Unibet Home Tour 29: Reyes Claims Thriller!

Cristo Reyes claimed a hat-trick of wins to top Group 29 of the Unibet Home Tour on Friday night.

Danny Noppert was unable to arrest Reyes as the spainiard claimed one of the closest fought groups so far. ( Pic PDC)

Reyes, who joins Jesus Noguera as the second Spanish player to win a Home Tour group, began the night with a 5-4 defeat of popular Scot John Henderson.

In one of the closest groups so far on the Home Tour, Reyes came out on top of another match to go the distance as he edged out Ryan Meikle 5-4.

Heading into the final game of the night, Dutchman Danny Noppert and Henderson both still harboured chances of topping the group, but Reyes sealed the group with a 5-2 win against Noppert. 

The Unibet Home Tour continues on Saturday night with Group 30, which will see two-time World Champion Gary Anderson make his highly-anticipated Home Tour debut.

Unibet Home Tour 
Group 29 – Friday May 15
Danny Noppert 5-2 Ryan Meikle
Cristo Reyes 5-4 John Henderson
Cristo Reyes 5-4 Ryan Meikle
John Henderson 5-4 Danny Noppert
John Henderson 5-0 Ryan Meikle
Cristo Reyes 5-2 Danny Noppert

Unibet Home Tour 17: Heta Claims Top Spot.

Damon Heta won Group 17 of the Unibet Home Tour on Sunday night, topping the group on leg-difference ahead of John Henderson and Krzysztof Kciuk.

John Henderson was the group’s highest ranked player, and the popular Scot just about got off to a winning start as he defeated Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk 5-4 in the night’s opening game.

Despite playing through the night in Australia, Heta showed he was wide awake with a 5-0 whitewash of Gary Blades, before overcoming Henderson 5-3 in what proved to be a pivotal match.

Though Kciuk made it back-to-back victories with a 5-3 win over Heta in the penultimate game of the evening, it wasn’t enough to stop Brisbane Darts Master Heta from ending the night on top.

The Unibet Home Tour continues on Mondau night with Group 18, which will see PDC ranking event winner and former Premier League stars Stephen Bunting and Kim Huybrechts in action.

Unibet Home Tour 
Group 17 – Sunday May 3
John Henderson 5-4 Krzysztof Kciuk
Damon Heta 5-0 Gary Blades
Krzysztof Kciuk 5-3 Gary Blades
Damon Heta 5-3 John Henderson
Krzysztof Kciuk 5-3 Damon Heta
John Henderson 5-1 Gary Blades


Unibet Home Tour: More Fixtures Announced!

Premier League table-topper Glen Durrant will make his Unibet Home Tour bow next week, with the line-ups and fixtures confirmed for Groups 17-20.

Durrant, a three-time Lakeside Champion, will headline Tuesday’s Group 19 action, while Joe Cullen, Stephen Bunting, Jeffrey de Zwaan and John Henderson are also set to feature as the home-broadcast event continues.
 
Sunday will see the 17th of 32 consecutive nights of live darts take place, as popular Scot Henderson takes on Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk in the opening game of Group 17, which will also see Australia’s Damon Heta – in the middle of the night in Perth – and fellow 2020 PDC Tour Card winner Gary Blades in action.

Former Premier League stars Bunting and Kim Huybrechts will compete in Monday’s Group 18, along with Austria’s Harald Leitinger and Norfolk’s Nathan Derry.

Durrant will meet Vincent van der Meer in the opening game of Group 19 on Tuesday, before former World Grand Prix semi-finalist Justin Pipe and Van der Meer’s fellow Dutchman Maik Kuivenhoven enter the live broadcast.

Wednesday’s mouth-watering Group 20 line-up will feature multiple ranking event winners Joe Cullen and Jeffrey de Zwaan along with emerging Scottish talent Ryan Murray, while experienced John Michael will dial in from Greece.

The nightly league format will see all four competitors play each other once in matches played over the best of nine legs, with a winner crowned each night.

With the Unibet Home Tour now approaching the half-way mark, the past week has seen Germany’s Max Hopp and two-time TV semi-finalist Chris Dobey join the list of group winners.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung and his dog Bauble stole the show during Wednesday’s Group 14, staying up beyond 5am local time to take part.

