It’s that time of year again when the Premier league of Darts returns to our screens, and the action begins at Leeds on Thursday 4th February as the world’s best players go head-to-head in this unique tournament. Michael van Gerwen has topped the leaderboard for the last three years running and he’ll be looking to make it four in a row, but he’ll also be looking to take the title back from Gary Anderson after losing out on play-off night in 2015.
There’s even more incentive to win the league this time around with a further £25,000 added to the prize pot for the player who tops the leaderboard and leads the top four players into the final showdown. Dave Chisnall led the way for a long time last season and he was joined in the final four by Raymond van Barneveld, who staged a brilliant comeback from a seemingly impossible position. However it was Gary Anderson and MVG who rose to the summit, with the former claiming his first Premier League trophy by beating the world number one 11-7 in the final.
The 2015 competition was also notable for the absence of Phil Taylor in the final four for the first time in the tournament’s history, and the Power will be desperate to make amends this time around. The multiple world champion looked close to being back to his best form at last weekend’s Unibet Masters, and he could be a great value bet for another Premier League title in 2016.
Taylor Returning to Form
After well documented personal issues over the last year, it’s perhaps understandable that Taylor hasn’t performed at his mercurial best, but he has stated that those things are behind him now and showed a determined return to form with a new set of darts at the Unibet Masters. He averaged 102 and 104 in his defeats of Jelle Klaasen (10-6) and Peter Wright (10-9), although he was pushed all the way by the latter. The Power had seven match darts in his semi final against old foe Micheal van Gerwen, but was unable to take advantage and ultimately went down 11-10 in a thrilling match. However, he still posted and average of 103 in that game which is testament to his consistency with the new arrows, and prompted MVG to back a Phil Taylor revival, tipping his rival to win tournaments this year.
Premier League Odds
If you consider the fact that Phil Taylor made the last four in the first ten renewals of this competition, it’s no stretch to imagine him getting back there this year, and odds of +800 with BetVictor look decidedly tempting.
Michael van Gerwen is trading at a best price of +125 which is plenty short enough, while Gary Anderson is rated a +400 chance to retain his title.
Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
Raymond van Barneveld looked dead and buried at the midway point in last year’s Premier League season, but a remarkable run of victories saw him squeeze into the top four and seal his place in the play-off. More recently he reached the semi finals of the World Championship, where he was dumped out 6-3 by Adrian Lewis, although a first round defeat to Michael Smith in the Masters is less than he might of hoped for at that particular tournament.
These two have had a number of epic battles over the years, but it’s Phil Taylor that holds the edge, and if as anticipated the Power brings his ‘A’ game, we fancy him to get off to a winning start.
Robert Thornton v Dave Chisnall
Dave Chisnall was our lucrative each way tip for the Masters, and he duly obliged by reaching the final where he came up against the man he cant’ seem to beat, Michael van Gerwen. His ascent to the last two was still very profitable though, and he can return more money by beating Robert Thornton at +110 with Unibet
Robert Thornton and Michael Smith have replaced Stephen Bunting and Kim Huybrechts is this years line-up, and this is Thornton’s 4th appearance in the competition. His best ever finish has been 5th place in 2013, and he will have his work cut out to improve upon that to trouble the principles.
Chizzy beat Thornton 10-9 in the first round of the Masters last week, and there is no reason why he cant’ do the same again at a very reasonable price. After reaching the final of that tournament his confidence should be sky high, and as we keep saying, it is surely just a matter of time until he takes a televised title.
Peter Wright v Michael Smith
Peter Wright was our other each way tip for the Masters, but he came up against a resurgent Phil Taylor, going down 10-9 in the quarter final despite an average of over 104. He can also be backed at an appealing price to take care of Premier League debutante Michael Smith. +110 with Skybet, Coral and Paddy Power
Smith was the 2013 under-21 PDC World Champion, and has won six PDC Pro Tour competitions since then. He’s a young player with a big future, but this is stepping into the lion’s den and it will be a big learning curve. He made it past Raymond van Barneveld in last week’s Masters first round, but was overwhelmed by Michael van Gerwen 10-3 in the quarter final. He posted averages of 90 and 92 in those two games which is a long way short of Wright’s 100 and 104 achieved in his two games.
Wright has the experience and the gamplay to make this a baptism of fire for Michael Smith.
Phil Taylor to win the Premier League Title
Starts 4th February
Phil Taylor to beat Raymond van Barneveld
Thursday 4th February, 21:00 GMT
Dave Chisnall to beat Robert Thornton
Thursday 4th February, 22:30 GMT
Peter Wright to beat Michael Smith
Thursday 4th February, 19:20 GMT
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