Are you ready for the start of a new season of Premier League darts?
For the next nine weeks the ten players will go head-to-head before Judgement Night in Cardiff on March 31 before the bottom two get relegated.
Another six weeks, including a trip to Rotterdam for the first time is on the agenda as they fight for their place at the O2 Arena on May 19.
Defending champion and back-to-back World Champion Gary Anderson is the one they have to beat and the Scotsman will be suited by the short nature of the format.
Michael van Gerwen started 2016 by dismantling his opponents in the Masters on his way to the trophy and goes into this as 5/4 favourite. I personally could never back him at that price but he has been involved in the last three finals.
Looking at the market then James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld make the appeal at the prices.
Wade won the competition in 2009 but hasn’t got into the top four since 2013. However he showed glimpses of being back to his best during the Masters last weekend and reached the Quarter-Final of the World Championships. A fairly consistent performer the left-handed thrower won’t hit many 180s but he’ll have a steady mid-90’s average.
The other each-way play would be van Barneveld. The Dutchman who has shown more emotion of late and won the tournament back in 2014. This is his 11th appearance in the competition and he’s finished in the top four on eight occasions suggesting he is overpriced.
One slight concern with Barney is his constant tinkering with his darts and on top of that in order for his ranking to rise this year he may have to feature in more floor events leading to fatigue. Hopefully that is not an issue, as we look for this former postman to deliver.
Of course you have to question Dave Chisnall’s consistency throughout the event. One night he’ll play a sublime match then the next week he throw a bag of nails. We shouldn’t write Phil Taylor off just yet but he is another that has been changing his darts and is yet to perform with them.
Peter Wright will be there or thereabouts come Week 15 and he is the one that is hard to discount. An enigma on the oche in his colourful attire Snakebite now in his third Premier League has to break into the top four.
Debutant Michael Smith is hard to weight up. A fast-flowing player that will learn plenty every week from the competition and has potential to be a future World Champion. It’ll be interesting to see how he goes in his first Premier League.
Advice: James Wade (28/1 Each-Way)
Raymond van Barneveld (28/1 Each-Way)
All the bookies are offering markets on the Most 180s throughout the tournament. Last years final meant Gary Anderson won this market with 71 maximums – hitting seven in the final alone. Michael van Gerwen was the runner-up hit 67. That pair are the two at the head of the market but I’m interested in the 11/2 around for Dave Chisnall.
Chizzy was a beaten semi-finalist by Anderson last year who tied for second in this market with MvG on 67. He could be the value in this market, especially if able to qualify for the finals night at the O2 Arena.
Advice: Dave Chisnall Most 180s (11/2)
Robert Thornton is odds-on for relegation and after a poor 2015 it is hard to see ‘The Thorn’ escaping the dreading drop in the strongest Premier League to date.
It’s hard trying to predict this market considering van Barneveld and Wade are the next two in the betting. As you’ve seen above I fancy them to get through Judgement Night.
He is one for the future and this will be a big learning curve for him but Michael Smith has to be looked at in this market.
Looking through his head-to-head record against his rivals he only has won more matches against Adrian Lewis than he’s lost (W7 L3). For him to survive he’d have to show great fight when behind in this short format to try and gain draws where possible.
Advice: Robert Thornton (8/15)
Michael Smith (11/4)