The Premier League Darts season kicks off at the Utilita Arena in Newcastle on Thursday evening and it does so with nine men eyeing up the big prize come the end of the season and the first of nine others looking to take in the incredible atmosphere with a match on the big stage.
Among the highlights on the first night of action is the contender Chris Dobey taking on Mensur Suljovic on home soil, while there is also a repeat of the World Championship final and much more to enjoy.
James Wade vs Raymond Barneveld
The season begins with The Masters finalist James Wade taking on a man embarking on his final Premier League campaign in Raymond Barneveld with two huge points up for grabs between two men who might be fighting for a semi-final spot later in the campaign.
Barneveld has a narrow 25-22 edge on Wade in their past meetings but it will be interesting to see what sort of form Barneveld is in. He went out of the World Championship pretty meekly and hasn’t been seen at an oche since then. Wade went well enough in that tournament and has already proven his form since then. Something tells me this is a trappy match to be backing Wade in however. I’ve backed him to make the semi-final so I get something out of him winning without backing him here. I want to see what the Dutchman has before getting involved in his matches.
Gerwyn Price vs Daryl Gurney
The second match of the night could be a spicy affair as Gerwyn Price takes on Daryl Gurney in a clash which shouldn’t lack for spice at any stage given the competitiveness of the pair and their aggressiveness on the oche.
Price has an absolutely superb record against Gurney with seven wins from their nine matches. One event he didn’t beat him in was the Premier League last year when they drew 6-6 but the Welshman must like his chances based on that. Gurney can be brilliant when he is on it, but he can flatter to deceive too and we’ve seen both in the last couple of months so it remains to be seen what we will see from him.
I fancy Price will feel he has a point to prove in this tournament. He didn’t fare very well with the occasion or the event last year and being a competitive person I think he’ll look to make up for that here. He clearly enjoys playing Gurney and maybe shouldn’t be the outsider in this match. I’ll take him on the draw no bet market.
Chris Dobey vs Mensur Suljovic
Mensur Suljovic is the first person to take on one of the contenders and his match comes against Chris Dobey, who will be playing on home soil as a Newcastle player. Dobey can’t win points in this match but he can put a spanner in the works of Suljovic so the Austrian has little to gain really.
I guess with the crowd behind him there is probably a bit of value in Dobey here but to be fair to Suljovic he looked in decent touch in Milton Keynes at the weekend before he ploughed into an unstoppable Michael van Gerwen. This is probably a match to leave alone and so that is what I will do.
Michael van Gerwen vs Michael Smith
The penultimate match of the opening evening sees Michael van Gerwen taking on Michael Smith in a repeat of both the final of this tournament last year and the World Championship at the beginning of this one.
Van Gerwen won both of those so Smith shouldn’t lack for motivation in this match but motivation is one thing, whether he has the quality to get anything is something quite different. MVG leads their head to head battle 26-6 but worryingly for Smith, in their three meetings in the Premier League last season the cumulative leg score was 25-7 in the Dutchman’s favour.
Given their recent record, and the fact that van Gerwen is at home in this match it makes sense to take him -2.5 legs given that he would need to break throw in the final leg of the game to win 7-5, the only scoreline in which he can win and the handicap wouldn’t land. That would be no odds on shot to happen. I’ll go with MVG on the handicap.
Peter Wright vs Rob Cross
The final match of the opening night of the season sees the world numbers two and three in action when the third ranked player Peter Wright takes on Rob Cross, who is one above him in those world rankings heading into the campaign.
Cross goes into the match leading Wright 7-5 in their past meetings as well as a draw in their second match in this competition last year but in truth there isn’t much between the pair of them. This one is likely to be decided by who hits their doubles the best but we would be guessing as to who that will be so I’m in no massive rush to get involved here.
WON – Back G.Price to beat D.Gurney (DNB) for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with Boylesports
Back him here:
Back M.van Gerwen (-2.5 legs) to beat M.Smith for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Betway