The showpiece tour in the PDC calender starts again tonight in Newcastle! 16 venues across the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands culminating in finals night at the O2 in London, it should be fantastic for anyone who loves darts.
After the World Championship Final, Barry Hearn announced the line-up for the Premier League and if we are honest there were no major shocks. Mensur Suljovic possibly will feel hard done by after a terrific year, but everyone who has been included has the ability to get the crowd going which is what the tour is all about.
Michael Van Gerwen will start every match he plays this year as favourite and after winning his second World Crown he added the first major of 2017 at the weekend, The Masters. Of course he is the one everyone will be out to beat and even if he does lose the odd game in the group stage, he will no doubt finish in the top four.
Gary Anderson, who has moved ahead of the rest for the title of second best player on the planet in recent years, should also cruise into the top four and the Newcastle crowd will be in for a treat on opening night when the pair meet.
Phil Taylor having announced his retirement at the end of the year, will have all the crowd’s behind him as always and he will be looking for the perfect Premier League finale this year.
The Power starts off against Dave Chisnall, who will surely cause shocks in the competition, but can he string enough results to make the final four? He definitely has the game for it.
Another heavyweight opening clash sees Raymond Van Barneveld face old rival Adrian Lewis. Barney knocked Lewis out of the World’s in December and both will fancy another push for the top four.
Peter Wright has been in excellent form and has improved so much in the last few years to be a genuine contender for major titles. Can the Premier League be his first? Personally, I would love to see him do it, he is a fantastic character and 2017 could be his year.
Jelle Klaasen returns to the Premier League after previously appearing in 2009 and along with Kym Huybrechts is the favourite to be eliminated after week 9. Both have the game to beat anyone in the competition and Klaasen in particular is capable of really special darts. However, it may be too much for either to put a string of results together to make London.
Finally, we have the Machine James Wade. He is Mr consistent and he will surely get enough points to avoid dropping out at the halfway stage, but the top four may be too much.
The Premier League is growing more and more every year and after the success of the first event in the Netherlands last year it will only continue to grow more.
This year will be the sixth year in a row that I have been to the Premier League, all in Newcastle. So having it as the opening night is brilliant, having MVG v Anderson also helps!
Opening week predictions
Huybrechts v Wade – Wade 7-4
Barney v Lewis – Barney 7-5
Taylor v Chisnall – Taylor 7-2
Anderson v Van Gerwen – Van Gerwen 7-3
Wright v Klaasen – Wright 7-3