2024 Premier League: Michael Smith Wins Night One in Cardiff

The curtain has risen on the 2024 BetMGM Premier League with a spectacular Night One at Cardiff's Utilita Arena, delivering an evening of darting drama and intense competition. The quartet comprising Luke Humphries, Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith, and Nathan Aspinall, holding the esteemed positions in the PDC Order of Merit's top four, were accompanied by four wild cards in the form of Rob Cross, Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright, and the rising teenage sensation Luke Littler.

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-02-01

Wade McElwain

9 minutes read

Night One at Cardiff’s Utilita Arena

The spotlight descended upon Cardiff's Utilita Arena for the first night of Premier League action, which was marked by the compelling narratives of hometown hero Gerwyn Price and the debut appearances of young sensations Luke Littler and Luke Humphries.

As the Welsh capital played host to this electrifying evening of darting prowess, anticipation ran high to witness how Price, with the fervent support of his local fans, would navigate the challenges. Simultaneously, the debutants, Littler and Humphries, sought to make indelible marks in their inaugural Premier League appearances, adding an extra layer of excitement to an already thrilling season opener.


Peter Wright vs. Rob Cross

In a gripping opening quarterfinal clash at Cardiff's Utilita Arena during Night One at the 2024 BetMGM Premier League, Rob Cross made a triumphant return to the premier league, securing a 6-3 victory over Peter Wright.

The match unfolded as a fiercely contested battle for the first seven legs, with Cross breaking Wright’s throw in the eighth leg through an impressive three-dart finish on 109. Despite Cross missing four match darts on double 18, he ultimately sealed the win as Wright faltered on tops.

Cross displayed steady dominance with an average score of 93.65, outscoring his opponent. However, his inconsistency on the doubles provided Wright with opportunities, a trend that did not escape notice. Wright, on the other hand, showcased a form reminiscent of last year, struggling to deliver his best on the grand stage. 



Gerwyn Price vs. Nathan Aspinall

To the discomfort of the home Welsh crowd, Nathan Aspinall took an early lead against Gerwyn Price by breaking the Welshman's throw to claim the first leg. Holding his throw in the second leg, Aspinall secured a 2-0 advantage amid a series of missed doubles from both players.

However, the hometown hero, Price, demonstrated his resilience and determination, shifting the momentum in his favour. Winning six of the next eight legs, Price showcased his prowess with a superb 124 finish and sealed the match with a Shanghai 120 finish, ultimately triumphing 6-4. Despite Aspinall's strong start, he struggled to maintain his footing in front of the biased Welsh crowd, making it a challenging afternoon for the Englishman.


Michael van Gerwen vs. Michael Smith

In a gripping third match of the night between Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen, the stage was set for a high-stakes encounter. Smith took an early lead, with an exceptional 120 finish to make it 2-0. However, MVG swiftly countered, levelling the game at two legs apiece.

The back-and-forth battle continued as Smith claimed the next two legs, only to be matched once again by van Gerwen, bringing the game to a level playing field for the second time. The intensity peaked as the match entered a last-leg decider, with van Gerwen impressively hitting five 180s throughout the contest. Despite the remarkable effort, the reigning Premier League champion fell short in securing victory on the first night of the tournament, adding an unexpected twist to the proceedings in Cardiff.



Luke Littler vs. Luke Humphries

The final quarterfinal of the evening featured a highly anticipated clash between the two debutants, Luke Littler and Luke Humphries, marking their second encounter since the thrilling 2024 World Championship final. The Nuke seized the initiative by taking first blood with a solid 80 checkout, but Humphries responded swiftly, showcasing his skill with a three-dart finish of 108.

Littler then capitalised on mistakes in doubles from Humphries, securing the next two legs and establishing a 3-1 lead. The momentum surged with a spectacular 11-dart leg from Littler, extending his advantage to 4-1. Inevitably, Littler continued his impressive performance, ultimately winning the tie 6-2 with a just-over-a-ton-plus average.

Despite whistles from the crowd seemingly affecting Humphries' concentration during the match, Littler's dream debut remained unmarred, leaving an indelible mark on the Premier League night in Cardiff.



Rob Cross vs. Gerwyn Price

In an electrifying display in front of his fervent home crowd, Gerwyn Price ignited the first semi-final with a sensational 117 finish. The match then unfolded with both players holding their own throws until the pivotal sixth leg when Price successfully broke Rob Cross' throw, seizing a 4-2 lead.

Price then delivered a stylish conclusion to the game, landing on the bull to finish off 87 and the match to secure his spot in the final once again in Cardiff. Notably, Price exhibited his highest average (101.84) on the night, further adding to the spectacle of his dominant performance against a formidable opponent in Rob Cross.


Michael Smith vs. Luke Littler

The early legs of the match saw both players holding their own throws, with Smith fending off pressure from Littler to make the game 3-2. Until Smith made a decisive move, breaking Littler's throw with an impressive 12-dart leg to take a 4-2 lead.

Undeterred, Littler rallied in the subsequent legs, showcasing resilience and tying the game at 4-4, highlighted by an emphatic bull finish in the seventh leg. Smith momentarily reclaimed the lead with a 76 finish in the ninth leg, but Littler swiftly responded, forcing the match into a final leg decider.

In a tense moment, Littler missed a crucial match dart on the double 15, providing Bully Boy the opportunity to capitalise and secure victory. Despite Littler's impressive scoring throughout the game, boasting the highest average of the evening at 105.31, it wasn't enough to overcome the clinical finishing of Smith, who emerged triumphant in a closely contested semi-final.


Final: Gerwyn Price vs. Michael Smith

The final between Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price showcased a one-sided battle in Cardiff's Utilita Arena. Price initiated the contest with a solid 80 checkout, swiftly countered by Smith, who took the following two legs with rapid-fire 180 visits.

Smith's dominance continued as he secured another two legs, showcasing his class with a 120 finish. Breaking the hearts of the Welsh fans, Smith extended his lead to 5-1 with an impressive 107 finish in the sixth leg. Despite a stop-and-start comeback attempt from Price, who claimed the seventh leg, Smith sealed the night's victory in Cardiff with a double 10, triumphing 6-2.

This resounding win propelled Michael Smith to the top of the Premier League table after night one, setting the stage for an anticipated rematch in the quarterfinals at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin. The final delivered a spectacle of high-quality darts, leaving fans eager for more intense showdowns in the upcoming stages of the competition.


Image credit: Professional Darts Corporation (PDC)

Louis Hobbs
Louis HobbsLead Journalist

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.