Another season of Premier League Darts gets underway in Cardiff on Thursday night as another eight dartists tour the country and the continent in the biggest invitational event of the year and the one which sparks 2024 into life.
Michael van Gerwen once again got his hands on the title in 2023 and he is one of the eight men in the field this year and aiming to defend the title successfully but the field looks good once again and all seven opponents will fancy their chances.
2023 – Michael van Gerwen
2022 – Michael van Gerwen
2021 – Jonny Clayton
2020 – Glen Durrant
2019 – Michael van Gerwen
2018 – Michael van Gerwen
2017 – Michael van Gerwen
2016 – Michael van Gerwen
2015 – Gary Anderson
2014 – Raymond van Barneveld
We have the same format which was used for the first time last season. Each of the 16 nights will have its own tournament with quarter finals, semi-finals and a final where league table points will be won and lost. The winner of each night gets five points with the finalist getting three. The two semi-finalists get two points each. Each player will play the other seven in a quarter final twice over the 16 nights with the league table determining the order for the other two evenings. Each night also has £10,000 up for grabs for the winner. At the end of the season the points are added up with the top four heading to London for finals night. The 16 qualifying nights sees all matches over the best of 11 legs while the semi-finals on the final night are the best of 19 legs and the winner crowned over the best of 21.
The field is made up in the same way this year as it has been recently when the top four in the world rankings are automatic qualifiers for the tournament. The world champion and world number one Luke Humphries therefore made it in as the top dog. The defending champion Michael van Gerwen is sat at number two in the world despite not getting any ranking points for his win in this last year while the 2023 world champion Michael Smith also got into the field automatically. The last member of the top four is the World Matchplay winner Nathan Aspinall who gets another taste of the Premier League.
The remainder of the field is made up by wildcard picks and three of the next four players in the world rankings will occupy some of the spots with Danny Noppert the one member of the top eight not here. That means that Gerwyn Price, Rob Cross and Peter Wright are all in the field and while there were plenty of contenders for the other spot that predictably went to the World Championship finalist Luke Littler to complete the lineup.
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The world champion Luke Humphries is embarking on a first Premier League campaign and he is the 3/1 favourite to add the tournament to the World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts and World Championship major titles. He has certainly been the man to beat over recent times but this will be the first time he has been active for so long so often and the format doesn’t necessarily suit the form horses. You would expect him to be in the top four though so then you have 3/1 that he has a good night when it matters.
Luke Littler and Michael van Gerwen come joint second in the betting. They can both be backed at 7/2. You would imagine that the Littler price is largely down to the amount of money the bookmakers will take on him because this is a tough ask for someone so young and inexperienced to prevail in this company. Van Gerwen is a completely different proposition. We know he will finish in the top four barring something very extraordinary and we also know he knows how to peak at the o2.
Gerwyn Price is the only other player at a single figure price. The Welshman can be taken at 13/2 to get his hands on the Premier League for the first time but he is the first player in the betting that offers no interest to me at all. We see it year on year that the crowds at these huge venues don’t let him play and that is reflected in his record in the tournament. Last year was the first time in five attempts that he has made the semi-finals and there is enough depth in this competition that I fancy he might miss out on the top four again. I don’t see him as a title challenger.
I don’t really see a world where Michael van Gerwen doesn’t make the top four of this competition. In my eyes Peter Wright is making up the numbers while Gerwyn Price will be fighting the crowd most weeks and the form of Michael Smith has dropped off a cliff which would be a concern in a tournament where consistency is the key in the early parts. That means MVG needs to beat one other to get to the o2 and I expect that to happen and when he is there he’ll be extremely motivated to retain his title. He has won this title seven times and lost in the final on two other occasions and we saw in his homeland that he is in decent form. He’s my pick for the title.
There is often an outsider who makes it through to the o2 though and that might well be Rob Cross. Cross looked in decent order at the World Championship and looked like he was all over Luke Littler in the early stages of their semi-final only for the youngster to turn it around the longer it went on. He wouldn’t have time to turn things around in this event though which is of interest. Cross has been to the final of this event before and hasn’t been in the Premier League for three seasons so he’ll be relishing his return to the competition and at 12/1 I think he’s the outsider that could do the most damage.
Back M.van Gerwen to win Premier League Darts for a 3/10 stake at 4.50 with Bet365
Back R.Cross to win Premier League Darts (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 with BetVictor (1/3 1-2)