MICHAEL van Gerwen edged out Michael Smith 7-5, while Chris Dobey earned a 6-6 draw with Mensur Suljovic on a highly-entertaining opening night of the 2019 Unibet Premier League in Newcastle.

A repeat of the 2018 Premier League and 2018/19 World Championship finals saw reigning champion Van Gerwen begin his campaign with a narrow victory as the road to Play-Offs night at The O2 began at the Utilita Arena.

A hard-fought contest saw Smith land the first blow with a 93 checkout to break throw in the opening leg, only for Van Gerwen to break straight back with a 12-dart leg.

The Dutchman, who ended the match with a 104.98 average, doubled his advantage with another break to go 4-2 up, but Smith replied in kind immediately to make it 4-3 and then landed a spectacular 150 finish to level it up at 4-4.

Three holds of throw followed, with the game seemingly heading for a draw, before a perfectly-timed break of throw from Van Gerwen saw him narrowly come out on top of Smith once again.

"I was really glad I managed to win that last leg because I wouldn't have been happy with a draw," said Van Gerwen, who has topped the league phase every year since his 2013 debut year.

"We played some phenomenal legs and some not so good legs, so I have things to work on to improve over the next few weeks.

"Even without Gary Anderson this is going to be a very tough season and to beat a great player in Michael in my first game is the best way to start."

The tournament continues in Glasgow on Thursday February 14.

Night Two will see Michael Smith take on Peter Wright, Van Gerwen plays Suljovic, while three-time Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant makes his Premier League debut against Gurney.

2019 Unibet Premier League.

Night One - Thursday February 7.

Utilita Arena, Newcastle.

James Wade 7-4 Raymond van Barneveld.

Gerwyn Price 7-4 Daryl Gurney.

Chris Dobey 6-6 Mensur Suljovic.

Michael van Gerwen 7-5 Michael Smith.

Peter Wright 6-6 Rob Cross.

Night Two - Thursday February 14.

The SSE Hydro, Glasgow.

Peter Wright v Michael Smith.

Rob Cross v James Wade.

Raymond van Barneveld v Gerwyn Price.

Daryl Gurney v Glen Durrant.

Mensur Suljovic v Michael van Gerwen.