Humphries claims Leeds title as Van Gerwen reaches Play-Offs

Luke Humphries (Kieran Cleeves/PDC)

Luke Humphries celebrated his fourth nightly win of the 2024 BetMGM Premier League in Leeds on Thursday, as Michael van Gerwen sealed a Play-Off place.

Leeds United fan Humphries – roared on by an 11,000 strong crowd at the First Direct Arena - edged out Van Gerwen in a dramatic finale to enjoy a dream debut in West Yorkshire.

The World Champion also recorded a brace of 6-1 wins against Rob Cross and Michael Smith on his way to scooping the £10,000 winner’s prize on the penultimate night of league phase action.

Humphries averaged over 109 in his quarter-final demolition of Cross, reeling off six consecutive legs in 17, 12, 15, 12, 13 and 11 darts to avenge his defeat to the 2018 World Champion in Aberdeen last week.

The world number one then dispatched 2023 World Champion Smith by the same 6-1 scoreline to seal his spot in Thursday’s showpiece, aided by a 102 average and four maximums.

However, Humphries was forced to recover from a laboured start in the evening’s decider against Van Gerwen, who established an early two-leg lead.

Humphries hit back with consecutive 13-dart holds and a spectacular 132 checkout to level at three apiece, before firing in another 13-darter to move to the brink of victory at 5-4.

Van Gerwen forced a last-leg shoot-out after surviving a match dart in leg ten, but the roles were reversed in the decider, with Humphries taking out 78 on tops to prevail, after the Dutchman missed a dart at bull for victory.

“This was a dream for me tonight,” reflected an emotional Humphries, who debuted his new-walk on song and donned a specially-designed shirt in Leeds' white, blue and yellow colours.

“The support was amazing, and to go on and win, this probably ranks as one of my best experiences in darts.

“The crowd were absolutely fantastic. When you walk out there and you’ve got so many people wanting you to win, it is what dreams are made of.

“It was an incredible feeling, and to perform like I did when the pressure was on, I’m really proud of that.

“I’ve had some games recently where it hasn’t gone my way, but the most important thing is how you bounce back, and I played really well tonight.”

Despite narrowly missing out on a fifth nightly win of the campaign, Van Gerwen confirmed his spot in the forthcoming Play-Offs with impressive wins against Gerwyn Price and Luke Littler.

The reigning champion won five straight legs from 3-1 down to deny Price in the evening’s opener, before easing past an out-of-sorts Littler to end the teenager’s seven-match winning run in the competition.

Littler breezed past a struggling Peter Wright in their quarter-final tussle, and he now boasts a five-point lead at the Premier League summit heading into the final night of league action in Sheffield.

Elsewhere, Smith preserved his hopes of a top-four finish with a 6-3 success against Nathan Aspinall, punishing a profligate display from the Stockport star to set up a fascinating finale next week.

The final league night of the season will be held at Sheffield's Utilita Arena on Thursday May 16, as Aspinall and Smith go head-to-head in a straight shoot-out for qualification.

The winner will join Littler, Humphries and Van Gerwen at the season-ending Play-Offs, which will take place at London’s O2 on Thursday May 23.

Littler and Wright will lock horns for a second straight week, and victory for the Warrington wonderkid in the quarter-finals would see him guarantee top spot.

Humphries will begin his bid for back-to-back nightly wins against 2023 runner-up Price, while Van Gerwen takes on Cross, with the Dutchman aiming to cement a third-place finish.

Click here for match stats and results.

2024 BetMGM Premier League
Night 15 - First Direct Arena, Leeds
Thursday May 9

Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Gerwyn Price
Luke Littler 6-1 Peter Wright
Luke Humphries 6-1 Rob Cross
Michael Smith 6-3 Nathan Aspinall

Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Luke Littler
Luke Humphries 6-1 Michael Smith

Luke Humphries 6-5 Michael van Gerwen

2024 BetMGM Premier League Table

Night 16 - Utilita Arena, Sheffield
Thursday May 16

Luke Littler v Peter Wright
Nathan Aspinall v Michael Smith
Luke Humphries v Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross