Chris Dobey produces Hollywood ending to win Premier League debut in Belfast
Newly-crowned Masters champion Chris Dobey produced a Hollywood ending to his full-time Premier League debut as he defeated Michael Van Gerwen on opening night in Belfast.
Dobey – who had twice featured as a contender before his elevation to the main circuit for 2023 – capped a memorable performance at The SSE Arena with a fine 160 finish to beat the Dutchman in a last-leg decider.
After dropping the opening leg of the best-of-11 final, Dobey recovered to land a 170 checkout and level straight back before breaking Van Gerwen to lead 3-1.
Van Gerwen, the defending champion and chasing a record-breaking seventh Premier League title, recovered to land a crucial 114 checkout in the sixth leg to tie the match.
Both men then held throw to force a last-leg decider, which Dobey secured after landing two treble 20s followed by double top.
“I had to try to stay calm all night,” Dobey told Sky Sports after his victory. “I knew I could come up here and win, I had confidence from the Masters, so I knew I could do it on the big stage.
“I knew how good I could be. It was just getting that consistency and I think I am there now.
“Once I had won it (Masters), I felt I deserved my place (in the Premier League) and I have come out tonight and shown that.”
In the semi-finals, Van Gerwen had confidently dispatched Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-4 with an average of 106.
Dobey continued his momentum to edged out Nathan Aspinall, who shares the same management team, also winning 6-4.
The first match to start the evening’s action saw Van Den Bergh – who had reached the last four of both the World Matchplay and World Championship – defeat 2021 Premier League winner Jonny Clayton 6-2.
Elsewhere in the quarter-finals, Van Gerwen gained some revenge over world champion Michael Smith, who had beaten him in an epic final at Alexandra Palace, with a 6-3 victory, landing two maximums with an average of just over 102.
Dobey had marked his first match as a full-time Premier League participant with a 6-3 win over two-time world champion Peter Wright, who had recently returned to form when claiming the Nordic Darts Masters title.
Aspinall, making his third appearance in the Premier League, runner-up in 2020, fended off a fightback from Gerwyn Price to progress to the semi-finals with a 6-4 win, which included three maximums and a 130 checkout.
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox