Chris Dobey is aiming to round off his Cazoo Premier League campaign in style when he takes on reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in Thursday’s Night 16 quarter-finals in Aberdeen.
Masters champion Dobey has impressed on his full-time debut in the sport’s biggest roadshow, claiming the Night One spoils in Belfast with a memorable victory over Van Gerwen.
The Bedlington thrower has earned plenty of plaudits for his performances throughout the campaign, although his Play-Off dreams were dashed following Michael Smith's victory on Night 14 in Manchester.
Dobey is now bidding to finish with a flourish on the final night of 2023 league phase action at P&J Live, as he faces Dutch superstar Van Gerwen in front of a bumper Scottish crowd.
“I’m just playing with freedom. I know I can’t reach the top four, but I’m still here, and I play to win every time,” said Dobey, who sits in sixth spot, above Dimitri Van den Bergh and Peter Wright.
"My game is there. I’ve showed that for the last few weeks, it’s just about having that little bit of luck.
“I won the opening night [in Belfast], and the way I’m playing, I believe I’m good enough to win another, it’s just about producing and taking my chances on the night.”
Dobey has won two of his four meetings against Van Gerwen in this year’s Premier League, following up his Night One exploits with a landmark win over the three-time World Champion on Night Seven.
The 32-year-old became the first player in Premier League history to whitewash Van Gerwen, defying a ton-plus average from the six-time champion to run out a 6-0 winner in Nottingham.
“Everybody wants to be in the Premier League, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” added Dobey – the solitary debutant in this year’s eight-player field.
“Competing against the best in the world on the biggest stage – this is what dreams are made of.
“I feel I’ve handled it well, people have just thrown unbelievable darts against me, but I believe in myself, and I will definitely be back.”
Dobey has been on the receiving end of some brutal displays in this year’s Premier League, with his opponents registering ton-plus averages in 11 of the 22 games he’s played across the previous 15 weeks.
This figure includes eight of his last 13 matches, featuring a run of five straight quarter-final defeats between Nights 9-13, where his rivals posted averages of 103, 106, 115, 100 and 105 respectively.
Despite this, Dobey has averaged in three figures on nine occasions himself, with only the league’s top three of Price, Van Gerwen and Smith boasting a higher tournament average than the Masters champion.
However, Dobey is philosophical about the uncompromising nature of the Premier League, and has vowed to emerge a stronger player from his debut season amongst the world's elite.
“It can be demoralising at times, but it’s been a great experience,” continued Dobey, who also featured in Nottingham's Night Seven decider.
“You’re playing the best players in the world week in week out, and I’m losing with 105 and 106 averages. It hurts, but at least I’m pushing them and competing with them.
“This Premier League is all about learning [for me]. This will make me a stronger player and hungrier to be back here, and I believe I will be back one day.”
The 2023 Cazoo Premier League will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN, Viaplay and VTM, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.
2023 Cazoo Premier League
Night 16 - Thursday May 18
P&J Live, Aberdeen
Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton v Nathan Aspinall
Michael Smith v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen v Chris Dobey
Price/Wright v Clayton/Aspinall
Smith/Van den Bergh v Van Gerwen/Dobey
All matches best of 11 legs