Michael Smith will once again be in action as the Premier League roadshow heads to a venue near you! The SSE Arena in Belfast hosts the first of 17 individual venues from Thursday February 2 with the Play-Offs returning to The O2 in London on Thursday May 25
Last Updated: 13/01/23 10:09am
Michael Smith marked his first outing since becoming world champion with a resounding victory against local Abdulnasser Yusuf in the opening round of the Bahrain Darts Masters.
Smith, who beat Michael van Gerwen in a high-class World Championship final at Alexandra Palace earlier this month, eased to a 6-1 win over Yusuf, racing to a 5-0 lead in quick time, including a 131 checkout on double 20, before his 62-year-old opponent drew huge cheers by taking a leg off the world No.1.
‘Bully Boy’ averaged over 98 but did not need to recreate the electric performance that saw him take what instantly became a contender for greatest leg of all time, but confirmed he remained the man to beat with an authoritative show.
“I had goosebumps on my walk-on and I enjoyed it,” said Smith. “It felt different hearing John McDonald introducing me as world champion and world number one.
“I was a bit nervous up there but I managed to find my feet. Dimitri will be up for it tomorrow but I just want to keep winning.”
Smith will face Dimitri Van den Bergh in the quarter-finals after he edged a nailbiter against Alain Abiabi.
Of the eight Asian qualifiers taking on PDC regulars, Abiabi came closest to scoring an upset, coming back from 4-1 down to force a deciding leg.
Van den Bergh landed eight 180s in the tie and also missed double 18 for a nine-dart finish, but saw the Philippines thrower take out 103 and a 14-darter during his gutsy challenge.
Resurgent Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld was making his World Series comeback, having last appeared at this level in 2019, and despatched Yuki Yamada 6-2 with three 180s along the way. He next meets Luke Humphries.
Reigning World Series champion Gerwyn Price got up and running with a 6-2 victory over Singapore’s Paul Lim, concluding with a 139 finish.
Fellow Welshman Jonny Clayton awaits after he romped to a 6-0 victory over Basem Mahmood with a three-dart average of 103, the ‘Ferrett’ finishing 96, 134 and 122 in the opening four legs and punishing a late misses from Mahmood as he moved through to an all-Welsh quarter-final tie.
Peter Wright curried favour in the hall by wearing the colours of the Bahrain flag on his shirt and defeated Toru Suzuki 6-3. He will play Rob Cross, who beat Nitin Kumar.
The new Premier League Darts season will begin at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Thursday February 2, the first of 17 individual venues to host the 2023 Premier League, which will be staged on Thursday nights from February to May – live on Sky Sports!