Michael Smith silences the crowd in Cardiff to defeat Michael van Gerwen, Luke Littler and Gerwyn Price and win the opening night of this year’s Premier League Darts; watch the Premier League Darts for the next 17 Thursday nights live on Sky Sports
Michael Smith and Luke Humphries were both angered by repeated whistling during their Premier League matches against Luke Littler in Cardiff
Former world champion Michael Smith silenced the whistlers to win the opening night of Premier League Darts, beating teenage sensation Luke Littler and Gerwyn Prince on his way to victory.
The St Helens star denied seven-time Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen, 17-year-old Littler, home favourite Price as well as a volatile Cardiff crowd to cap off a wonderful performance in the Welsh capital and claim maximum points.
Premier League Darts – Night One results
|Michael van Gerwen
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Check out all the best action from the opening night of Premier League Darts from Cardiff
Smith began the night by edging out reigning champion Van Gerwen in a last-leg decider before denying Littler a spot in the final by winning another tight encounter 6-5. Smith completed a remarkable win by hammering 2023 runner-up Price in the final.
Smith had punished a poor deciding leg from Van Gerwen to prevail in the evening’s third quarter-final, before defying six 180s and a 105 average from Littler to set up a showdown against Price.
The Welshman – a runner-up in last year’s Premier League – drew first blood in the final with a clinical 80 finish on tops, before Smith responded with a three-leg burst to seize control of the contest at 3-1.
Smith continued his charge with consecutive 120 and 107 combinations to move to the cusp of glory and he capped off a dominant display with a 13-darter to round off a statement performance.
Michael van Gerwen unravels in the final leg of his Premier League Darts encounter with Smith
“I actually thought in the semi-final Luke Littler was Welsh,” Smith, who finished second in last year’s league phase, said. “It’s going to be every week, it doesn’t matter where it is.
“Everyone’s fallen in love with him. He’s even bigger than Phil Taylor who won 16 world titles, Luke is the most popular thing in darts.”
He continued: “I’m going to ride the wave. People keep following, sponsors keep coming in, and the prize money is going up for us lads.
“When I walked in this afternoon there were no interviews. Luke Littler walked in and it was ‘can you do this one, can you do that one?’.
“That was me last year. This time I got to sit and chill, break up my time on the board and it worked.”
Smith said he was ‘sorry he won’ in Cardiff after he was whistled on a number of occasions during his match against Littler
Smith had to deal with unsportsmanlike whistling from some unruly individuals among the crowd.
Smith said: “I enjoyed the crowd apart from one or two individuals. I’m not going to say the crowd was disgusting because it was only two or three people, the other three or four thousand were amazing.
“Luckily enough it did not put me off, it’s expected. You know you’re going to expect some stick and some boos, especially playing Gezzy here.
“Whistling is not the best, but it happens in any sport. How do you stop it? It happens and it’s up to the sportsperson to get on with the job.
“Going top of the league after week one is a message to myself. I’m happy to win and there’s a few chinks in there, but to get five points on the opening night and a 10 grand cheque is always nice.”
Price said: “Everyone’s going to get whistled every week. That’s part and parcel of the game and I’ve had it for the last five years so welcome to the club. You can’t stop it.
“I’ve had bad times over the past couple of years. I wish every tournament was in Wales but the last 18 months the crowd have been brilliant with me and especially in Germany. I’m also looking forward to Scotland the week after.”
Luke Littler is the first player to win a Premier League match on debut in 10 years!
2005 – Taylor, Dudbridge
2006 – Van Barneveld
2007 – Priestley
2008 – Wade
2009 – King
2011 – Webster, Anderson
2012 – Hamilton, Painter
2013 – Thornton
2014 – Chisnall, Wright
2024 – Littler
Littler produced two ton-topping averages on his Premier League bow, avenging his World Championship defeat to Luke Humphries with a resounding 6-2 victory in the quarter-finals, in doing so becoming the first player to win a Premier League match on debut in 10 years, as the constant whistling in the crowd put Humphries off his rhythm throughout the contest.
The world youth champion also impressed in an absorbing semi-final showdown against Smith, rallying from 4-2 down with legs of 12, 14 and 13 darts before losing out in a dramatic finale.
Humphries later took to social media to vent his anger at the crowd, saying: “So sorry tonight guys. Was so looking forward to playing in the amazing city of Cardiff. I was gutted with the whistling, but I know that I have to learn to get better at that! Well done Luke Littler for a fantastic debut game! I will work hard for the rest of the tournament.”
Price was unable to make it back-to-back nightly wins in Cardiff, but he walked away with three points courtesy of wins over Nathan Aspinall and Rob Cross.
Mardle: Odd whistle put players off but good to see Smith win
Wayne Mardle gives his views on the opening night of the Premier League Darts from Cardiff, where Michael Smith stole the show
Speaking on Sky Sports, Wayne Mardle said: “The crowd were so noisy at the start, I thought I was in Berlin and Glasgow. I thought they were magnificent apart from the off whistle which has really put a lot of players off but hopefully that’s done done and dusted.”
Image: Michael van Gerwen is aiming to win an eighth Premier League title
Premier League Darts now heads to the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin on Thursday February 8 as Price and Smith collide in a repeat of tonight’s final on Night Two at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.
Elsewhere, Littler and Cross lock horns, Van Gerwen takes on Aspinall in the evening’s opener, while Humphries and Wright also collide.
Premier League Darts – Night Two in Berlin
|Michael van Gerwen
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2024 Premier League Darts schedule
|Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin
|OVO Hydro, Glasgow
|Utilita Arena, Newcastle
|The Brighton Centre
|Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
|SSE Arena, Belfast
|AO Arena, Manchester
|Utilita Arena, Birmingham
|M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
|P&J Live, Aberdeen
|First Direct Arena, Leeds
|Utilita Arena, Sheffield
|The O2, London
Premier League Darts continues on Sky Sports on Thursday, February 8 as Berlin is the next stop on the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday, May 23. Stream Sky Sports Darts without a contract through NOW