In May, Darts World launched its special ‘Lockdown Archive’ also known as ‘Darts World Freemium‘. The archive was set up to help entertain darts fans during these tough times.
Back in April 2018 Gary Anderson featured on our cover. Gary and Michael Smith also gave an interview for the magazine, John Gwynne offered his thoughts on ‘darting around’ Australia and Rob Cross’s (Target) darts were reviewed.
With Gary reaching the final of the PDC Home Tour last night we thought fans might enjoy a look back at his previous success. There are more than 50 issues available, free of charge, by simply clicking here.
Whatever your darting interest, there’ll be something for you!
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Martijn Kleermaker won Group Nine of the Unibet Home Tour by a single leg, as the home-staged tournament continued on Saturday night.
Kleermaker, who won his PDC Tour Card for the first time in January, began the night with a comeback win against Michael Smith, recovering from 3-0 down to claim a 5-3 victory.
However, the Dutchman went down 5-3 to Matt Clark in his second game of the night, and heading into the final game of the night Clark knew he only needed to win four legs against Smith to top the group.
Clark agonisingly missed a dart at double to win a fourth leg of the contest, but Smith punished to claim a 5-3 win which meant Kleermaker ended the night on top of the group by a single leg.
The Unibet Home Tour continues on Sunday night with Group Ten, which will see Premier League star Nathan Aspinall in action, along with Ryan Joyce, Simon Stevenson and Steve Brown.
Unibet Home Tour Group Nine – Saturday April 25 Martijn Kleermaker 5-3 Michael Smith Matt Clark 5-3 Harry Ward Matt Clark 5-3 Martijn Kleermaker Michael Smith 5-3 Harry Ward Martijn Kleermaker 5-2 Harry Ward Michael Smith 5-3 Matt Clark
Group Ten – Sunday April 26 (1930 BST) Nathan Aspinall v Steve Brown Ryan Joyce v Simon Stevenson Steve Brown v Simon Stevenson Nathan Aspinall v Ryan Joyce Ryan Joyce v Steve Brown Simon Stevenson v Nathan Aspinall
Ahead of the top of the table Premier League clash between Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen next Thursday, Darts World have created a quiz around the young Englishman.
2018 has been the start of a renaissance for Smith, losing to the eventual winner in one of the best games of the World Championship and only being displaced at the top of the Premier League by leg difference.
Now with him destined to reach the pinnacle of darts what better way to celebrate than testing how much you know about ‘Bully Boy’.
The quiz is powered by Sporcle and forged by Ross Deakin for Darts World.
There are 15 questions in total and you have 7 minutes to answer them all, each question has 4 answers so if you are unsure on one then at least you still have a 25% chance of getting it right!
If you are ready, then click the play button below and enter your answers in the box provided.
How did it go? Did you get as many correct as you thought you would? Contact us on Twitter and Facebook to let us know how you did and how you compare to others.
Without revealing too much about Michael Smith and ruining the quiz, here is a bit of background about him.
Smith was born on the 18th September 1990 in England and began playing darts in his teenage years to avoid boredom. He hit first ever 180 came whilst on crutches!
After dropping out of a college course to pursue darts, Smith made his first PDC debut at the UK Open in 2009.
Since then, he has reached the quarter-finals or better of various majors and as his age has matured so has his game.
Smith’s first experience of the Premier League is something he does not think too fondly of after only winning one game. However, this year Smith had already surpassed his previous points tally by week 2.
Smith will be hoping to continue his great form into the upcoming majors.
So, if you want to learn even more about Smith, try playing our quiz.
Michael Smith made it four wins out of four on Night Four as the Premier League visited Germany for the first time in front of a PDC record 12,500 strong crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.
Elsewhere, reigning Premier League Champion Michael van Gerwen demolished Daryl Gurney by seven legs to two while Rob Cross continued his Premier League resurgence with victory over Raymond van Barneveld.
Michael Smith 7-3 Simon Whitlock
In the evening’s opening contest, ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith maintained his 100% start to the campaign as he defeated Simon Whitlock in a meeting of the early pace setters.
