2023 Cazoo Premier League Play-Offs preview

Premier League Play-Offs (Steven Paston/PDC)

The 2023 Cazoo Premier League will conclude with the Play-Offs in London on Thursday, as the final four compete for the £275,000 top prize at The O2.

Following 16 thrilling nights of league phase action, the £1m tournament will culminate on a blockbuster night of action in the English capital on May 25.

Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen will be among the players vying for the coveted title, along with world number one Michael Smith, 2021 champion Jonny Clayton and table-topper Gerwyn Price.

Van Gerwen is making his tenth Play-Off appearance, a decade on from his maiden Premier League triumph in 2013, where he defeated Phil Taylor in a thrilling finale.

The Dutchman has since celebrated wins in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022, and victory on Thursday will see Van Gerwen create further history by overhauling Taylor’s tally of six Premier League titles.

“It would definitely be special, but if it doesn’t happen, it will happen next year or the year after,” insisted Van Gerwen, who is fighting fit after suffering an upper arm injury on Night 16 in Aberdeen.

“Last week I pulled something in my arm which wasn’t pleasant. I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks, but I feel good now and I’m ready for tomorrow night.”

Van Gerwen will take on World Champion Smith in repeat of January’s historic World Championship final, and the six-time champion is relishing his latest showdown against the St Helens star.

“I think it’s going to be a classic of a game between me and Michael. He has incredible talent and he is a fantastic player for darts,” added Van Gerwen, who finished the league phase in third position.

“On the other side, I think I am mentally stronger and I have more experience than he has, and I hope I can use that in tomorrow’s game.”

Smith is appearing in the Play-Offs for the first time since succumbing to Van Gerwen in the 2018 decider, and the world number one arrives at The O2 in blistering form.

The 32-year-old won three of the last four league nights to leapfrog Van Gerwen and finish in second position, and he is bidding to cap off a dream six-month spell by adding a maiden Premier League crown to his World Championship success.

"I feel like I've played really well in spells, but it's about coming here now and winning this title," said Smith - who lifted the World Youth Championship title at this venue a decade ago.

"I always believe I'm the favourite, I always believe in myself, believe in the process and hopefully it all comes together tomorrow.

"When I lost to Michael in the Premier League final, I also lost to him in the World Championship that year, so hopefully history repeats itself five years on, and I can beat him in the Premier League too.

"The Premier League is one of the biggest titles. Apart from the World Championship, this is the title everyone wants, so hopefully I can add it to my list!"

Thursday’s first semi-final will see Price and Clayton collide in an all-Welsh affair, after Price became only the fifth player in the tournament’s history to finish top of the league standings.

The 2021 World Champion celebrated four nightly wins in Cardiff, Nottingham, Newcastle and Brighton to boast a six-point lead at the summit, having also featured in a further five finals.

Price registered an incredible 19 ton-plus averages throughout the league phase, and he’s determined to cap off a terrific campaign by lifting the coveted title on his Play-Offs debut.

"I can't wait to get on that stage,“ said Price, who has won eight of his last nine meetings against Clayton in all competitions.

"I feel like my game is in a good place. I'm full of confidence, and I feel like I can't miss sometimes when I get into my rhythm but it all needs to fall into place tomorrow night.

"I think I deserved to top the table but it doesn't mean anything tomorrow. I would rather win the Premier League rather than top the table, but my form has been really good.

"I am really looking forward to playing Jonny. It's a big game for me, it's a big game for Jonny, so may the best man win on the night!"

Clayton was indebted to his compatriot Price for beating Nathan Aspinall in the Night 16 semi-finals, which confirmed Clayton’s Play-Off qualification for a third consecutive year.

The 48-year-old made a sluggish start to the league phase, but back-to-back wins in Berlin and Birmingham on Nights Nine & Ten respectively proved decisive in his top four bid.

The affable Welshman is now aiming to join Taylor, Van Gerwen and Gary Anderson in becoming a multiple Premier League champion, and he's hoping his 2021 exploits can act as a positive omen.

“Hopefully coming in from fourth position, I can pick up that trophy again,” quipped Clayton, who finished fourth en route to his debut success in 2021.

“It was a difficult campaign. I made a very slow start, but those back-to-back wins put me back in the mix, the confidence rises again and things started to go my way.

“The man in form at the moment is Gerwyn Price, but anything can happen, and if I produce my best darts I’ve got a good chance of getting through.

“I’ve got total respect for Gezzy and I know he has the same respect for me. I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic game, and hopefully it’s my night.”

The 2023 Cazoo Premier League Play-Offs 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 Play-Offs
Thursday May 25 (1900 BST)
The O2, London
Semi-Finals – Best of 19 legs

Gerwyn Price v Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith v Michael van Gerwen

Final – Best of 21 legs
Price/Clayton v Smith/Van Gerwen