Premier Play-Off Previews

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The 2024 BetMGM Premier League will conclude with the Play-Offs in London on Thursday, as the final four compete for the £275,000 top prize at The O2.

Following 16 thrilling nights of league phase action, the sport’s biggest roadshow will culminate in front of a record-breaking crowd of over 13,500 fans in the capital on May 23.

Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen is eyeing a record-extending eighth Premier League crown, with World Champion Luke Humphries, teenage sensation Luke Littler and 2023 World Champion Michael Smith also vying for the coveted title.

Littler enjoyed a dream debut campaign to finish top of the league phase, celebrating nightly wins in Belfast, Manchester, Liverpool and Aberdeen to reaffirm his credentials.

The teenage sensation becomes only the fourth player in Premier League history to finish top of the league phase on debut, following in the footsteps of Phil Taylor, Van Gerwen and Glen Durrant.

“It’s crazy when you think about it,” admitted Littler, who equalled Jonny Clayton’s 40-point haul from the 2022 season.

“A few years back I was watching Phil, Michael and Duzza in the Premier League and now I can put my name alongside them.

“I cannot wait. I’m so glad to be a part of these sold-out arenas, and I’m going to The O2 full of confidence.”

Littler will play Smith for a place in Thursday’s showpiece, although the St Helens star has dominated the pair’s head-to-head record this season, winning five of their seven matches in 2024.

“I’m just focused on trying to win that first semi-final against Michael [Smith],” continued the World Youth Champion.

“Michael has got a good record against me, but hopefully I can put that right and win when it really matters.

“It would mean everything to lift the title tomorrow. It would be my first major title, but if it’s not to be, it’s not to be.”

Smith, meanwhile, secured his third Play-Off appearance with Night 16 success in Sheffield last Thursday, and he’s hoping to build on that momentum ahead of his return to The O2.

“If you look at the World Championship it was third-time lucky for myself, so hopefully it’s the same in the Premier League,” said Smith, a runner-up in 2018 and a semi-finalist 12 months ago.

“I just want to get going now. It’s been a hard 16 weeks, and now it all comes down to this one night.

“What’s happened before doesn’t mean anything. If I can bring my A-game, all three players know they’ve got a tough game to play.”

Smith – also a Night One winner in Cardiff – believes relinquishing his World Championship title and world number one status in January has given him the incentive he needs to return to those heights.

“Turning up to the Premier League and hearing John McDonald announce me as the former World Champion – it was annoying,” admitted the 33-year-old.

“Now I’ve got to listen to Luke [Humphries] get my introduction from last year. That has given me the kick up the backside I needed, and it’s got me back on track.

“The last 18 months have been difficult and that’s partly down to me. You’re never too old to learn and I am learning again, but it feels like I’m going in the right direction now.”

Thursday’s second semi-final will see world number one Humphries and reigning champion Van Gerwen renew their rivalry, with Humphries also eyeing debut glory.

The 29-year-old recorded a second-place finish with an impressive haul of four nightly wins, after claiming the spoils in Brighton, Nottingham, Dublin and Leeds.

“Everyone knows that I’ve always dreamed of being part of the Premier League and I’m really pleased with the way I’ve performed,” insisted the Newbury-born star.

“I’ve had some nights where I’ve almost been untouchable and there’s been some nights where I’ve not been at my best, but it’s about how you bounce back and I’ve bounced back pretty well in the last couple of weeks.”

Humphries boasts an incredible record over Van Gerwen in 2024, but despite winning his last six meetings against the Dutchman, he believes that won’t have a big influence on the outcome.

“I don’t think that record will have any bearing on tomorrow,” continued Humphries, the 6/4 tournament favourite with title sponsor BetMGM.

“If there’s any player that won’t let it affect them it would be Michael. He’s got great mental strength and he’s won this title seven times. He knows how to win it.

“It would mean the world to win this title. I’ve wanted to be part of the Premier League for so long, so to go and win it in my debut year would be really special.”

Van Gerwen is the only Play-Off contender to have lifted the coveted Premier League title, and the reigning seven-time champion has his sights set on creating further history tomorrow night.

“I have had so many great days in this venue, so I’m hoping I can add another one tomorrow,” declared Van Gerwen, who registered nightly wins in Berlin, Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham this season.

“I’ve got lots of experience in this tournament and especially on this stage. Of course that can help, but you still need to do everything in your possibility to perform when it matters.

“There have been some ups and downs, but after the last few weeks I feel comfortable, and I honestly think there is more in the tank for tomorrow.”

Van Gerwen faces a tough test against World Champion Humphries, but after winning the title 12 months ago following a third-place finish, he’s confident of repeating the feat this time around.

“Luke has been playing the darts of his life over the last few months,” conceded the three-time World Champion.

“What he has done over the last six months has been fantastic. He plays freely, he plays with a lot of confidence, but it won’t last forever, and I want to be the man who stops him!

“I wasn’t favourite last year [after finishing third], and I won the title, so I’m going to do exactly the same this year!”

2024 BetMGM Premier League


Play-Offs, London, The O2
Thursday May 23
Semi-Finals
Luke Littler v Michael Smith
Luke Humphries v Michael van Gerwen

Final
Littler/Smith v Humphries/Van Gerwen

BetMGM Odds
Overall Winner
6/4 Luke Humphries
7/4 Luke Littler
7/2 Michael van Gerwen
9/2 Michael Smith

—–ENDS—–

Images: Kieran Cleeves / PDC







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