Each night’s action will commence at 1930 BST, with darts commentator Dan Dawson on hand to talk through proceedings, which will also include live score graphics on screen.

All Unibet Home Tour action will be broadcast live on PDCTV for FREE to ALLregistered PDCTV users, regardless of whether you have a paid or free membership.

Registered PDCTV members can also watch for FREE through the official PDC App.

Fans in Great Britain and Ireland can also watch the action through the Sky Sports app.

As well as being shown through a series of bookmakers’ websites, the Unibet Home Tour is being broadcast live by a number of the PDC’s international broadcast partners.

Unibet Home Tour
Group 17 Fixtures
Sunday May 3

John Henderson v Krzysztof Kciuk
Damon Heta v Gary Blades
Krzysztof Kciuk v Gary Blades
John Henderson v Damon Heta
Damon Heta v Krzysztof Kciuk
Gary Blades v John Henderson

Group 18 Fixtures
Monday May 4

Stephen Bunting v Harald Leitinger
Kim Huybrechts v Nathan Derry
Harald Leitinger v Nathan Derry
Stephen Bunting v Kim Huybrechts
Kim Huybrechts v Harald Leitinger
Nathan Derry v Stephen Bunting

Group 19 Fixtures
Tuesday May 5

Glen Durrant v Vincent van der Meer
Justin Pipe v Maik Kuivenhoven
Vincent van der Meer v Maik Kuivenhoven
Glen Durrant v Justin Pipe
Justin Pipe v Vincent van der Meer
Maik Kuivenhoven v Glen Durrant

Group 20 Fixtures
Wednesday May 6

Joe Cullen v Ryan Murray
Jeffrey de Zwaan v John Michael
Ryan Murray v John Michael
Joe Cullen v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Jeffrey de Zwaan v Ryan Murray
John Michael v Joe Cullen

Tournament Rules
* All matches are the best of nine legs.
* The player listed on the left of the fixture will throw first in odd-numbered legs.
* Two Points awarded for a win.
* Should players finish level on Points, the Leg Difference will be used to decide positions. Should Points and Leg Difference be equal between two players, then the winner of the game between the two players will determine who finishes higher. Should Points and Leg Difference be equal between three players, the Overall Average of each player (across the three games on the night) will be used to determine who finishes higher.

Hendo Answers Our 9-Dart Questions.

Darts World thought that some players may have a few extras minutes on their hands, can’t think why, so we asked them 9 questions that our readers may enjoy. The first to take on the 9-Dart Questions was Red Dragon’s John Henderson:

We caught up with the Highlander John Henderson during the current lockdown to ask him some intriguing questions and learn more about the Scottish rocker.

  1. Where did you get your darting nickname and is there a tale to tell?

I got the nickname for obvious reasons as I’m from the highlands and Sky Sports told me that “Hendo” wasn’t as strong a name so we came up with “The Highlander”.

  1. When did you hit your first 9-Dart leg and what was it like?

I hit my first 9 darter on the practice board at home and being excited was an understatement, as I left the 141 in the board for days!

My first in competition was against Andy Hamilton at my 3rd pro tour in Derby 2011.

  1. Do you have any habits or routines before a (big) match?

Not got any set in stone habits or routines to be honest, but before a big TV event I like to be at the venue 4 hours before my game so I can calmly prepare.

  1. What is your favourite career moment so far?

Winning the British Open was superb, as was getting my first cap for Scotland. However, the hugest spine chilling adrenaline hit I got was playing in the Premier League in Aberdeen against MVG. The walk on I will never ever forget it still makes me shudder let alone getting a 6 – 6 draw – that was the icing on the cake.

  1. Do you have an unfulfilled ambition in darts?

Ambitions would obviously be to win the World Championship but really just to stay injury free, play well and climb those rankings. I believe I can do it so hopefully in the next few years I will continue making my move.

  1. What is your favourite event or venue?

My favourite event is the event I do best in and would be the World Grand Prix in Dublin. I’ve have had many good runs at that and the format suits me as I’m quite handy at double top, as you need to start off with a double. Favourite venue is the Ally Pally as I get Goosebumps when you go up the hill and you see the huge palace, it’s such a great place to finish off the season.

  1. Who do you enjoy playing the most and why?

I love/hate playing the man MVG as he brings the best out in my game, but you just know how good he’s going to be!

