It’s a weekly celebration of top tungsten or a shameless ploy on the part of Barry Hearn to cash in on darts’ increasing popularity with an arena tour that Celine Dion would be proud of. Either way, Premier League Darts is back.
From Thursday of this week, ten of the finest dartists on the planet will lock horns in a round robin league format to decide who battles it out for ultimate glory at the O2 Arena on May 18. Yes, that’s 16 weeks of darts in venues from Aberdeen to Rotterdam. You can’t call Hearn anything other than a fine opportunist, really.
Even if you only have a passing interest in the sport then you won’t be surprised to learn that Michael van Gerwen is the defending champion; this is a format tailor-made for the Dutchman, who is simply better than anybody else. The longer format of the Premier League gives him ample opportunity to prove it.
You’ll also not be surprised to learn that MVG is the 8/15 favourite with the bookmakers to defend his crown, and the way in which he demolished the field at last week’s Masters suggests the price is fair. Clearly, we won’t be getting involved at such short odds, however.
So we must seek value elsewhere; and we may just have found some.
Motivated Barney a Force to Be Reckoned With
The long-winded nature of the competition means that players have to be motivated for the arduous journey ahead; yes, it’s only throwing darts at a board, but it is also 16 weeks away from home pretty much on the road relentlessly. It is not an adventure for the faint of heart.
Given that his walk-on music is the Eye of the Tiger, you might assume that Raymond van Barneveld is a fiery, in-your-face type. But he isn’t; if the Dutchman was any more laidback he would have to levitate to get about.
But there was a certain steel to RVB at the World Championships in December/January, and his semi-final exit suggests he is ready to mix it with the big boys once again. He exited the Masters at the quarter-final stage, but that was largely thanks to an inspired showing from Gary Anderson, who averaged 106.50 in his 10-6 win. Barney was over 100 with 42% on his doubles; not too shabby at all.
RVB has finished in the top four of the league phase in two of his last three attempts, and at 15/8 he looks a fantastic price to do so once again.
The 2017 Premier League kicks off at Newcastle’s Metro Arena on Thursday, and some intriguing betting value immediately catches the eye. Take a look at the acca terms below:
We’ll swerve the Gary Anderson vs MVG clash as anything could happen there, and instead start with the opening game of the night. Kim Huybrechts will surely be nervous on his return to the Premier League fold, and he didn’t particularly impress at the Masters. James Wade will do what he always does and grind out a result – he’s the man to back here in the Double Chance market.
RVB looks well primed to start his campaign with a bang, but Adrian Lewis – his opponent on Thursday – showed up well in Milton Keynes and appears confident. Backing Over 10.5 Legs (it’s a best-of-12 remember) gives us some security.
Our last selection is Phil Taylor to beat Dave Chisnall. There has been a twinkle in the Power’s eye ever since he announced he will retire at the end of 2017, and he showed in the Masters – another tournament of short format games – that he can still mix it with the best over these shorter distances. Chizzy’s double troubles returned in MK, and he is one to avoid until his checkout success rate improves.
- James Wade Double Chance vs Kim Huybrechts
- Raymond van Barneveld vs Adrian Lewis: Over 10.5 Legs
- Phil Taylor to beat Dave Chisnall
- The Treble pays at 2.22/1