ASPINALL AIMING TO BUILD ON LANDMARK WIN IN LEEDS
Nathan Aspinall is aiming to build upon his landmark Rotterdam win when the Cazoo Premier League roadshow rolls into Leeds' First Direct Arena on Thursday.
Aspinall will begin his Night 13 campaign against Dimitri Van den Bergh in front of a sell-out crowd in West Yorkshire, after becoming the sixth player to celebrate a nightly Premier League victory in 2023 last Thursday.
The former Premier League runner-up catapulted himself into third spot in the table after overcoming home favourite Michael van Gerwen, Van den Bergh and Gerwyn Price on a memorable night in the Netherlands.
Van den Bergh, meanwhile, ended a run of four straight quarter-final exits in Rotterdam, but his semi-final defeat to Aspinall still leaves him eight points adrift of Play-Off qualification.
The Stockport star would widen that gap with a third consecutive win over the Belgian, and Aspinall believes last week's success at the Rotterdam Ahoy could prove to be season-defining.
"I needed a big performance. It puts me back in contention and the other boys are chasing me now, not the other way around," added the former UK Open champion.
"I have worked so hard. I've changed something to try and find what I needed to find to keep me calm in situations, and it all came together [in Rotterdam].
"I've always got the belief that I can win tournaments and nights in the Premier League, but after that week in Brighton I didn't think I would be able to walk back on the stage.
"That's how bad I felt. People won't understand what I've been through over the last two or three months. It's been very tough.
"I am dealing with it. There has clearly been a flaw with my throw, but I'm working with the right people to sort this out."
Elsewhere, Price is bidding to extend his lead at the top of the table and secure his Play-Off spot ahead of his all-Welsh quarter-final against his World Cup partner Jonny Clayton.
Price has produced a string of imperious displays to overhaul Van Gerwen at the top of the table, and a fifth nightly win of 2023 will seal his Play-Off qualification for the first time in his career.
The Welshman has celebrated wins in Cardiff, Nottingham, Newcastle and Brighton to establish a 12-point lead over fifth-placed Michael Smith, with just four nights of league action remaining.
Price and Clayton have been the league's dominant forces over recent weeks - winning five of the last six Premier League nights between them - with Clayton claiming back-to-back victories in Berlin and Birmingham respectively.
The 2021 champion is bidding to confirm a top four finish for the third consecutive year, but Price has won three of their four tussles in this year's event - all of which have taken place since Night Seven.
Reigning champion Van Gerwen is also aiming to reclaim top spot on Night 13, and he will be in quarter-final action against 2017 runner-up Peter Wright, who could see his Play-Off aspirations ended with defeat in Leeds.
Van Gerwen surrendered his place at the Premier League summit following his defeat to Aspinall on home soil, and he's determined to return to winning ways at the First Direct Arena.
"I've had some good patches, some good games. I've been quite steady," reflected Van Gerwen, who has topped the league phase in eight of his previous ten appearances.
"You need to keep sharp, because the Premier League is not a sprint, it's a marathon. The main target is to make sure you make the Play-Offs, and I think I am already in.
"Finishing top of the table shows that you've been really consistent and you've been the best player over 16 weeks.
"Of course I want to finish top, but I am not keeping myself busy with records."
World Champion Smith and Masters champion Chris Dobey lock horns in the evening's opener, with both players eyeing a response following quarter-final defeats last Thursday.
Smith slipped outside of the top four places for the first time since Night Two following Aspinall's exploits on Dutch soil, despite reaching Brighton's Night 11 final just a fortnight ago.
Dobey is aiming to halt his run of four consecutive Premier League defeats, although he has won his last three televised ties against Smith, including both meetings in this year's competition.
Thirteenth Night's Quarterfinals:
Michael Smith v Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price v Jonny Clayton
Nathan Aspinall v Dimitri van den Bergh