Contenders to Return? Hearn Claims Premier League Trial A Success.

The Contenders provided an opportunity for players and variety for fans. Will the idea be revisited in 2020?

German Darts Masters stats.
John Henderson Provided a PL Highlight with his Contender slot, earning a thrilling draw vs MVG.

Reports suggest that PDC will consider repeating, or even extending, ‘The Contenders’ place in the Premier League line up.

Chairman Barry Hearn stated earlier:

“I think it worked,” said Hearn. “Some of the matches produced electric atmospheres and the guys played well.

“One of the things we have to do is build characters for the future, and to build them properly they have got to be exposed to the general public and have experience on the big stage.

“The Contenders gave them a chance to show their wares. It will be on the agenda at the next PDC Board meeting.

“We’ve got to constantly evolve and we can’t get complacent – we’ve got to keep pushing the boundaries, keep being creative, innovate and take risks and we will do that.”

The introduction and success of the European Tour may suggest that exposure to stage matches, and a larger audience, can be significant in the development of more characters, and star players, it could be argued that the one-night Premier League trial is a similar tool.

The opposite view is that at least one player is missing out on an opportunity to develop over the course of the entire PL season. Both Gerwyn Price and Micheal Smith performed superbly in their second attempt.

In the end ‘Uncle Barry’ and the PDC board will make the decision, weighing a number of business, sponsorship, TV and player development factors. It will be interesting to see what system they come up with for 2020 and beyond.

Original reports from

Pics: PDC / L lustig

Additional comment from

Henderson’s Appetite Increased by Contender Experience.

German Darts Masters stats.
Henderson is looking for a first ranking title in 2019. PIC: His runner up spot in the 2018 German Darts Masters.

JOHN HENDERSON is targeting a regular premier league place after his sensational debut in Aberdeen which saw him draw 6-6 with four-time champion Michael van Gerwen.

The fifth contender to replace the injured Gary Anderson, Henderson received a spine-tingling reception from an adoring Aberdeen crowd before battling back from 5-2 down to tie with the world number one. World number 21 Henderson, the highest ranked contenders the time of selection reflected on a special night which he believes could change the course of his

“I’ve never experienced anything like it and I don’t think I ever will again in my darting career, it will live with me forever,” said an emotional Henderson. “When I first got told I was going to be playing in Aberdeen the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and it was truly an honour to take Gary’s place. “I loved the bagpipes during the walk-on but it was hard for me to hear them because the crowd were so loud; they were absolutely fantastic for me and I want to thank every one of them.

I’ve played in great atmospheres at Ally Pally and the Winter Gardens but that was just phenomenal, and to draw with the best player in the world in your hometown just left me speechless. “I felt a little bit nervous because I was so desperate to play well for the fans, even if I got beat 7-0 I just wanted to play well and thankfully I think I made everyone’s night.”

Since making the switch to the PDC in 2011, Henderson has made regular appearances in televised events, including a memorable run to the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix in 2017. The 45-year-old Scott is now aiming to land a first PDC ranking title in 2019, but Henderson has set high ambitions for the rest of his career.

My goal now is to qualify for the Premier League by right, this has given me the appetite for more,” Henderson added. “I know I’m getting on a bit and there are some great young lads coming through, but you never know. “I’ll take a lot from this and hopefully kick on for the rest of the season and win my first ranking title, and once I get over that line I could go on to win many.

The contenders’ idea has proved to be genius from the PDC. Every one of us has proved that we can contend with the top players. “The fear factor of Michael and Gary is slowly disappearing but they’re still the boys to beat – we’ve got to catch up with them and I feel we are.”

This article originally appeared, in similar form, in the April Edition of Darts World Magazine.