The first big darts tournament of the year gets underway on Thursday night when the ever popular Premier League Darts begins in Newcastle. Over the next 16 weeks 10 of the best players in the world will battle it out for points to try and get into a position to secure a lucrative title at the o2 Arena in May.
2016 – Michael van Gerwen
2015 – Gary Anderson
2014 – Raymond Barneveld
2013 – Michael van Gerwen
2012 – Phil Taylor
2011 – Gary Anderson
2010 – Phil Taylor
2009 – James Wade
2008 – Phil Taylor
2007 – Phil Taylor
10 of the best players in the world take each other on over the best of 14 leg matches for the first nine weeks of the tournament. At the end of that part of the tournament the bottom two in the table will be eliminated on Judgement Night and the remaining eight will play each other again. At the end of that stage the top four go through to the playoffs at the o2 Arena in May. There are 2pts for a league win and a point for a draw.
The 10 Players
Michael van Gerwen – Defending champion, world champion and world number one
Gary Anderson – World no2, World Championship finalist
Peter Wright – World no3, UK Open finalist
Adrian Lewis – World no4, World Cup winner
James Wade – World no5, Grand Slam finalist
Phil Taylor – World no6, Champions League winner, World Matchplay finalist
Dave Chisnall – World no7, Players Championship finalist
Raymond Barneveld – World no10, World Championship semi-finalist
Jelle Klaasen – World no9, UK Open semi-finalist
Kim Huybrechts – World no13, International Darts Open finalist
Michael van Gerwen is the 4/7 favourite to retain his Premier League title. He goes into the season off the back of the most extraordinary year many can remember and is fully worthy of his tag as favourite but he does have a child on the horizon so that could distract him nearer the crunch time of this event so that is something to bear in mind.
Gary Anderson is a twice winner of this tournament and he is 5/1 to land the title again. The Scot has made the final of the World Championship and The Masters already in 2017 and the latter was with little practice. You would think he is the main danger to van Gerwen.
Peter Wright keeps knocking on the door for a major title. Whether he has the consistency to get the job done here I’m not sure but he is playing well and should he get to the o2 he is perfectly capable of winning a couple of matches. He is a fair price at 12/1.
Phil Taylor could be playing in his last Premier League season and he is 16/1 to win the title again. I think that is a bit far-fetched in truth. I no longer think he is a certainly to make the o2 but if he does then he will be dangerous when he gets there. On that basis he is a big price but he isn’t for me.
Raymond Barneveld knows how to go the course and distance in this tournament and we saw at the World Championship that he is playing as well as ever. Consistency has always been his issue but he has spoken about doing the tour again this year in which case his sharpness should be better throughout and that should give him every chance of making the top four. From there he could be dangerous too.
I’m not necessarily against Michael van Gerwen in this tournament but even if he wins the event he has to beat someone in the final and there is plenty of each way value in behind him. Of course there is a chance he will be beaten so there is enough reason to take him on.
Gary Anderson looks likely to go well this season but I’ve a feeling there will be a real bunfight for the other two spots at the o2. If Raymond Barneveld can get one of them then he has every chance of landing a place if not win the tournament. We know he can go toe-to-toe with van Gerwen as he was 2-2 in sets with him in their World Championship semi-final which would equate to the same distance as a playoff match in this.
I respect plenty of others in this field but Barneveld has to be overpriced at 33/1 with his new found dedication and motivation for the game.
Since the expansion of the Premier League to account for 10 players I’ve always felt there will be a couple of players out of their depth. We’ve seen that with the likes of Wes Newton and Michael Smith in the past and you could argue they’ve never really recovered.
Kim Huybrechts has only had one previous Premier League season and he finished bottom in the table and I’m expecting a repeat here. I’m not wholly convinced the world rankings mean a huge amount in a tournament like this but Huybrechts is clearly the worst player in the competition and really and truly didn’t do much in 2016 to justify his position in the tournament.
Jelle Klaasen is the other recent arrival in the tournament but he has the scoring power and the potential to average high numbers that Huybrechts just doesn’t have. I expect the Belgian to be eliminated on Judgement Night by finishing bottom.
There are some serial 180 hitters in this tournament with Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Dave Chisnall and Raymond Barneveld up there with the very best and it is a market that is worth exploring.
I like taking Michael van Gerwen on in this market. There are a couple of reasons for that. Firstly he often wins matches in this tournament easier than others so plays fewer legs and also because he switches a lot to assist his scoring too and others don’t do that. Last season was the first that van Gerwen had topped the 180s in the regular season so he looks a little short in the market.
I believe that Gary Anderson and Dave Chisnall will battle it out for the most 180s tag but with Chisnall suddenly missing far too many doubles for comfort which could get him in real trouble in terms of survival I am going to favour Anderson. Something pretty unbelievable would have to happen for Anderson not to make the playoffs and with the scoring power he has that alone makes 3/1 on him for the most tournament 180s look big in what is a pretty restricted field overall.
Back R.Barneveld to win Premier League Darts (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Boylesports (1/3 1-2)
WON – Back K.Huybrechts to Finish Bottom for a 3/10 stake at 2.75 with Betfred
Back him here:
Back G.Anderson Most Tournament 180s for a 2/10 stake at 4.00 with Bet365