Despite taking the opening leg, ‘The Wizard’ soon found himself being comprehensively outscored as Smith rattled off four straight legs, including hitting a brilliant 106 checkout, to take a 4-1 lead.
Australian Whitlock bounced back with two legs as ‘Bully Boy’s’ form dropped off however the St Helen’s man soon regained his composure to seal an impressive 7-3 victory and put himself at the top of the standings in doing so.
Gerwyn Price 3-7 Mensur Suljovic
Mensur Suljovic finally registered his first victory of the campaign with a dominant display over Gerwyn Price, with ‘The Iceman’ himself still searching for his first win in the 2018 Premier League.
With an average of 106.20 and 60 per cent on the doubles Austrian Suljovic, roared on by the German crowd, took five out of the opening six legs in a dominate display.
Having rescued draws in two of his opening three matches after being 5-1 down, Welshman Price threatened another miracle save with back-to-back legs.
Suljovic, though, was always the far better of the two and he duly took a deserved victory with tops in the tenth leg.
Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Daryl Gurney
‘Mighty Mike’ made light work of Daryl Gurney with a strong performance, averaging 103.40, to keep pace with Michael Smith at the top of the standings.
Coming into the match, ‘SuperChin’ had registered the most 180s (14) in the tournament while also possessing the worst doubling percentage of the field. His match against MvG continued this trend of the Northern Irishman’s troubles at the double.
Where Gurney had a few chances, he failed to take them while van Gerwen’s trademark quick start ensured he was off into the distance after only four legs.
While Gurney’s doubling paled in comparison to MvG’s 44 per cent checkout rate, the Northern Irishman also failed to cope with ‘Mighty Mike’s’ incredible scoring power.
Rob Cross 7-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Rob Cross continued his resurgence in form with a topsy-turvy win over an out-of-sorts Raymond van Barneveld.
The opening six legs of the match were shared between the two in topsy-turvy fashion before Cross was able to accelerate away from ‘Barney’, a crucial 56 checkout proving a decisive turning point in the match in leg eight.
To complete the victory, ‘Voltage’ hit a brilliant 128 checkout on double ten moving the World Champion firmly into contention for the play-off places.
Peter Wright 6-6 Gary Anderson
The Berlin crowd, a little subdued through the historic night, were treated to a wonderful contest, with the best saved for last, as Peter Wright and Gary Anderson shared the spoils.
‘Snakebite’, throwing noticeably much quicker, struggled in the opening two legs as he missed six darts at double in falling 2-0 behind to Anderson.
Things changed dramatically however, as Wright took six legs out of seven to take a 6-3 lead with ‘Snakebite’ dominating in the power scoring stakes.
The match was to be far from over, though, as ‘The Flying Scotsman’ responded with three superb legs in a row to ensure himself a point from the trip to Germany.
Nerveless finishes of 69, 83 and 86 brought a sensational match, where both averaged 105 and nine 180s were hit cumulatively, to a close and prevented Wright from gaining his second win of the tournament.
The biggest names in darts begin their quest for Premier League glory on Thursday as the new-look 2018 edition kicks off in Dublin ahead of 16 weeks of gruelling competition which culminates in Play-Off night at the O2 Arena in London on May 17.
After analysing the chances of the main contenders to the crown, what of the rest of the field? Debutants, former world champions and previous Premier League stars make up a strong but fresh line-up, where every man will fancy their chances of making the top four and earning a place at the Play-Offs.
The Dark Horses
World Ranking: 5
Premier League Best: N/A (2018 debutant)
2017 Premier League Result: N/A
One of four debutants, Gurney will be hoping to make a major impression in his first Premier League campaign after a 2017 in which the Northern Irishman put himself amongst the world’s best.
In his best season to date, ‘Superchin’ won his first Pro Tour event alongside his first TV major at the World Grand Prix in October, making Gurney the first Northern Irishman to win a televised title.
Not known to shy away from a confrontation, and after several run-ins with the likes of Phil Taylor in 2017, Gurney will no doubt add spice to the roadshow with his feisty nature a trait that only seems to spur him on.