  1. Who were the key influences in your darting life/career?

Bob Taylor was a big influence on my darts as it was him that pushed me to take my game further from pub level to county level.

Jason Thame and Gordon Morison were then 2 guys that backed me and helped me believe I could go from the BDO to PDC.

  1. Which player did /do you most enjoy watching?

As a kid I loved watching Lakeside on the BBC and it’s no surprise I loved watching Jocky Wilson and Bob Taylor, both Scottish giants of the game.

Thanks Hendo!


Keep an eye out for more of darts biggest names as they take on Darts World’s:

9-Dart Questions!

Scottish Legends – How Would You Rank Them?

From darts’ earliest day’s many of its best players, and one-off personalities, originated in Scotland. As in other sports, including cycling, snooker and football, the Scots have produced fiercely determined, gritty champions with a dash of flair. But how would you rate the biggest of these tartan titans?

Could anyone leave out Rab?

Is Peter Wright in the top half dozen, does his World title move him into contention? Despite a lack of major titles is Rab Smith a contender on contribution alone? Will Rob Thornton make the list despite not being a World Champion? Could a popular player such as Hendo sneak in?

In this week’s ‘Six of the Best’ Darts World and James Lincoln produce a feature that both ranks the order of the darting thistle and paints a picture of these Scots ‘Legends of the Oche’.

See if you agree with their choices here: Six of the Scottish best!

Disagree? Comment below or @Darts_World


Unibet Premier League Odds – Night One & Overall Winner!

The Unibet Premier League is soon to restart and the event sponsors are offering a wide selection of odds both for the opening night in Aberdeen and for the event overall.

2020 Unibet Premier League: The Field!PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG

Our contributor JR Lott has a good record of spotting value in these events, so we asked him what looked a decent shout?

PETER WRIGHT
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG

JR: The Premier League is a strange betting event, effectively you are betting on two or three separate things at any one time. First of all your player overall picks must survive to judgement night so its like an each way bet. Then they need to be able to actually carry off one of the biggest prizes against very in form competition. Lastly, you may also have been betting on individual games or combinations. Single games are different and have factors such as head to head records or local crowds etc.

DW: So what stands out for you JR?

JR: There is rarely superb value in darts, But these odds from Unibet have one or two stand-outs. Hendo at home at 2.5-1 looks a decent value hit for night one and overall I like the look of 8-1 on Gary Anderson. Gary will get time to play himself fit here and is already showing signs of a return to his best.

PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG GLEN DURRANT IN ACTION

Lastly, as an outsider, I would be tempted by an each way bet on Glen Durrant. 28-1 for a three time world champion who has already shown what he can do on the biggest stages?

Unibet Premier League
Night One Match Odds
Michael Smith 27/20– Draw 11/4– Glen Durrant 13/8
Gary Anderson 11/10– Draw 16/5– Daryl Gurney 37/20
Michael van Gerwen Evens– Draw 33/10– Peter Wright 2/1
Nathan Aspinall 4/5– Draw 10/3– John Henderson 5/2
Gerwyn Price Evens– Draw 3/1– Rob Cross 43/20

Unibet Premier League Outright Odds
Michael van Gerwen 9/10
Peter Wright 9/2
Gerwyn Price 6/1
Gary Anderson 8/1
Rob Cross 12/1
Nathan Aspinall 14/1
Michael Smith 14/1
Glen Durrant 28/1
Daryl Gurney 28/1
EW 1/3 1-2

Odds courtesy unibet.co.uk and correct at time of publication.

2020 Unibet Premier League – Opening Night Preview.

The 2020 Unibet Premier League gets underway on Thursday in Aberdeen, as Peter Wright makes his homecoming on what promises to be a special night for Scottish darts with Gary Anderson and John Henderson also returning to the big stage.

Can Hendo better last year’s performance in front of his home crowd. (Pic PDC)

The Premier League roadshow will see nine of the world’s biggest stars go head-to-head across 17 nights of action, kicking off at the new P&J Live venue in front of 7,000 fans.

A highly-anticipated opening night will see newly-crowned World Champion Wright joined by fellow-Scottish stars Anderson, who will make his Premier League return, and Henderson, the first of nine Challengers.

Wright claimed World Championship glory on New Year’s Day at Alexandra Palace as he sensationally defeated Van Gerwen 7-3 to claim the Sid Waddell Trophy and take his mantle as World Champion.

