Places in the McCoy’s Premier League Darts Play-Offs could be settled on Thursday when the penultimate league night of the season takes place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

The Thorn – Lawrence lustig/PDC

With Adrian Lewis now out of the running for a top-four finish, seven of the eight stars head to Liverpool knowing that the Play-Offs in a fortnight are still within reach.

Andy Hamilton and Simon Whitlock, though, must leave the Echo Arena unbeaten if they are to keep their challenges for spots at The O2 running into next Thursday’s final league night.

Robert Thornton, meanwhile, can keep alive his hopes of marking his debut season with a semi-final place should he complete a league double over reigning champion Phil Taylor.

Such a result would also create history, with no other player in the previous eight years of the Premier League having defeated Taylor twice in a league season – and Thornton, who won 7-4 when the pair met in Brighton last month, admits that the six-time champion will be out for revenge.

“He’ll be out for my blood!” said Thornton. “I’m just going to go up on stage and do my best and enjoy myself, and whatever happens will happen.

“You’ve got to thrive playing against the best players and I’ve done that for most of this season. If you don’t play at your best then they’ll run riot against you.”

Despite sitting fifth after 12 weeks, reigning UK Open champion Thornton could still cap his fine debut season by winning a Play-Off place, with Thursday’s clash with Taylor to be followed in Newcastle next week by games against Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen.

“It’s going to be tough,” he admitted. “I’ve got Phil this week and then Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen in the last week, so it’s going to be interesting.

“I had to do it like this when I won the UK Open. You’ve got to come up against the best to get through but I’ll be the underdog in the next couple of weeks and I’ll enjoy it.”

Taylor can secure his own Play-Off place with a 7-0 or 7-1 win over Thornton in Liverpool, having turned his faltering season around with three wins and a draw over the past fortnight.

“It’s been a great couple of weeks for me and it would be fantastic if I can qualify for the Play-Offs in Liverpool,” said Taylor. “The Premier League’s a marathon and it’s important to peak at the right time.

“My results have improved and so have my performances. I know I’ll need to play well against Robert because he’s having a great season and he was superb when we last played in Brighton.”

League leader Michael van Gerwen needs only a point from his game with Andy Hamilton in the night’s opening fixture to ensure his place in the Play-Offs.

Van Gerwen had suffered only his third defeat of the season last Thursday, when he went down 7-5 to Whitlock, but bounced back to win a fifth UK Open Qualifier out of eight events on Sunday.

“Winning on Sunday was good preparation for me because I’ve got a couple of tough weeks ahead in the Premier League,” said the Dutchman.

“Last week was disappointing for me and I don’t like losing, but it’s part of the game and you can’t win for 14 weeks in a row. I missed too many doubles but it’s a new game this week and I’ve got to make sure I win against Andy.”

Hamilton, meanwhile, has to win both of his games – against van Gerwen and Wade – and hope that Thornton fails to defeat Taylor if he is to keep alive his feint hopes of a Play-Off place going into the final league night.

The Stoke ace has lost his last four games, and admitted: “I’ve not performed for the last couple of weeks and I deserved what I’ve got, but I’m going to keep fighting.

“It’s going to be hard to turn it around but games against Michael and James will bring the best out of me – they’ve got to!

“Having been in the semi-finals last year, the chance to be there again is driving me on but I know it’s going to be even harder to get there now. Last year the table was a lot closer and this year the top four or five have pulled away from the bottom three.”

2009 champion Wade could also seal a Play-Off place should he win both of his games on Thursday as he faces Whitlock and Hamilton, with van Barneveld looking to follow up his brilliant win over the left-hander last week with another victory against Lewis.

“There are no easy matches and Adrian’s been playing some good darts but not getting results,” said van Barneveld. “Everyone in this tournament is a top player so it’s going to be hard.

“Making the semi-finals is the aim and if I can play like I did against James last week then I don’t have to fear anyone.”

Tickets for Thursday’s McCoy’s Premier League Darts at the Echo Arena in Liverpool are still available by calling 0844 8000 400 or visiting www.echoarena.com.

The McCoy’s Premier League Darts will be shown live on Sky Sports 2HD from 7pm, and live worldwide through RTL7 in the Netherlands, Sport1 in Germany, OSN across the Middle East, Fox Sports in Australia and through www.LIVEPDC.TV for International Pass Subscribers.

McCoy’s Premier League Darts Week 13 Fixtures

May 2 – The Echo Arena, Liverpool

Michael van Gerwen v Andy Hamilton
James Wade v Simon Whitlock
Robert Thornton v Phil Taylor
Raymond van Barneveld v Adrian Lewis
James Wade v Andy Hamilton

Play-Off Permutations
Michael van Gerwen v Andy Hamilton
A win or draw means van Gerwen has qualified for Play-Offs. He may also qualify despite a defeat depending on later results.
Hamilton must win to keep his Play-Off chances alive.

James Wade v Simon Whitlock
Whitlock must draw or win to keep his Play-Off chances alive.
A Wade win means he can qualify for Play-Offs if he also defeats Hamilton later in the night.

Robert Thornton v Phil Taylor
A 7-0 or 7-1 win for Taylor means he qualifies for Play-Offs.
Thornton’s Play-Off hopes will stay alive going into Night 14 regardless of the result.

Raymond van Barneveld v Adrian Lewis
Van Barneveld cannot seal his qualification for the Play-Offs, regardless of the result.
Lewis cannot qualify for the Play-Offs.

James Wade v Andy Hamilton
Any permutations based on this game depend on earlier results.

Match Betting Odds
Michael van Gerwen v Andy Hamilton
1/3 – Michael van Gerwen
5/1 – Draw
5/1 – Andy Hamilton

James Wade v Simon Whitlock
EVS – James Wade
7/2 – Draw
7/4 – Simon Whitlock

Robert Thornton v Phil Taylor
4/1 – Robert Thornton
9/2 – Draw
4/9 – Phil Taylor

Raymond van Barneveld v Adrian Lewis
4/9 – Raymond van Barneveld
9/2 – Draw
4/1 – Adrian Lewis

James Wade v Andy Hamilton
8/15 – James Wade
4/1 – Draw
7/2 – Andy Hamilton
All odds correct at 10am on May 1

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