Two Lukes in Titanic Belfast Clash

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Luke Humphries and Luke Littler will go head-to-head in a repeat of January’s World Darts Championship final when the 2024 BetMGM Premier League continues in Belfast on Thursday.

Night Nine of the darting roadshow will take place at the SSE Arena on Thursday, as Humphries sets his sights on an unprecedented fourth consecutive nightly victory.

The world number one arrives in Northern Ireland with a seven-point lead at the Premier League summit, following successive nightly wins in Brighton, Nottingham and Dublin respectively.

Humphries will renew his developing rivalry with Littler in the evening’s opening quarter-final, and the World Champion is brimming with confidence ahead of his Belfast bow.

“I’m super confident,” declared Humphries, who has registered ton-plus averages in 15 of his 18 matches this season.

“I feel like I can definitely make it four [nightly wins] in a row. I’ve got a really tough draw, but there are no easy games in this Premier League.

“I believe I’m playing at a level where it’s going to take a top performance to beat me, and I feel like the best player in the world at the moment.

“I’ve put myself in a good position, but the goal remains the same – finishing in the top four.

“You cannot get ahead of yourself because it can all come crashing down, so I need to keep pushing.”

Littler has won the pair’s last three meetings since their famous Alexandra Palace showdown, although the teenager slipped to fifth in the table following his quarter-final defeat to Michael Smith in Dublin.

Thursday’s action will see quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final played over the best of 11 legs in the Northern Irish capital, as Smith and Van Gerwen also collide in a repeat of the 2023 World Championship decider.

Reigning champion Van Gerwen is without a Premier League win since his Night Four triumph in Newcastle, although he still occupies second spot in the table, despite his four-match losing streak.

Smith, meanwhile, denied Van Gerwen on his way to Night One glory in Cardiff, and the St Helens star will be hoping for a repeat performance as he bids to cement his Play-Off position.

Gerwyn Price, meanwhile, created Premier League history in Belfast two years ago, landing a brace of nine-dart finishes on his way to a nightly victory at the SSE Arena.

The Welshman will be hoping to replicate those heroics on Thursday, although he faces a tough assignment against an in-form Nathan Aspinall, who has made three nightly finals within the last five weeks.

However, Price – who snapped his four-match losing run with a thrilling deciding-leg win over Van Gerwen in Dublin – is determined to transfer his performances into results.

“I’m playing really well, but the standard in this Premier League is so high,” conceded Price, who sits in seventh position, despite boasting the third-highest tournament average.

“Coming back to Belfast is a positive feeling, and if I win the night, I’m only one or two points away from the top four.

“My game is in a good place. I just need that extra 1% in my game when it comes to the doubles and taking shots out.

“The Premier League is a tough school, but there’s still a long way to go, and if I keep playing the way I am, the results are going to change.”

Peter Wright is currently 11 points adrift of the Play-Off places having claimed a solitary win across the opening eight nights, yet the Scot is refusing to give up hopes of a top-four finish.

Wright will play Rob Cross for a place in the Belfast semi-finals, after the 2018 World Champion slipped to sixth in the table following his quarter-final exit in Dublin.

“My game is coming back, slowly,” insisted Wright, who has shown signs of a resurgence on the PDC ProTour over recent weeks.

“I am doing well in the Players Championship events, I started well on the European Tour, so hopefully I can transfer that into the Premier League games.

“I need to start winning. I could do with winning three nights on the bounce – that would put me in contention I think.

“In the practice room my form is there, so if I can take that up on stage, then I don’t see why it’s not possible?!”

2024 BetMGM Premier League

Night Nine – SSE Arena, Belfast

Thursday March 28

Quarter-Finals

Luke Humphries v Luke Littler

Michael Smith v Michael van Gerwen

Nathan Aspinall v Gerwyn Price

Rob Cross v Peter Wright

Semi-Finals

Humphries/Littler v Smith/Van Gerwen

Aspinall/Price v Cross/Wright

Final

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

—–ENDS—–

Grab the current print issue 585 here  or a 50th Anniversary Darts World bundle 581 here 

The Darts World 50 limited edition dart set is available to order (Here) in your choice of pack







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