League.

The three-time World Champion will now face 2023 runner-up Gerwyn Price in his quarter-final clash at the Utilita Arena, in a repeat of last year’s Premier League final.

The pair have yet to lock horns in this year’s tournament, but they did collide in last year’s Newcastle decider, with Price producing an astonishing 114.96 average to dispatch the Dutchman 6-1.

Van Gerwen could equal last year’s haul of nightly victories with success in the North East, although he’s refusing to look too far ahead in his pursuit of a record-extending eighth Premier League crown.

“Last year I said to myself that I want to win so many weeks, I want do this, do that, win so many majors but this year I’ll do it differently,” declared the world number two.

“I’m going to look week by week, game by game and see what happens, because then I think I’m at my best.

“I’ve put so much pressure on my shoulders over the last years and I do well in some tournaments.

“For me more importantly I need to look ahead myself and I need to make sure I do the right things at the right moment.

“The Premier League is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, but I just want to do what I love the most, and that’s performing on the biggest stages, and hopefully I can make as many good results as possible.”

The winner of Van Gerwen and Price’s showdown will advance to a semi-final meeting against either Luke Littler or Peter Wright, who go head-to-head in the evening’s third quarter-final.

Night Two runner-up Littler retained third spot despite his last eight defeat to Price in Glasgow last week, while Wright paid the price for a profligate display as he succumbed at the same stage to Van Gerwen.

Wright is yet to open his account in this year’s Premier League, but he enjoyed a welcome return to form by reaching the quarter-finals and semi-finals in this week’s Players Championship double-header in Leicester.

Elsewhere, in the evening’s opener, Michael Smith will play World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall, who is still searching for his first points of the season.

Night One winner Smith surrendered top spot in Glasgow following an off-colour performance against Cross, who himself is only one point adrift of the Play-Off places.

Aspinall, meanwhile, raced into a 3-1 lead against Humphries with a 116 average on Night Three, before the World Champion launched a stirring fightback to inflict a third straight defeat on the Stockport star.

The 2024 BetMGM Premier League will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.

2024 BetMGM Premier League

Night Four – Utilita Arena, Newcastle

Thursday February 22

Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith v Nathan Aspinall

Rob Cross v Luke Humphries

Peter Wright v Luke Littler

Gerwyn Price v Michael van Gerwen

Semi-Finals

Smith/Aspinall v Cross/Humphries

Wright/Littler v Price/Van Gerwen

Final

Smith/Aspinall/Cross/Humphries v Wright/Littler/Price/Van Gerwen

—–ENDS—–

Taylor Lanning/PDC

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