QUARTET LINE UP FOR BETWAY PREMIER LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS
THE 2016 Betway Premier League champion will be crowned in Thursday's Play-Offs at The O2 in London, where Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis will compete for the prestigious title.
Following the completion of the 15-night league season, the top four players from the league table face off on Thursday in the semi-finals and final, with a tournament-record £200,000 on offer for the eventual champion.
With ten players having kicked off the season back in February, the semi-final line-up sees the top four players in the PDC Order of Merit having won through to compete at The O2.
World number one van Gerwen, the 2013 Premier League champion, finished at the top of the league table for a fourth successive year by defeating Phil Taylor in Rotterdam last week, securing himself a £25,000 bonus.
The Dutchman - who is unbeaten since losing to James Wade on the opening league night in February - faces Adrian Lewis in the semi-finals, and has set his sights on continuing a superb year by regaining the Premier League title.
"It was a big night for last week and there was a lot of pressure, but I handled it and I'm proud of myself - but this is a new week," said van Gerwen.
"I want to win the title and I'm really looking forward to playing at The O2 and I'm desperate to win because I haven't won it for the last two years.
"I'll need to play as well as possible and I'll need to if I'm going to win this title. I feel fantastic but I need to show it on Thursday. You can't afford any mistakes, so I'll be 100 percent focused on the title."
Two-time World Champion Lewis last reached the Play-Offs in 2011 - when he lost out to Anderson in the final - and is aiming to lift the Premier League trophy for the first time on Thursday night.
"I'm looking forward to playing Michael and I'm happy to be back in the Play-Offs because it's been five years now since I was last in the semis," said Lewis. "It's a straight knockout, it's a different ball-game and I can't wait.
"I've always said I'm a better player when it's knockout and that's what this is now, and I don't fear anybody.
"My scoring hasn't been fantastic, certainly over the last few weeks, but I've finished well. As long as I combine the two on Thursday then I've got a great chance."
The other semi-final sees six-time Premier League champion Taylor facing regning Premier League and World Champion Anderson in an eagerly-awaited contest.
Taylor's superb season included a 12-match unbeaten run as he bounced back in style from the disappointment of missing out on the Play-Offs for the first time in 2015.
"It hurt me missing out last year, it really did, and it's been a massive goal to get back into the Play-Offs - but now I'm here I'm focusing on trying to win the title," said Taylor.
"Qualifying was the hard part and it's brilliant to get through because it's been the toughest season ever, but I've loved it. I'm relaxed now and I can enjoy Thursday night.
"I want to play proper darts and enjoy it because players don't seem to miss any more - you miss a double and they knock you out. I think the crowd are in for a treat on Thursday and it will be a good match against Gary because I think we'll be both on form."
Anderson, meanwhile, is aiming to capture the coveted title for a third time following his previous successes in 2011 and 2015 - which also saw the Scot finish in third place in the league table before claiming glory in the Play-Offs.
"It's been a hard 15 weeks and the boys have played well," said Anderson, who had missed the opening night in Leeds through illness and lost his first two matches.
"You've got the top four in the world so it's got the makings of a great night. All the boys will be up for it and we all want to lift that title.
"I've done well to get into the top four and it's worked out well, and we'll see what happens now on Thursday because I've got a very tough semi-final to focus on first. I've finished third twice before and gone on to win it so hopefully history will repeat itself."
Thursday's semi-finals will be followed by the final at The O2 in London, with coverage live on Sky Sports from 7pm.
Tickets for the Betway Premier League Play-Offs are still available by calling 0844 856 0202 or via www.theo2.co.uk.
Betway Premier League Play-Offs
Thursday May 19
The O2, London
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Best of 19 legs
van Gerwen/Lewis v Taylor/Anderson
Best of 21 legs
Tournament Winner – before Play-Offs
4/7 Michael van Gerwen
4/1 Phil Taylor
11/2 Gary Anderson
11/1 Adrian Lewis
Semi-Final Match Odds
2/11 Michael van Gerwen v 4/1 Adrian Lewis
5/6 Phil Taylor v Evens Gary Anderson
Odds correct at time of writing and courtesy of www.betway.com. Odds subject to fluctuation.
Betway Charity Donation To Parkinson's UK
The Betway Premier League Play-Offs Launch also featured Betway's donation of £5,000 to Parkinson's UK, the official charity of the Professional Darts Corporation in 2016.
Betway's donation included a £500 prize won by Adrian Lewis in the Betway Flight Map Challenge earlier this season and £1,234 which Betway bid in an online auction for the dartboard used in Michael van Gerwen's world record televised average of 123.40 against Michael Smith in Aberdeen.
The Betway Premier League season has also seen Adrian Lewis' match shirt and dartboard from his nine-dart finish game against James Wade in Belfast given away via Dave Clark's JustGiving page which is raising money for his charity walk in September.