Bringing a much-improved game to the Premier League, Gurney will be a thorn in anyone’s side and has the potential to at least make it to the O2 should he play to the form he is capable of.
World Ranking: 6
Premier League Best: N/A (2018 debutant)
2017 Premier League Result: N/A
Suljovic’s rise up the rankings has been one of the real feel good stories over the last few seasons in the PDC. With his idiosyncratic technique you would be forgiven for wondering how the Austrian is so popular, but ‘The Gentle’ is one of the game’s nicest characters and a man who knows his own game inside out.
Unique in his selection but nonetheless deadly on the doubles, Suljovic will look to claim more top scalps in his first Premier League appearance. His victory at the Champions League of Darts very much felt like a breakthrough moment and a run to the Semi-Finals at The Masters last weekend shows he is in a positive frame of mind.
Do not count against the ‘giant killer’ dealing with the pressure and thriving week to week during the tournament.
Raymond van Barneveld
World Ranking: 10
Premier League Best: Winner (2014)
2017 Premier League Result: 6th
Having Raymond van Barneveld as a dark horse may seem ludicrous to some, but ‘Barney’s’ ability to consistently deliver has waned over the past few years with good performances on TV following dips in form.
The Dutchman, though, is no stranger to the Premier League. This will be RvB’s 13th appearance tying Phil Taylor’s record, while the legendary thrower has tasted victory once before in 2014.
Some outstanding performances at The Masters at the weekend, on his way to a narrow defeat in the final to Michael van Gerwen, leaves van Barneveld in a rich vein of form heading into the opening week. The battle will be to keep it up over 16 long weeks.
World Ranking: 12
Premier League Best: N/A (2018 debutant)
2017 Premier League Result: N/A
Perhaps the biggest unknown heading into the tournament, Welshman Gerwyn Price has shown himself to be one of the most dangerous men outside the established order at the top.
With destructive scoring ability, Price can hang with the best of them and ‘The Iceman’ also enjoyed his best year to date in 2017 with runs to two TV finals alongside a strong showing at the World Championship where it took a superb MvG performance to knock him out in the last 16.
Another man who thrives on a challenge and a real battle, Price will certainly not be there just to make up the numbers with a chance to truly cement himself amongst the game’s elite, alongside a Premier League trophy, on the line.
World Ranking: 8
Premier League Best: Runner-Up (2012)
2017 Premier League Result: N/A
Australian Simon Whitlock has embarked on a career renaissance of late after falling down the rankings following several lean years. 2017 saw ‘The Wizard’ reach his first major final since 2013 as he was narrowly edged out by Daryl Gurney at the World Grand Prix.
The Aussie has vital Premier League experience, which may be a big factor this year more than any other, after experiencing the draining nature of the 16-week tournament on five separate occasions including coming up short at the final hurdle in 2012.
Whitlock is an enigma who will add colour to the event but he will be a danger to any of the big names.
World Ranking: 11
Premier League Best: 10th (2016)
2017 Premier League Result: N/A
After a nightmare debut Premier League campaign in 2016, ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith returns to the tournament in 2018 hoping for better fortunes and to have learned from his chastening experiences.
Smith had a consistent, if unspectacular, 2017 but continues to show that he has the potential to rise to the top of the game.
The only thing stopping Smith is his ability under pressure, having missed golden opportunities in his last two World Championship appearances in falling to defeat to James Wade and Rob Cross at the last 16 stage after being in positions of considerable strength.
Another Premier League campaign, with lessons learned, should give Smith the opportunity to work on this unwanted trait and, perhaps, surprise many by upsetting the big guns.
With only hours to go until the tournament kicks off for another year, the anticipation is high and the expectations are even more so. Who will triumph come May 17? We predict another Michael van Gerwen title with Rob Cross to make the play-offs and the pick of the dark horses to be Mensur Suljovic.
