Just minutes after Rob Cross was crowned as the 2018 PDC World Darts Champion following his 7-2 victory over the retiring legend Phil Taylor, PDC Chairman Barry Hearn announced some sweeping changes to the line-up for this year’s Premier League Darts tournament. 16-weeks of top darts action across a host of top venues around the UK and Europe.
And if you are a fan of sports betting and darts, then this promises to be one of the biggest events of the year for you to enjoy.
PDC Premier League Darts Dates and Venues
The confirmed dates for the event are outlined below with many of the venues already sold out of tickets for the night in question:
- Night One – Feb 1st – 3 Arena in Dublin
- Night Two – Feb 8th – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
- Night Three – Feb 15th – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
- Night Four – Feb 22nd – Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin
- Night Five – Mar 1st – Westpoint Arena, Exeter
- Night Six – Mar 8th – First Direct Arena, Leeds
- Night Seven – Mar 15th – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
- Night Eight – Mar 22nd – SSE Hydro, Glasgow
- Night Nine – Mar 29th – SSE Arena, Belfast
- Night Ten – Apr 5th – Echo Arena, Liverpool
- Night Eleven – Apr 12th – FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield
- Night Twelve – Apr 19th – Ahoy, Rotterdam
- Night Thirteen – Apr 26th – The Manchester Arena
- Night Fourteen – May 3rd – Arena, Birmingham
- Night Fifteen – May 10th – The BHGE Arena, Aberdeen
- Play Offs – May 17th – The 02, London
New Faces for 2018
Ousted from the 2017 line up were the likes of Dave Chisnall, Adrian Lewis, Jelle Klaasen, James Wade and Kim Huybrechts, while the six-time winner of the event Phil Taylor has now retired and would no longer compete. That meant a sweeping change to the line-up which now consists of the following ten players (odds for each to win the event are shown from Coral Sports):
Michael Van Gerwen – 8/11 fav
Although Van Gerwen was hugely disappointed to lose out to Rob Cross in what was an epic World Darts Championship semi-final, the Dutchman remains the firm favourite to lift what would be his fourth Premier League Darts title and his third in a row. Van Gerwen’s dominance of the sport is likely to continue in 2018, but he faces a different challenge with Phil Taylor now retired and Rob Cross now elevated into the elite bracket. He’s a firm favourite to win this event though and given his record in the tournament over the past two years, it is hard to bet against him.
Rob Cross – 7/2
Rob Cross’s climb through the ranks from an Amateur on the 1st February 2017, to World Champion on 1st January 2018 is something that even the most fervent Hollywood producer would deem as to fanciful to be realistic. However, the former electrician has risen through the rankings at incredible speed to become the current World Champion. His rise is unprecedented in darts and he is one of the few players who can beat Van Gerwen, even if the Dutchman plays anything like his top game. Whether Cross can sustain his levels of performances against the best over 16 weeks will be one of the most interesting aspects of this Premier League season.
Gary Anderson – 11/2
In terms of pure natural ability, Anderson along with Rob Cross and perhaps Peter Wright is Van Gerwen’s nearest rival, but the Scottish ace doesn’t quite hit the heights with his performance as often as his Dutch rival. There’s no doubt that Gary Anderson, a two-time winner of the Premier League title and a two-time World Champion, has the ability to win this, but the question remains whether he can sustain a high level of play across four months of competition. At 11/2 though, I think Anderson is the value bet in this tournament this year.
Peter Wright – 8/1
A health scare prior to the World Championships didn’t do Peter Wright any favours in the build-up to the event and he duly succumbed to Jamie Lewis in one of the biggest upsets in the tournament. A few weeks extra recuperation may help Wright get back to his best physically although it will be interesting to see the toll 16 weeks of action takes on him and whether he can sustain his usually high level of performances. Wright’s consistency is his biggest weapon and if the Scot can add a killer instinct to his game and remains in good health, he could be a real challenger here.
Daryl Gurney – 40/1
After his stunning victory in Dublin in front of his home crowd at the 2017 World Grand Prix, Daryl Gurney has started to fulfil the vast potential he showed when he joined up with the PDC back in 2013. A much-improved 2017 season saw him not only claim a major title, but move up to fourth in the World Rankings. He didn’t quite match those performances at the World Championships where he lost to John Henderson, but he should provide some quality opposition in this year’s Premier League, his first time in the event, and he is a solid bet to reach the playoffs.
Mensur Suljovic – 40/1
After suffering an 11-1 thrashing at the hands of Michael van Gerwen in his first PDC Major Final in the 2016 European Championships, Mensur Suljovic knuckled down and came back strongly in 2017 to claim his first Major win, the Champions League of Darts where he beat Gary Anderson 11-9 in what was an exciting final. The Serbian-born Austrian national was a journeyman player for several years and it is only in recent times that the 45-year-old has hit the heights. Ranked a high of 5th in the world, he will be making his first appearance in the Premier League this season.
Raymond van Barneveld – 40/1
It was good to hear Raymond van Barneveld confirm he would be competing this year at the highest level of darts. On his day, van Barneveld has the raw talent to beat any player in the game and as a 5-time World Champion, he is one of the legends of the game. Hitting those heights consistently may be beyond Barney at times, but when he is on form, he is a danger to even the best players when they are playing at their best. Barney has suffered mixed results in the Premier League at times but he is a former winner having tasted victory in 2014.
Michael Smith – 66/1
“Bully” Michael Smith makes a return to the Premier League after a disappointing debut in the event back in 2016 where he failed to show his best form and was eliminated early from the competition. After a strong 2017, Smith has regained his place in this elite competition ahead of the likes of James Wade, Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall and it will be up to him to produce the form which saw him have darts to win his World Championship second round match with the eventual champion Rob Cross.
Gerwyn Price – 100/1
The former Neath rugby star famously switched sports and on the back of a much-improved 2017 on the circuit and a strong showing at the World Championships, Gerwyn Price has now earned a shot at the big boys in the Premier League. Rated as a 100/1 chance to win the event, Price will find he is tested on a weekly basis by the top players and while this year may be a learning curve for him, his game will improve markedly as a result.
Simon Whitlock – 200/1
The Wizard of Oz makes his return to the Premier League after a three-year absence. Previously Simon Whitlock has appeared in five successive Premier League campaigns from 2010 through to 2014 and he reached the final of the event once back in 2012 when he lost 10-7 to Phil Taylor over 19 legs. He is also joint record holder with Gary Anderson for the most 180s in a Premier League match with 11 in their game back in 2011. At his best, Whitlock would be a real threat and there are signs that the Wizard is starting to find that devastating form once again.
Ten top darts superstars and 16-weeks of action, it promises to be an exciting Premier League season for Darts fans with all the action taking place every Thursday night from the 1st February live on Sky Sports.