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG ; PETER WRIGHT AND MICHAEL VAN GERWEN

The pair will renew rivalries on Wright’s home soil as the Scot eyes his maiden Premier League title to banish the demons from the infamous 2017 final which saw him miss six match darts for the title.

“The World Championship is won, that’s off the list, now I want to finally get my hands on that Premier League title,” said Wright, who won his first Masters title on Sunday.
 
“I would say the 2017 Premier League final is probably the most painful defeat I’ve suffered, but by the next day I’d got it out of my head by winning a floor tournament and hitting a nine-darter.
 
“You can’t do anything about the past, you have to look to the future and I think that’s my biggest strength which, ultimately, is what led to me lifting the World title.
 
“You’ve just got to learn how to forget things. Once you’ve released your three darts you can’t take them back out the board and have another go, you’ve just got to make sure your next turn is better.

“Thursday will be an amazing night for Scottish darts with Gary making his comeback and John is a huge crowd favourite.

“Scottish darts is in a great place at the moment and to showcase that on the opening Premier League night will be really special.”

The Field: BACK ROW (L-R) GLEN DURRANT, MICHAEL SMITH,DARYL GURNEY,GARY ANDERSON FRONT ROW(L-R) NATHAN ASPINALL,PETER WRIGHT,MICHAEL VAN GERWEN,ROB CROSS, GERWYN PRICE. (PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG)

World number one Van Gerwen will be seeking immediate revenge for his World Championship defeat as the Dutchman opens his challenge to win an unprecedented fifth successive Premier League title.

Van Gerwen has dominated the competition since his debut in 2013, winning the league phase every year; a record he is determined to continue into 2020.

“I love to perform on the biggest stages and the Premier League is the perfect tournament for that, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Van Gerwen.

“I have performed very well in the tournament over the years and if I keep my focus each week then I will continue that this year.

“You have to perform every single week and if you don’t you will lose because you are playing the best of the best. I see every game as a final, that’s how you need to approach it.

“Of course it was a disappointment to lose the World Championship final, but you have to look forward and that starts this Thursday against Peter.”

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG ROUND ANDERSON IN ACTION

2011 and 2015 Premier League Champion Anderson will make his Premier League return against Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney, with the Scot having missed last year’s campaign due to a back injury.

The two-time World Champion is firmly established as a Scottish sporting hero but the 49-year-old insists he still has the hunger for more titles.

“It will be great to be back in the Premier League, I must admit I’m looking forward to it,” said Anderson.

“Last year there was no way I could’ve played with the state of my back, but I did enjoy spending 16 weeks with my family.

“This year will be about finding the perfect balance between spending time at home and playing, hopefully we will find that balance.

“To me it’s not all about winning, I just want ‘my game’ back; I want to play free-flowing like I used to without pain, and if I can do that then I’ll be a happy man.

“It will be great to play in the magnificent new arena in Aberdeen, I’m already very impressed with it so to see it full will be quite a sight.”

Local hero Henderson famously lit up the old Aberdeen venue in 2019 with a spine-tingling walk-on followed by a thrilling 6-6 draw with Van Gerwen.

This year he will face UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall, who will be competing in his first full Premier League campaign, with over 7,000 fans set to pack the state-of-the-art venue.

“If Thursday night is even half as good as last year I will be delighted,” Henderson revealed.

“Last year goes down as one of the best and most emotional nights of my life, so to have the chance to do it all over again is amazing.

“Because I got a draw with Michael last year some people will think I will beat Nathan, but I know how good Nathan is and it will be a really tough game.

“I’ll give it my all and hopefully I can create some memories in front of what will be another incredible crowd.”

The opening night will also see newcomer Glen Durrant play 2018 runner-up Michael Smith, while two-time Grand Slam Champion Gerwyn Price takes on last year’s runner-up Rob Cross.

The first nine nights of action will see a different Challenger in action, culminating in Judgement Night in Rotterdam on March 26 where the ninth-placed player will be eliminated.

Following Judgement Night, the remaining eight players meet once more in the remaining seven league nights in Belfast, Sheffield, Manchester, Berlin, Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds.

The top four players then progress to face off for the title, and a £250,000 top prize, in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 21.

The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.