Premier League Darts 2018: Night One (Dublin) – Thursday February 1
Mensur Suljovic v Simon Whitlock
Gary Anderson v Michael Smith
Daryl Gurney v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
Bully Boy’s views on PDC Worlds, turnaround in form, broken bones and more
We are delighted to be joined by top 10 PDC-ranked star and former World Youth champion Michael Smith, who shares his exclusive thoughts to Sam Barnard for Darts World ahead of his seventh successive Ally Pally appearance, in Part 4 of our 2018 PDC World Championship profile/interview series.
Bully Boy has vast Worlds experience, despite being only 27, and has reached at least the third round in each of the last four editions.
He is currently the youngest player inside the PDC’s top 10 Order of Merit, and ever since breaking onto the darting scene a few years back has reached the latter stages in multiple Major events as well as earned invites to the Premier League and World Series.
Smith’s own high standards arguably got the better of him in 2016, but that has also driven him to come back better, which he certainly has this year.
The Gibraltar Darts Trophy is his sole success on the oche in 2017 to date, but there is no doubting that he’ll be a contender for many Majors and a top name in the sport for plenty of years to come.
So, read on about the above and more for our exclusive Michael Smith interview and profile, the fourth in our series, ahead of the 2018 PDC World Championship from December 14 – January 1…
Date of birth: 18/09/1990 (age 27) Place of birth: St Helens Nation: England Based: St Helens Nickname: Bully Boy Walk-on song: Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon Darts used: 24g Michael Smith Unicorn Management company: Dunvegan Enterprises Sponsors: Rix Motor Company, Car Finance 24/7, Unicorn, Dunvegan Enterprises Twitter handle: @BullyBoy180
Favourite double: 10 Favourite checkout: Any that wins me a leg! Favourite tournament: PDC World Championship Favourite country played in: New Zealand Toughest player faced: Gary Anderson – I try too hard Players to watch in future: Chris Dobey, Adam Hunt Sports/darts heroes growing up: Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Sir Alex Ferguson Best mates in darts: Gary Anderson, Ian White, Dave Chisnall, Chris Dobey, Adam Hunt Favourite food: Vindaloo Favourite film/TV show: Walking Dead Favourite band: Boyce Avenue Hobbies outside of darts: Watching other sports and playing with my kids Current/previous day job: Part time darts, full time airport attendant! Also a farmer when a kid Ultimate darting ambition: World number 1, world champion and achieve what I know I can do in this game
Michael Smith interview
Having reached at least the last 16 in the last four PDC Worlds, how special is the event for you? And how excited are you ahead of the upcoming edition?
The last two events have been cruel, I lost them because of lost concentration.
Against Barney in the quarters [in 2016], I should have easily won. Also last year against [James] Wade, both being 3-0 up and losing.
But I love this event, that’s what we work for all year and that’s when I seem to bring my A-game.
At still such a young age, you’ve already achieved so much. What has been your proudest darting moment to date?
Winning the youth Worlds and all my other titles, but my proudest moment was becoming a daddy both times.
Your form slightly declined in 2016, but you have certainly put that behind you by reaching three finals this year that included winning the Gibraltar Trophy. Was there anything you changed that helped get you back to playing at your best?
I changed my darts because I wanted to get my confidence back for my other darts.
So when I had enough I went back to my old ones and it helped me.
After such a brilliant start to life in the PDC and winning the 2013 World Youth title, did you perhaps put too much pressure on yourself to achieve so highly so soon? Or are your natural high standards the reason why you are such a force in darts?
I have high standards in everything I do.
I won’t be happy until all my goals are complete.
As of this interview, you are back in the PDC top 10 and the youngest player currently in that group. Are you there to stay now, and what are your aims for 2018 and the end of this year?
Next year my aims are [breaking into the] top 4, but if I get to Premier League and World Series it’s happy days.
But my aim is top 4 end of the year and that’s what I’ll be focused on because then I’ll be automatically in those events.
I also want to play in the World Cup, I want to represent my country at least once.
How was your first taste of playing in the World Series Down Under this August? Do you mind travelling abroad so far? And more importantly, have you forgiven Gary Anderson for making you jump off the Auckland Sky Tower??
