Lenny Boyles Review on the Penultimate night of the Premier League Darts
Newcastle hosts the penultimate night of Premier League Darts and everything is still to play for.
Phil Taylor and Simon Whitlock have qualified for already. James Wade, Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld, Kevin Painter and Andy Hamilton are all still in contention. Champion Gary Anderson cannot qualify for finals night.
Five men. Two playoff places. £150,000 for the winner.
It’s not all about the money of course, these are sportsmen after all. They want to win stuff. So they all want to be there, on finals night, desperately. But only the top four make it. And in this remarkable season, five men are still in the running for the final two qualification spots going into the last regular season night.
Last week no one embodied this all out fight for playoff qualification quite like Kevin Painter. The man many weren’t sure deserved a place in the league in the first place. The man the bookies were offering 4/1 to defeat World Champ Adrian Lewis in Birmingham, on the latest night of Premier League Darts.
As it turns out the bookmakers are often wrong (though it doesn’t stop them making money hand over fist). Painter defeated a sluggish Lewis 8-3 in the manner we have come to expect from him. He began the match with two ton-plus finishes - he has more checkouts over 100 than anyone else this season - and consistently out finished Lewis throughout the match.
Lewis seemed unaware - of course he was painfully aware - that his playoff qualification wasn’t secure. Lewis can do the freakish on the dart board, against KP he was just freakishly bad. And he was punished for it.
Here comes the science bit, concentrate: there are numerous permutations but, due to the victory over Lewis, Painter goes into the final week of the regular season knowing that even a draw could take him into the top four. And therefore qualification. If Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis are defeated that is.
Painter will have his eyes on the prize however. With so many scenarios in the air nothing but a win will satisfy him.
But look who Painter is playing. The other man so eminently writeoffable (not a real word) Andy Hamilton. The man known as the Hammer. Because he will smash you.
Quote of the season this year is still, “I’ll never ever give in, I’m Andy Hamilton.” Someone put that on a T shirt.
Andy Hamilton vs Kevin Painter for perhaps (permutations permitting) a place in finals night. And the even bigger ‘perhaps’. The more significant, the more lucrative ‘perhaps’; it is Andy Hamilton vs Kevin Painter for another shot at the Premier League. And the riches and the exposure that that entails.
Both are desperate to return next year. And what better argument for inclusion in the 2013 PLD than a photo finish playoff qualification. And who knows, actually win the thing. Lift the 2012 Premier League trophy and join the names of the three other men to do so; Taylor, Wade, Anderson. Like Chelsea in the Champions League, Painter and Hamilton may have to win the cup itself to qualify for next year’s tournament.
The winner - permutations permitting - takes it all.
Another match in this week’s final regular season night is equally mouthwatering. And in this one, too, the winner eats a chicken dinner, and the loser eats out of date leftovers.
Raymond van Barneveld vs James Wade.
As always there are more mind-boggling permutations surrounding this one, as there always are in the final weeks of the league. But it all boils down to one simple phrase:
If you win you’re in.
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