Any remaining tickets are available to purchase through ticketmaster.co.uk

2020 Unibet Premier League Night One
Thursday February 6
Aberdeen, P&J Live
Michael Smith v Glen Durrant
Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
Nathan Aspinall v John Henderson
Gerwyn Price v Rob Cross

Prize Fund
Winner £250,000
Runner-up £120,000
Semi-finalists £80,000
Fifth place£70,000
Sixth place £60,000
Seventh place £55,000
Eighth place £50,000
Ninth place £35,000
League winner bonus £25,000
Total £825,000

Red Dragon Claim Unique World Champion Treble.

Welsh darting brand Red Dragon have a lot to shout about already. Major champions, innovative models and a solid reputation for service and value. Yesterday they moved to a new level. We pestered Red Dragon’s Simon Hall for his thoughts before the final took place:

With World Titles meaning so much to every player, and those behind them, the chance of three in one year is nothing short of breathtaking

Simon Hall – Red Dragon
Red Dragon’s World Champion.
PIC; PDC – PETER WRIGHT IN ACTION

With the crowning of Peter Wright, earlier this month, RD put the cherry on a long baked cake. Over the past decade they have developed a model and put together a group of players that rival anything seen previously. It results in World Champions!

Can Wayne Warren make it a rare double for the Welsh brand?

Wayne Warren lifting the BDO World Professional Championship gives the Bridgend based company a unique trio of World Champions. With Snakebite already holding the PDC crown and Luke Humphries capturing the World Youth title (PDC) it’s been a bumper few weeks. It may also make all the difference in the annual manufacturer rankings!

The RD model is not overly complex. The select their players carefully, work with them closely and stick with them for the long run.

A Celtic Flavour?

Success begins at home? – RD have a very good base of Welsh talent, but with Scots and more added!

In addition, to Warren, Red Dragon have Gerwyn Price, Johnny Clayton, Jamie Lewis and Barrie Bates all from their home pricipality of Wales. In addition, they boast a clutch of Scotsmen lead by Robert Thornton and backed up by John Henderson and Ross Montgomery. previous players include former world champ Richie Burnett. If you know sport you will understand that the Celtic passions work well in harness with sporting talent.

Multi Generational

Jamie Lewis
Jamie Lewis seems to have spent his whole life under the wing of RD?

Like all manufacturers RD have been keen to find and nuture young talent, they were the first sponsor for Adam Smith Neale, backed Richard North and have supported Jamie Lewis through thick and thin. But RD are not in thrall to youth. During the last decade they took considered risks on older, seasoned player who were coming on strong. Mark Hylton, Ian White and indeed, Wayne Warren were all in there forties or older when they were first signed up.

Back Your Decision

Those who make the decisions at RD seem to stick with them and are not afraid to throw the rule book out of the window if it may help a player or kick start a relationship. The Peter Wright story, and ever changing equipment, might have driven some companies over the edge. Instead Red Dragon have invented a totally new model for Peter and his sponsorship.

PDC UNICORN WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL- LUKE HUMPHRIES WINS

John Henderson has had ups and down as well as injury, Gerwyn Price has had much publicised disciplinary issues and Luke Humphries has well documented mental health concerns. Yet all are still with RD and have had multiple deals often renewed during tough times as well as good. This approach seems to allow players time and space to flourish at their own pace or to adapt to new circumstances.

Choose Wisely.

Initial signing decisions are a combination of analysis, external reports, observation and consultation. There is no fixed recipe for pursuing, or signing, a player but a number of differing factors can influence a decision. A good network of informative and reliable sources, very good data and carefully honed instincts all play a part.

Patience.

RD are not the sort who sign a player as soon as he/she does anything of note and then reject them if they don’t hit that high spot again instantly. Instead they take advice and are prepared to move earlier at times and be more long term in their thinking. This has occasionally seen them miss out rather than make an error.

A good example is David Evans. ‘Stretch‘ is a fine player with huge potential. Several of RD sources pointed him out a while ago. Yet, other sources recommended a step by step approach as that thought he needed time to develop and adapt. The last twelve months, and his recent World Championship efforts, suggests that they were correct.

Red Dragon’s collection of a threesome of World Champions means they have reaped the rewards of a program, and a belief, that dates back well over a decade. It would be a wise move to keep an eye on their future signings and those already on their books.