I loved it and I’d do it all the time.
Next time I will take my family so they can experience it as well.
[The Sky Tower jump] was Jamie Banks doing my head in asking and asking, and then Gaz said he would put money in for charity so I couldn’t say no!
It must be great to be part of the Dunvegan setup with Gary and other top players. How much of a help have the management team, Gary and other fellow professionals been since you joined?
It’s been a massive help. We’re all mates and get on well, there are no idiots in the team – Tommy wouldn’t allow it so there’s no going behind backs, just all praise for one another.
We help each other out when we can – like Gary has us all down to stay before Minehead so we can practise together and then relax.
And from the management side Tommy and Stephanie [Gilmour] are there to make sure everything is done right, and they fight for us when needed.
Tommy is always on at us to make sure we’re saving and being sensible with our money. If we’re not well, he wants to know about it in case we need specialist help.
He’s always said he treats the boys like family – including [during] the tellings off!!
What made you get into darts, and at what point did you realise you were good enough to make it as a pro?
I got into it around 14/15 only because I broke my hip and had nothing to do, so I used to sit on the stairs and watch my dad practise and just thought I’d give it a go.
When I was 19, I broke both hands on Christmas Eve so I thought it was all over. But it was the best thing I ever did, because shortly after I got my fight and passion back for the game and soon won my first Pro Tour [title] just after.
That was also the kick start of when I started to believe.
Moving onto football. Being a Man Utd fan what do you think of their season so far? Are the glory days coming back under Mourinho, or is his style not the United way?
We’ve been better than our recent seasons, but we will never get back to the Sir Alex days and Jose [Mourinho] brings his own style.
At the minute we’re missing [Paul] Pogba, and also a right mid and left back because for some reason Jose doesn’t like [Luke] Shaw.
Finally, back to darts again. Are there any favourite or standout memories you have watching the World Championship in the past, besides your own successes?
Both Gary’s titles.
I only watch him play, otherwise I don’t watch darts because darts isn’t allowed on the TV when I’m at home!
Many thanks to Michael for speaking to us this week. Join us for part 5 of our PDC Worlds interview series next time, where we’ll hear the thoughts and views of two-time world champion Gary Anderson.
Peter Wright was victorious in Leverkusen as he overcame former doubles partner Mervyn King in a sensational final. In a weekend that featured a shock exit for Michael van Gerwen and another excellent run from Michael Smith, Peter Wright came out on top. Read on to find out who else made their name in Germany.
Peter Wright confirmed his semi-final spot with a win over fellow Premier League participant Dave Chisnall. The pair exchanged blows early on with the first two legs going with the throw. It was after a second missed 161 attempt that Snakebite would kick into gear.
A succession of excellent finishes putting him in the clear as Chizzy faded into the distance. Both players will be travelling the China for next weeks Shanghai Darts Masters, but it was Chisnall who was sent packing in Germany.
World number three Wright would face Mensur Suljovic at the semi-final stage. The Austrian had earlier dumped out the weekends surprise package John Henderson. The Scot had rampaged through both Kim Huybrechts and Alan Norris, but despite an outrageous 156 check-out, it was not enough for ‘Hendo’ to reach a first European Tour semi-final of the year.
Following last week’s sensational final in Vienna, Michael Smith was looking to go one step further and win his second European Tour event of the season. His spotless record against Gerwyn Price speaks for itself, but the St Helen’s dartist needed a big performance on stage to beat the Welshman.
Some exceptional scoring saw him take the early advantage before Price found the form that has led him into the Premier League fold. A Shanghai on the 20’s levelled proceedings at three a piece, before Smith engaged the after-burners. Some ruthless finishing coupled with an upturn in scoring saw him take three of the next four legs and confirm a semi-final encounter with Mervyn King.
The King would hit his second tonne plus average of the day in beating a darting giant-killer in the name of Rob Cross. Cross had produced some outstanding displays considering it is just his first year on the PDC circuit. His 6-2 of Michael van Gerwen earlier in the afternoon had sent shockwaves across the darting world, but there was nothing he could do as the veteran King pulled out his A-game to reach the semi-finals.
