St Helens darts ace Michael Smith starts Premier League campaign against world champion

Michael Smith
Michael Smith
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Michael Smith and Michael Van Gerwen will lock horns on the opening night of the 2019 Unibet Premier League darts tournament on Thursday, February 7,with fixtures for the first nine nights now confirmed.

It will bring together last year's two finalists and the same duo who earlier this month were involved in the world championship final - the Dutchman claiming both titles.

Smith is the only St Helens representative in the 10 strong line-up with Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting, who in the past have taken part in what is arguably the toughest competition to win due to the quality of players, failing to qualify for the prestigious event.

Newcastle is the venue for the first set of matches - all of which will be screened live on Sky in a 17-week darting spectacular.

It will include Judgement Night after nine matches when the bottom two players in the table will be eliminated.

Night one will also see former Premier League winners James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld come face-to-face, while Mensur Suljovic takes on Gary Anderson in a replay of the classic 2018 World Matchplay final.

The following week will see reigning World Matchplay and UK Open Champion Gary Anderson take on Daryl Gurney in his Scottish homecoming at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

The Scottish number one meets Peter Wright at 3Arena Dublin in a replay of the 2018 Champions League of Darts final, on a night in Ireland which will also see Van Gerwen face former world champion Rob Cross.

Another replay of a televised final from 2018 will see Anderson face Gerwyn Price in the opening game of night four at Westpoint, Exeter, as he seeks to avenge his defeat to the Welshman in the Grand Slam of Darts decider.

The Premier League roadshow returns to Aberdeen for night five, where Van Barneveld - starring in his final Premier League campaign before his impending retirement - will hope to replicate his nine-dart feat of 2010 at The BHGE Arena in his meeting with Wright.

Anderson will play his close friend Smith in a rematch of last year's Premier League semi-final at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena, while Gurney will hope to repeat his miraculous Players Championship Finals victory over Van Gerwen on night seven at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.

Wright, who defeated Van Gerwen twice in the 2018 Premier League, will take on the world number one on the first of two nights at Rotterdam Ahoy on Wednesday, March 27.

The following evening Van Barneveld will make his final Premier League appearance in the Netherlands against Van Gerwen in a mouth-watering all-Dutch clash.

Following Judgement Night’s elimination of the bottom two players, the remaining eight players will then do battle for play-off places by facing each other once more in the league phase, with fixtures to be confirmed after the second night in Rotterdam.