We’re so lucky to have these great players out there fighting to win & carrying the Red Dragon Name

Simon Hall of Red Dragon Darts

More than just luck Simon! In the meantime congratulations are in order! Well done indeed.

Challengers Announced – PDC Premier League Field Completed.

The nine Challengers who will feature in the opening nine nights of the 2020 Unibet Premier League have been confirmed.

DOBEY WILL JOIN FALLON SHERROCVK AS A ‘CHALLENGER’ IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE 2020
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG FALLON SHERROCK and CHRIS DOBEY IN ACTION

In a return to last year’s popular format, nine players will compete under the re-branded ‘Challengers‘ banner, with John Henderson and Fallon Sherrock already confirmed as guest players for the opening two nights.

Scottish crowd favourite Henderson is set to get the campaign off to a bang at the new P&J Live in Aberdeen, before history-maker Sherrock becomes the first woman to star in the Premier League in Nottingham.

Johnny Clayton will be at home in Cardiff.
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG

The Premier League roadshow then rolls on to Cardiff and Dublin where Welsh number two Jonny Clayton and Irish World Cup runner-up William O’Connor will make their Premier League debuts respectively.
 
World Youth Champion Luke Humphries will feature in Exeter, while Merseyside man Stephen Bunting will make his Premier League comeback in Liverpool.
 
Two-time televised semi-finalist Chris Dobey will hope to enjoy another memorable night in Newcastle, before Dutch duo Jeffrey de Zwaan and Jermaine Wattimena entertain the sea of orange in Rotterdam.
 
Points won by Challengers will not count towards the league table, however their opponents will retain any points gained from the matches. Challengers will receive financial bonuses for winning or drawing their matches.
 
Following the opening nine nights of fixtures, the player placed ninth on the Premier League table following Judgement Night in Rotterdam on March 26 will be eliminated from the competition.

The Magpie will be on home turf in Dublin.
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG
WILLIAM O’CONNOR IN ACTION

The remaining eight players will then battle it out from Nights Ten to 16 in the race to win places in the Play-Offs at The O2 on Thursday May 21, with newly-crowned World Champion Peter Wright and world number one Michael van Gerwen among the regular nine players.
 
Fans in Belfast and Glasgow will also have the chance to welcome home local heroes in Daryl Gurney, Gary Anderson and Wright, while Gerwyn Price will entertain a passionate Welsh crowd in Cardiff.
 
Nathan Aspinall and Glen Durrant are the new additions to the Premier League line-up in 2020, while former finalists Rob Cross and Michael Smith are among the returning stars.

The 2020 Unibet Premier League will be played from February 6 – May 21 2020 at venues across Europe.

The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.

2020 Unibet Premier League field
Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross
Michael Smith
Gary Anderson
Daryl Gurney
Nathan Aspinall
Glen Durrant

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG
JERMAINE WATTIMENA – ADDS TO THE DUTCH CONTINGENT FOR ROTTERDAM!

2020 Unibet Premier League Challengers
John Henderson (Aberdeen, Night One)
Fallon Sherrock (Nottingham, Night Two)
Jonny Clayton (Cardiff, Night Three)
William O’Connor (Dublin, Night Four)
Luke Humphries (Exeter, Night Five)
Stephen Bunting (Liverpool, Night Six)
Chris Dobey (Newcastle, Night Seven)
Jeffrey de Zwaan (Rotterdam, Night Eight)
Jermaine Wattimena (Rotterdam, Night Nine)

ENDS

Challengers Challenge! Pick Who Should Face the Premier League Field?

We are at that magical time of year again, a new PDC World Darts Champion has been crowned, many congratulations to Peter Wright, a deserving and popular winner. The Premier League players have also been announced and again this year they will be joined by Nine Challengers.

PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG
FALLON SHERROCK HAS ALREADY CLAIMED ONE OF THE CHALLENGER SLOTS. WHO WILL JOIN HER & JOHN HENDERSON?

The first two of these players are John Henderson who will star on the opening night in Aberdeen and the new Queen of The Alexandra Palace Fallon Sherrock who has been rewarded for her outstanding victories and performances at ‘The Ally Pally.


So here’s the challenge, who else will be given the opportunity to showcase their talents on the Premier League stage. Pick seven player and one ‘popular choice’ and leave them in the comments or via our social media channels. A prize and bragging rights to whoever gets closest!


