THE 2019 Unibet Premier League continues with Night Three at Dublin's 3Arena on Thursday, as the world's top two players, Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross collide.
The winners of the last three World Championships, Van Gerwen and Cross have produced some memorable encounters over the last three years, none more so than their classic World Championship semi-final clash in December 2017.
World number one Van Gerwen gained his revenge for that loss to Cross by defeating the world number two three times in the 2018 Premier League, including a win in the Play-Offs semi-finals.
Both players have made unbeaten starts to this year's Premier League, with Van Gerwen recording wins over Michael Smith and Mensur Suljovic, while Cross' back-to-back ton-plus averages have seen his odds of winning a maiden Premier League title shorten to 8/1 second favourite with title sponsor Unibet.
"I lost my smile last year, everything felt difficult during the Premier League but I'm feeling a lot more positive this year," said world number two Cross.
"The Premier League is a ruthless competition and I'm here to play properly; I've been working hard on my game and it's paying off, I feel great at the moment.
"Michael is on a high right now but I'm looking forward to giving it my best shot, and if we're both on top form then it could be another amazing game between us on Thursday."
Four-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen has been in imperious form since claiming his third World Championship on New Year's Day, backing up his Premier League wins with The Masters and two ProTour titles.
“Rob has made a good start to the Premier League, he is always a dangerous player but I know that if I play my best game I will win,” said Van Gerwen, who has topped the league every year since his debut in 2013.
“I'm happy with how my game is going at the moment, I'm doing what I need to at the key moments and I'm not making too many mistakes.
"I enjoy playing in the Premier League, it gives me a good target to fight for points week after week. I'm already top of the table but I need to work hard to stay there."
Emerging Irish ace Steve Lennon will be the third Contender to compete in this year's competition as he makes his Dublin homecoming against world number three Peter Wright.
Lennon enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2018, reaching the quarter-finals of the Players Championship Finals and the final of a European Tour event, and will be looking to continue his journey in front of a passionate 3Arena crowd.
“I can’t wait to walk out there in front of the Irish fans, I’m determined to make a big impression," said Lennon, who has reached Alexandra Palace in both his first two years on the professional circuit.
"I want to thank the PDC for the opportunity to play in the Premier League, being selected for the Premier League is a huge deal for me and now I'm excited to get out there and give a good account of myself.
"Thursday could be a huge night for my career and lead to further opportunities so I will be a bit nervous before we go on but once I get up there I will be fine, I really can't wait for it."
Departing Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld will take his final Premier League bow in Dublin against World Matchplay finalist Suljovic, with both players seeking their first victory of the campaign.
Unbeaten Grand Slam of Darts champion Gerwyn Price will take on European Champion James Wade in the opening game of the evening, while 2018 Premier League finalist Smith meets Players Championship Finals winner Daryl Gurney.
Night Three of the 2019 Unibet Premier League will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, worldwide through the PDC's broadcast partners, and through PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers.
Darts' widest-reaching tournament sees nine of the world's top players compete across 17 nights of action from February-May.
The top four players at the end of 16 nights will face off in the Play-Offs at The O2 on May 23, while the ninth-placed player following Judgement Night in Rotterdam will face an early elimination.
Night Three - Thursday February 21
Gerwyn Price v James Wade
Steve Lennon v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney
Mensur Suljovic v Raymond van Barneveld
Tickets: 0818 719 300 (Ire) or click here
Night Three Match Odds
Gerwyn Price 13/10 James Wade 6/4 Draw 33/10
Steve Lennon 9/2 Peter Wright 4/9 Draw 4/1
Michael van Gerwen 11/25 Rob Cross 9/2 Draw 17/4
Michael Smith 21/20 Daryl Gurney 19/10 Draw 33/10
Mensur Suljovic 9/10 Raymond van Barneveld 9/4 Draw 33/10
Unibet Premier League Darts 2019 - To Win Outright
Michael Van Gerwen 2/5
Rob Cross 8/1 (from 9s)
Michael Smith 9/1
Peter Wright 14/1
Mensur Suljovic 22/1
Gerwyn Price 33/1
James Wade 28/1
Daryl Gurney 28/1
Raymond Van Barneveld 66/1
Odds courtesy www.unibet.co.uk and correct at time of writing. Subject to fluctuation.