Night 15 Premier League preview – Clayton and Aspinall in the race for the final spot at the O2

On Night 15 of the Cazoo Premier League in Sheffield, Michael Smith will begin his quest for a third straight nightly victory against reigning champion Michael van Gerwen.

The eagerly anticipated rematch of January’s historic World Championship final between Smith and Van Gerwen will take place on Thursday at the Utilita Arena during the penultimate night of league phase action for the 2023 season.

Last Thursday, the two joined Gerwyn Price in confirming their Play-Off qualification, leaving Jonny Clayton and Nathan Aspinall to compete at The O2 for the final spot.

With Chris Dobey, Dimitri Van den Bergh, and Peter Wright no longer in the running due to Smith’s victory at the AO Arena, Clayton and Aspinall are tied on 22 points heading into Night 15.

Last Thursday, the world’s top player won in Manchester for the third time in as many nights, defeating Aspinall, Van Gerwen, and Clayton to take home the £10,000 winner’s bonus.

Smith defeated Clayton with a 110 average in the decisive match last week to secure a Play-Off spot for the first time since 2018. Smith also won in Glasgow and Leeds earlier this season.

Night 15 Premier League preview - Clayton and Aspinall in the race for the final spot at the O2
Night 15 Premier League preview – Clayton and Aspinall in the race for the final spot at the O2 (PDC)

“In the last few years the World Champion hasn’t made the top four, so I’m over the moon to be through,” reflected Smith, who currently sits in third position – five points behind Price.

“It could have all gone wrong if I had lost to Nathan. I could have been sat in fifth place, but now I can relax going into Sheffield.

“I am starting to come good. I won Night Three in Glasgow and then struggled for seven or eight weeks, but it’s starting to click at the right time.

“The hard work starts again now. I’ve got to put the hours in on the board. I have two weeks to get ready for the Play-Offs, and hopefully I do.”


Van Gerwen, on the other hand, avoided losing in the quarterfinals for a third time in a row in Manchester by easily defeating Price before falling to Smith in the championship match.

With a win in Sheffield, the six-time champion could reclaim the top spot before Night 16 in Aberdeen. The Dutchman has won the league phase in eight of his previous ten campaigns.

The 2021 champion hopes to reach the Play-Offs for a third straight year when Van Gerwen or Smith face Clayton or Van den Bergh in the Thursday semifinals.

The Welshman Clayton reignited his season last month with back-to-back nightly victories in Berlin and Birmingham. In addition, victories over Wright and Dobey in Manchester allowed him to reclaim fourth place from Aspinall.

If Clayton wins in Sheffield and Aspinall loses his quarterfinal match, he will automatically qualify for the top four, but the 48-year-old is keeping his composure before his match against the top-ranked player from Belgium.

Photos from the Premier League event at the AO Arena, Manchester on Thursday 4th May 2023.

“Darts is a funny old game and we can all play world-class darts, so I am taking nothing for granted,” insisted Clayton, who topped last year’s league table.

“I made a really slow start [this year], but those two nightly wins made a massive difference and put me back in contention.

“I’ve got to do my own job first, but if Nathan loses to Gerwyn tomorrow night and I win my game against Dimitri, the ball is definitely in my court.

“I made the final in Manchester last week and I played well on the European Tour at the weekend, so my confidence is up, and my darts are going well. If I play my game, I’ve got a good chance.”


In the opening matchup of the night at the Utilita Arena, fifth-placed Aspinall will square off against league-leading Price.

In their four encounters in 2023, each player has won twice. Price prevailed in the Night Two final in Cardiff, but Aspinall avenged that loss by winning on Night 12 in Rotterdam.

Aspinall lost to Smith in the quarterfinals last Thursday, and Clayton overtook him. Price, despite averaging 104 against Van Gerwen, was eliminated at the same stage.

Price currently has a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League and is attempting to become just the fifth player in the competition’s history to do so after the league phase.

The winner will receive a matchup against Dobey or Wright in the semifinals. This will be their first Premier League meeting since Night One in Belfast, where Dobey defeated the Scot despite averaging 103 in order to win.

With his victory over Van den Bergh last Thursday, Dobey snapped a run of five straight league losses, moving up to sixth place.

Only the top three players in the league have higher tournament averages than Dobey, despite the Bedlington pitcher losing six out of the eight games in which he averaged over 100.

Wright, on the other hand, has struggled to reach new heights in his tenth Premier League campaign, making just one nightly final and winning just five games over the course of 14 weeks of play.

2023 Cazoo Premier League

Night 15 – Thursday May 11

Utilita Arena, Sheffield


Gerwyn Price v Nathan Aspinall

Chris Dobey v Peter Wright

Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith

Jonny Clayton v Dimitri Van den Bergh


Price/Aspinall v Dobey/Wright

Van Gerwen/Smith v Clayton/Van den Bergh



All matches played over the best of 11 legs