I’m going to throw my seven players out there who I think have a chance and more importantly deserve the opportunity, plus one more who could well be a popular addition.

The Adonis for a Challenger spot? Richly deserved.
PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG STEVE BEATON IN ACTION


Let’s start with the ‘Popular Choice’ or ‘Housewives Choice’ ! Wouldn’t it be something to see the legend, the Bronzed Adonis himself,  Mr Steve Beaton be rewarded for his sheer longevity and dedication to the sport  at the highest level, 29 consecutive World Championship appearances and still World Ranked in the top 32 of the PDC rankings. I’m pretty sure Steve would love that one time Premier League Walk-On.


So who will be the other Challengers, it’s certainly a difficult ask to predict all seven selections. I’m not a believer in just picking a ‘Home’ player like a Welsh player for the Cardiff week of the League. If they are ‘Challengers’ then let them do just that at whatever venue. The PDC however take a different view and are likely to give some places partly based on this.


I would certainly throw Luke Humphries in there, another Quarter Final reached at the World Championships and the current World Youth Champion. I think with Fallon already selected you have to go with Mikuru Suzuki too, the Ladies BDO World Champion who was within 36 points of winning her opening World Championship match against James Richardson at The Ally Pally.Third pick would be Chris Dobey, he’s certainly moving swiftly up the rankings and has achieved notable placings in PDC majors and again at the 2020 World Championship.

Premier League crowds love a good Walk-On and there’s none better than YMCA !! My Fourth challenger would be Rapid Ricky Evans. Again he’s produced on the biggest stages at home and at the Euro Tour events and is a joy to watch in full flow even though you could miss it if you blink.

KRYSZTOF RATAJSKI
Pic: Christopher Dean / Scantech Media 07930 364436 www.scantechmedia.com


Without question Krzysztof Ratajski deserves to be my fifth selection, he’s lifted five PDC Tour titles already and the former Winmau World Master is a threat to anyone on his day and he would most certainly fit the criteria of a ‘Challenger’. Jeffrey de Zwaan would be my next pick. He’s beaten Michael Van Gerwen in a ‘Major’ TV event and has backed that result up in the last 12 months and is a player the ‘Top Guys’ will not relish facing.


My final challenger would be Jermaine Wattimena. A Quarter Finalist at the World Grand and back to back last 16 spots at the UK Open show this likeable Dutchman is moving in the right direction and sits at a career high 23 in the PDC World Rankings. I’m sure to walk on in front of a sell out Rotterdam crowd in the Premier League to possibly face Michael Van Gerwen would be an occasion he wouldn’t forget but also would rise to!

So there we have it, that would be my list of ‘Challengers’. I believe players outside of the top 16 should be classed as Challengers and it gives fans and followers alike the opportunity to see different up and coming players playing at the highest level against the ‘Top Nine’ players. Only time will tell who actually gets the nod, one thing is for sure though, it’s going to be something special. As World Champion Peter Wright would say ‘Let’s Get This Party Started’.

Andy’s 8: Luke Humphries, Mikuru Suzuki, Chris Dobey, Ricky Evans, Krzysztof Ratajski, Jeffrey De Zwaan and Jermaine Wattimena with Steve Beaton as his wildcard choice.

The Wizard’s Picks: W1—Hendo W2— Sherrock, W3—Jonny Clayton, W4—Willy O Conner, W5—Luke Humphries
W6—Joe Cullen, W7—Dobey, W8—De zwann , W9—Dimi Van den Berg. Wildcard : Barney in Rotterdam!

AIM: Ian White, Krystztof Ratajaski, Seigo Asada, Max Hopp, Ricky Evans, Gabriel Clemens, Josh Payne. Wildcard: Ted Hankey!

Jacco Krook: L Humphries, Ricky Evans, Chris Dobey, Ratajaski, De Zwaan, O’Conner (Dublin), Wattinena (Rotterdam). Wildcard; Jose De Sousa.

Can you do better? Leave your 7+1 in the comments or send them via

  • @Darts_World on twitter
  • Darts World Magazine (facebook)
  • editorial.team@dartsworld.com

Andrew Devonshire is a DartsWorld contributor and popular darts and sports writer who has contributed to many publications. Follow him on twitter @A_Devonshire180