Michael Smith defeated Luke Littler before losing to Luke Humphries in the Night Six final in Brighton; Humphries moves to second and within three points of Michael van Gerwen; Watch the Premier League Darts every week on Sky Sports

Luke Humphries believes he is performing as well as his World Championship success after securing a breakthrough Premier League night win during Night Six in Brighton.


The world No 1 closed within three points of Michael van Gerwen at the top of the season-long standings after three impressive displays at the Brighton Centre, where he brushed aside Gerwyn Price, Rob Cross and Michael Smith to move second in the table.


Humphries reeled off four consecutive legs to thrash Price 6-2 in the quarter-finals before firing a 113.71 average – the performance of the tournament so far – to beat Cross 6-3, then despatched Smith by the same margin in a high-scoring final.



Luke Humphries overcame Michael Smith 6-3 to pick up his first nightly win in the Premier League.


“I think it’s probably the best I’ve played and the best I’ve felt since the World Championship,” said Humphries, who suffered a final-leg defeat in the final of the UK Open on Sunday. “The UK Open was a massive boost for me. I know I didn’t win it, but my game was in a good place.


“I played well and I came here today and upped my game even more, which is important for me. I think after the World Championship, everyone expected me to win everything, which is not going to happen.



Luke Humphries was thrilled after beating Michael Smith to pick up his first nightly victory in the Premier League.


“There are so many great players out there, and winning nights like these are fantastic. I’m really proud of the way I’ve played tonight. I just love the game to bits, and to be involved in the Premier League is a privilege.


“I feel like I belong here, and hopefully I’m here for a long time in the future.



Humphries was beaten by Luke Littler on the first two nights of the season before losing to Michael van Gerwen in a final-leg decider in the final of Night Three, before suffering last-leg defeats to Cross and Nathan Aspinall respectively over the next two weeks.


Cool Hand’s night win came on a week where league leader Van Gerwen made a quarter-final exit and Aspinall was also eliminated early, with Sky Sports’ Wayne Mardle backing Humphries to continue to impress during the rest of the season.



“He [Humphries] has been incredible for a lot of the weeks, but without winning,” Mardle told Sky Sports. “Winning’s difficult and it just shows you how difficult it is because that final got a bit edgy at one point, even though he was dominating.


“Some of the performances tonight – against Gerwyn Price he was kind of unplayable then he got even better against Rob Cross, who was amazing.



“There are so many players in the world of darts we’ve said that are great, but at the moment, is anyone as consistently good as Luke Humphries? Possibly not.


“Michael Van Gerwen was winning weeks without playing at his best. We’ve had someone play brilliantly on a night and win and Michael Van Gerwen found ways of playing OK and winning. So yeah, Luke’s the man to beat now.


A stunning 143 checkout saw Luke Humphries edge ahead in the final versus Michael Smith.


“He’s an absolute gent. Darts is lucky to have him as as their world champion, as their world No 1, because he does a lot right. He looks great, there’s no negatives with Luke and my word, he can play and he makes the game look so simple at times.”



Luke Littler remains inside the top-four of the season-long standings after reaching the semi-finals on Night Six, although the 17-year-old experienced struggles with his finishing as his wait for a night victory continues.


Littler missed 14 out of 20 attempts at double during his quarter-final victory over Nathan Aspinall, then only converted three out of his 15 checkout opportunities during a 6-3 loss against Michael Smith.


Michael Smith beat Luke Littler 6-3 to secure his place in the final of the Premier League Darts in Brighton.


“We [Littler] expect amazing things when he steps on stage,” Mardle added. “Apart from Humphries in the Premier League, I know Van Gerwen has been getting the wins, but numbers-wise the statistics suggest he’s playing some of the best darts.


“The way that he’s scoring, he’s right up there with what anyone’s doing in the Premier League. The finishing is not great, so there’s improvement to be made, but he needs to start getting wins though.


Wayne Mardle believes Luke Littler is playing as well as anyone in the Premier League but has urged him to make sure he’s winning more matches.


“He played great in the UK Open, but didn’t win. He has played some amazing games in this [Premier League] but not won a weekly event. He needs to start crossing the line and winning because, once that starts to happen, it will become a habit for him.


Premier League Darts now heads to the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham on Thursday March 14. Night Seven starts with Peter Wright vs Price, followed by Humphries vs Smith, Van Gerwen vs Littler, and Cross vs Aspinall.



Gideon Canice

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