It’s back! Premier League Darts will commence its seemingly endless journey around the UK and parts of Europe tonight and culminate in a final at London’s O2 Arena on May 19.
The world’s ten finest tungsten tossers will convene to duke it out for the top prize and the crown of Premier League champion; a mantle that Gary Anderson currently holds after following up his World Championship triumph in fine style.
He will be looking to do likewise in 2016, although the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Dave Chisnall might have something to say about that.
The Title Contenders
Indeed it is MVG who has finished top of the league phase of the competition for the last three years – but only won the tournament once. Remember that the players play each other in a round robin league format to determine the top four players who will head on to the semi-finals.
And so a win ratio of 33% is not all that appetising from the Dutchman, and at a price of 5/4 we are happy to oppose him despite his Masters triumph last weekend.
It is Anderson who is the reigning champion after defeating van Gerwen 11-7 in last year’s final, and while there are always peaks and troughs of form from the Flying Scotsman across a 16 match league campaign you can be sure he’ll pick up the eight or nine wins required to finish in the top four. He is perhaps the smart value here at 4/1.
These are the punters’ famous last words but we feel like we can dismiss two of the players towards the head of the market here. Adrian Lewis – despite a fine run at the Worlds – hasn’t finished in the top four of the league stage in the last three years, while Phil Taylor – despite a new set of darts and improvements shown at the Masters – still looks a fragile sort.
And so there’s two other players to keep an eye on: Raymond van Barneveld has finished in the top four in each of the last three years, and he is available at 7/2 to do the same again. Nobody ever really tips the Dutchman any more as he isn’t the player he was, but such consistency in this event cannot be discounted.
And a player we really like is Dave Chisnall. He still hasn’t entered the elite level of player yet, but he played some sublime stuff at the Masters after a shaky start to reach the final. Chizzy bludgeoned his way to through the league phase of this tournament last year too, before eventually losing 9-10 to Anderson in the last four. At 22/1, and bookies paying out on each way bets for losing finalists, he looks the sensible play here.
Chisnall looks a fantastic price in another market too: Most 180s in the Tournament. Nobody threw more maximums than him in either the 2015 or 2014 renewal of this event, and he’s 11/2 to top the market again.
The first round of fixtures takes place at Leeds’ First Direct Arena, and the schedule looks like this:
- Peter Wright v Michael Smith
- Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
- Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
- Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
- Robert Thornton v Dave Chisnall
Of those it is Peter Wright who catches the eye at 11/10 to beat debutant Michael Smith. The Scot is throwing the best darts of his life at the moment, while first-timers tend to take a while to find their feet in the tournament. Last year the two debutants, Stephen Bunting and Kim Huybrechts, failed to win until Round 5 of fixtures, and the raucous atmosphere is unlike anything that Smith will have encountered before.
Taylor hasn’t beaten van Barneveld in their last five Premier League meetings, so taking the Dutchman with a Draw No Bet kicker at 7/5 looks like it’s got legs, while van Gerwen has beaten Wade in nine of their last ten meetings.