Peter Wright continued his track towards his ninth tournament win of 2017. Overturning a 3-1 deficit against Mensur Suljovic to seal a special 6-3 victory. The big Austrian was out of the blocks quickly, capitalizing on Wright’s missed doubles to sail into an early lead.
But the World number three gritted his teeth and took out 116 to level the match. It was easy going from then on, with Suljovic producing little resistance. He would eventually seal the deal with a clean two dart finish on 81, rounding off a extraordinary comeback with 12-darter!
Mervyn King, who was yet to make it past the third round in Europe this year, joined former doubles partner Wright in the Leverkusen final. Although he could not reach the sensational tonne plus averages of the previous three rounds, 96.58 was enough to see him through.
King always seemed to be one step ahead of the St Helen’s youngster, with Smith not seeing himself gaining an advantage throughout the contest.
The world number 20 will form a formidable opponent for any player at the World Matchplay in a couple of weeks time, especially with the ruthless doubling he has performed this weekend.
The former darting compatriots traded 177’s and breaks to open the barn-storming final. A third break of throw would come in the form of a 13-darter from the UK Open champion, and a two leg cushion would be opened up for the first time in the contest curtesy of another solid leg from Wright.
Snakebite would snatch the proceeding two legs to give himself daylight and make it almost impossible for King to mount a comeback. The royal one rattled in two more maximums to chalk a second leg. But after a long weekend, it would prove to be one step too far for King, as Wright applied to finishing touches on 101 to become 2017 HappyBet European Darts Open champion.
On Thursday night, Michael Smith will become the 28th player to feature in the Premier League after impressing during 2015, but history suggests that the St Helens thrower has a sizeable task on his hands if he wants to establish himself in the tournament.
Six of the current crop have featured in every edition of the event since making their debut, while Adrian Lewis and James Wade have only missed one year since making their debut in 2007 and 2008 respectively. It also took a major tournament win for Robert Thornton to regain his place in the competition.
It highlights the difficultly in not only retaining your place among the sport’s elite, but being able to make a sustained impact on a weekly basis while you travel up and down the country. The sums of money on offer and the regular exposure on television make it all worth it, but regardless of experience or current form, longevity in the competition is not guaranteed.
As many as 11 of the previous 27 participants have made two appearances or less, with seven currently being limited to just one year. Some will have ambitions of making a return in the near future, but below, Darts World takes a look at the contrasting fortunes of each player who have made their debut in the tournament since 2010, with the competition evolving to accommodate two extra throwers from 2013 onwards.
After his run to the PDC World Championship final, Simon Whitlock was granted his debut in 2010, but everything did not go according to plan for the Australian thrower in his first fixture. An 8-3 defeat and an 84 average against Phil Taylor left ‘The Wizard’ with it all to do, but despite remaining inconsistent throughout the 14 weeks, Whitlock finished in second place in the standings, before losing out to James Wade in the semi-finals.
Whitlock would go on to become an ever-present for the next four years, with an appearance in the final in 2012 his best performance, but after finishing bottom of the table in 2014, he has slipped off the radar.
Like Whitlock a year earlier, Gary Anderson would benefit from reaching the World Championship final but his Premier League debut would lead to his first televised triumph in the PDC. The Scot recorded eight wins during the league format to secure third place, but on finals night, he was superb in beating both Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis to continue what had been a rich vein of form on television.
The following two years saw Anderson bow out before the playoffs, but after a narrow semi-final defeat to Michael van Gerwen in 2014, he returned a year later to beat the world number one 11-7 in the final.
After back-to-back appearances in the World Championship semi-finals, Mark Webster was handed a wildcard for the 2011 campaign, and he suggested in the opening four weeks that he could become a mainstay in the competition, with an average of 110.19 being registered in an 8-2 demolition of Lewis. However, the Welsh left-hander would fail to win any of his remaining 10 matches as he finished with the worst record in the history of the tournament.
