A tight Night One at the Marshall Arena saw four of the five matches end in draws, with Nathan Aspinall the only player to pick up two points.
World Matchplay champion Van den Bergh came close to claiming the scalp of five-time Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen, but had to settle with a point after the Dutchman hit a 101 checkout to end the contest 6-6.
Van den Bergh, who appeared as a Premier League Contender in Rotterdam in 2019, landed an eye-catching 164 checkout in the third leg. The confident young Belgian took the game to Van Gerwen, but the world number two showed he was up to the task with his only ton-plus checkout of the match with his final three darts.
Masters champion Jonny Clayton – who appeared as a Challenger in Cardiff in 2020 – impressed in his first game as a full-time Premier League player, averaging 105.56 to earn a draw against Peter Wright.
A high-quality contest saw Wright hit all six of his double attempts to counteract the Welshman’s relentless scoring power. Finishes of 106 and 138 saw Wright take a 5-3 lead, before Clayton replied with a 129 checkout to break straight back.
Wright led 6-5 heading into the final leg, but Clayton held his nerve, coolly tidying up 78 in two darts to ensure the points were shared. Wright averaged 101.20, but the 2017 Premier League runner-up feels confident of improving on that statistic throughout the opening week.
Gary Anderson produced the checkout of the night with a dramatic 156 finish to rescue a point against James Wade. Wade, who received a late call-up to this year’s competition following the positive Covid-19 test result of Gerwyn Price, took out trademark finishes of 96 and 87 to move into a 4-2 lead in the battle of the former Premier League champions.
Anderson battled back, winning three of the next four legs to level at 5-5, and with Wade waiting on 80 for the match, Anderson hit the 156 checkout to claim a point in style. Competing in his 11th Premier League campaign, Wade was pleased with his opening night’s work given the circumstances of his last minute addition to the line-up.
The opening game of the tournament saw Nathan Aspinall overturn the result of last year’s final as he defeated reigning champion Glen Durrant 7-3. Both players came into the opener out-of-form, but it was Aspinall who re-found a level closer to his best as he pinned 50% of his checkouts and hit five 180s.
A 124 checkout from Aspinall in the second leg settled any nerves before he went on to dominate the contest between two players competing in their second Premier League campaigns. Rob Cross fought back to deny Jose de Sousa a debut win, securing the last two legs to claim a draw.
Grand Slam of Darts winner De Sousa looked on course from a dream debut as he found double two to move 6-4 in front, only for Cross to hit 180s in each of the last two legs as he rescued a point.
Tuesday will see the second night of league phase action take place, as Van Gerwen and Wright meet in a repeat of the 2017 Premier League final.
Night One – Monday April 5th
(97.62) Nathan Aspinall 7-3 Glen Durrant (87.99)
(96.53) Rob Cross 6-6 Jose de Sousa (91.66)
(101.20) Peter Wright 6-6 Jonny Clayton (105.42)
(98.14) James Wade 6-6 Gary Anderson (98.13)
(100.16) Michael van Gerwen 6-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh (99.52)
Night Two – Tuesday April 6th
Gary Anderson v Jose de Sousa
Jonny Clayton v Glen Durrant
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Nathan Aspinall
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
James Wade v Rob Cross
Night Three – Wednesday April 7th
Rob Cross v Michael van Gerwen
Glen Durrant v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Wright v Gary Anderson
Nathan Aspinall v James Wade
Jose de Sousa v Jonny Clayton
Night Four – Thursday April 8th
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton v Rob Cross
Jose de Sousa v Nathan Aspinall
James Wade v Michael van Gerwen
Gary Anderson v Glen Durrant
Night Five – Friday April 9th
Gary Anderson v Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright v Rob Cross
Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall
James Wade v Glen Durrant
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Jose de Sousa