Glen Durrant's elimination from the Unibet Premier League was confirmed as the reigning champion lost 7-4 to Jose de Sousa on Tuesday as Dimitri Van den Bergh moved a point clear at the top of the table.
The Grand Slam of Darts champion also became the first player this season to win three straight matches as he took another step towards securing his spot in the second half of the campaign.
An improved showing from Durrant saw him land a 180 in taking the opening leg, just his fourth of the season, and only a second ton-plus checkout of the campaign as a 104 combination moved him 2-1 up.
Durrant also led 3-2, but De Sousa turned the game by taking out 61 to level and then hitting seven perfect darts as he broke throw with an 11-darter and then punished a missed bull from the Middlesbrough ace to move 5-3 up.
Durrant finished 87 to respond, but De Sousa wrapped up the win by taking the next two to seal his opponent's fate.
"It's a good two points for me because I want to be through but I feel sad," admitted an emotional De Sousa. "I'm not happy because he's a good friend and it's hard to see a person like Glen suffer so much.
"I hope he comes back soon because we love him and we love his darts. I feel emotion because I know what he can do. I think I can play a little bit better but I had to do my job tonight."
🇵🇹 A genuinely emotional Jose De Sousa reflects on his victory which sees reigning Champion Glen Durrant eliminated early from this season Unibet Premier League of Darts 🎯.@JoseDeSousa180 #Unibet180 | #PLDarts21 | @OfficialPDC pic.twitter.com/sCdhuFIRll— Unibet (@unibet) April 20, 2021
Van den Bergh became the first player to reach ten points this season and secured his spot in the second half of the season by defeating Rob Cross 7-4, moving himself a point cleat at the top of the table in the process.
The Belgian ace produced a superb five-leg spell which included finishes of 11 and 12 darts and checkouts of 96 and 124 to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 6-2 lead.
Cross replied with a 97 double-double checkout and an 11-darter to pull back to 6-4, but Van den Bergh's 64 finish leaves the 2018 finalist embroiled in the battle to avoid elimination on Judgement Night.
🇧🇪 Inside the mind of Dimitri Van de Bergh as he breaks his hoodoo against Rob Cross to chalk up another victory on the Premier League of Darts 🤯. The Belgium is absolutely flying!! @VandenBerghDimi #Unibet180 | #PLDarts21 | @OfficialPDC pic.twitter.com/i8JlxH33hr— Unibet (@unibet) April 20, 2021
"I felt good today and I enjoyed myself," said Van den Bergh. "I knew I had to be on my A-game and strong, especially in my mind, and I'm very proud of this win.
"It's a big win and I think it was a really good game from both of us."
James Wade jumped above Peter Wright in the league table with an impressive average of almost 106 in a 7-4 victory to boost his hopes of securing a place in the second half of the season.
Wright came from 3-1 down to lead 4-3, only to see Wade level with a 13-darter and then break throw on tops after his rival missed double 12 for a 141 checkout, before the left-hander closed out the win in 13 and 14 darts.
"I'm really happy I won," said Wade, who was edged out by Jose de Sousa on Monday despite a 104 average. "I thought I was a bit unfortunate last night but tonight I got a bit of rub of the green.
"I'm playing steady darts but I don't think I played amazingly well. I'm still there or thereabouts and moving forwards - I'm still shooting for the top four."
Nathan Aspinall missed two match darts in the final leg of his clash with Jonny Clayton, who snatched a draw as both players continued their strong form.
Aspinall led 2-0 and 3-1 before responding to a Clayton 121 finish with a 124 combination, while back-to-back 13-darters saw the Masters champion level before the pair traded the final four legs to share the spoils.
🏴 The loudest Ferret @DanDartsDawson has every heard. Jonny Clayton is starting to feel at home on the elite stage after an enthralling draw with Nathan Aspinall here in Milton Keynes🤝.@JonnyClay9 #Unibet180 | #PLDarts21 | @OfficialPDC pic.twitter.com/LwnQh0a8d0— Unibet (@unibet) April 20, 2021
Former champions Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson also shared the points as the duo renewed their big-stage rivalry in a fast-paced contest.
Anderson hit back from 5-3 down to level after ten legs, with Van Gerwen's 14-darter securing him a point before the Scot took out 68 on tops in the final leg to claim a draw.
Wednesday's Night Eight will see Cross - sitting on five points in ninth place - facing a crucial clash with Aspinall, while eighth-placed Peter Wright, who has six points, takes on Durrant.
Table-topper Van den Bergh plays Anderson, while Van Gerwen meets De Sousa and Wade plays Clayton in a clash of this year's UK Open and Masters champions.
The Unibet Premier League is broadcast through Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland, RTL7 in the Netherlands, DAZN in various worldwide territories including Germany & America, as well as through the PDC's global broadcast partners and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers outside of the UK, Ireland & Netherlands.
Unibet Premier League
Night Seven - Tuesday April 20
Glen Durrant 4-7 Jose de Sousa
Rob Cross 4-7 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Nathan Aspinall 6-6 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 4-7 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 6-6 Gary Anderson
Night Eight - Wednesday April 21
Rob Cross v Nathan Aspinall
Gary Anderson v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen v Jose de Sousa
James Wade v Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright v Glen Durrant
Best of 12 legs