Webster would perform well for the remainder of 2011, reaching final of the Players Championship Finals at the end of the year. However, a first-round exit at the Worlds was the catalyst for a fall down the rankings, and it was only during the second half of 2015 that we witnessed the former BDO world champion show signs of a resurgence.
After his surprise appearance in the 2012 World Championship final, Andy Hamilton would be provided with a wildcard for the next staging of the Premier League and he capitalised on the most closely-fought tournament ever by reaching the semi-finals with just four wins from 14 contests. He would lose in the last four to Whitlock, but his performances were enough to secure inclusion for the following year.
However, the 2013 event would represent his second and final appearance. The Stoke-on-Trent thrower won six times in 16 games but it was only enough to finish in seventh position.
Kevin Painter had slipped down the PDC Order of Merit during 2011 but his surprise success at the Players Championship Finals earned him a wildcard in 2012. ‘The Artist’ was always in contention for a playoff position, but an 8-1 drubbing against Hamilton was the difference between his opponent finishing third and Painter finishing seventh, and he has not featured in the event since his debut.
Michael van Gerwen
His victory at the World Grand Prix secured Michael van Gerwen’s debut in the Premier League in 2013 and the Dutchman has not looked back since. Eleven wins from 16 group fixtures was followed by victories over Van Barneveld and Taylor in the playoffs as he claimed his second PDC Major, but while continuing to dominate the league phase, he has not added a second crown to his trophy cabinet.
Making the final on each of his three appearances in the tournament is an achievement in itself, but only finishing as runner-up to Van Barneveld and Anderson in each of the last two years will only motivate Van Gerwen ahead of this year’s competition.
While Van Gerwen was taking centre stage, Robert Thornton was doing his best to keep pace with the rapid youngster. The Scot would suffer just two defeats in nine during the first stage, but five defeats in seven outings would see him miss out on the playoffs by just two points.
The following year, the former UK Open champion would scrape through to the last eight, but he would only win twice in 16 matches in 2014 – a run of results that would see him miss out on a wildcard 12 months later.
The third debutant of 2013 – Wes Newton – found the tournament considerably tougher than Van Gerwen and Thornton. The Fleetwood thrower would lose six of his opening nine games, which would see him end the tournament in ninth place.
An otherwise consistent year would see Newton earn a second Premier League appearance, but again, he would finish in ninth place, claiming just two more wins – against Van Barneveld and Lewis – in another disappointing campaign.
After his surprise run to the World Championship final, many questioned whether Peter Wright could maintain his consistency during the 2014 Premier League season, but ‘Snakebite’ would make an instant impression. Seven matches without defeat further enhanced his growing reputation and although he eventually missed out on the playoffs, his performances between February and May of that year sent a message to his rivals that he had the ability to gatecrash the upper echolons of the PDC Order of Merit.
Wright would fail to replicate his results in the tournament in 2015, but ahead of his third appearance this year, his ranking position and entertainment value should make him a guaranteed pick for the next few years.
Dave Chisnall would win just three of his 16 matches during the 2014 event but his results did not tell the whole story. The former Lakeside runner-up failed to emerge victorious in four fixtures where he averaged over 100, while he hit the most 180s during the league phase.
However, his place in the 2015 edition was under threat until he reached the final of the Grand Slam of Darts, and he capitalised on that run to match Van Gerwen during the league format. Chisnall would head the standings after week five, and although he eventually finished in second spot, he would again hit the most 180s over 16 matches. The St Helens thrower would miss three match darts against Gary Anderson in the semi-finals, but Chisnall is now an obvious choice for a wildcard each year.
An excellent first 12 months with the PDC resulted in Bunting being given a wildcard for the 2015 event, but the Liverpudlian failed to fully recover from a slow start. He would reach the last eight of the group phase, but he was too far behind to realistically threaten for a playoff place and he would end his debut campaign with just three wins from 16 matches.
Kim Huybrechts would join Bunting in making his bow in 2015 but despite a number of impressive performances, which included an average of over 107 against Chisnall, the Belgian would finish bottom of the standings with just four points from nine matches
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