Premier League Darts begins in Belfast on Thursday night with a few tweaks to the old format.
Ten players will take each other on this time around, while there’s the added element of relegation to keep all the players on their toes.
How the new changes will work is that the 10 will face each other once and after week nine the bottom two will be knocked out and play no further part. The remaining players will then square up against each other again to determine who will make the play-offs for the right to win the Premier League.
As the six-time winner of the second-most lucrative event in darts, Phil Taylor is the favourite at 2/1 to pick up the £150,000 first prize. Close behind him is the outstanding Michael van Gerwen, who despite making his debut in the event is available at just 5/2.
Dutchman Van Gerwen is not the only player making his Premier League bow this year. World number seven Wes Newton, a recent finalist in the European Championship, and Robert Thornton, who won the UK Open last year after famously beating Taylor in the final, are the other two new boys.
Everyone else in the field was present last year, featuring a resurgent Raymond van Barneveld, former world champion Adrian Lewis, who partnered Taylor in retaining the PDC World Cup of Darts last weekend in Hamburg, and fellow Stoke native Andy Hamilton.
European champion Simon Whitlock and former Premier League winners James Wade and Gary Anderson complete the line-up.
Four in a row
So what makes Taylor favourite for this year’s Premier League Darts crown?
A lethal combination of form, talent and experience – he’s won the last three televised events including the 2013 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship, and outplayed almost everyone at the World Cup, carrying partner Lewis for England.
Taylor also has more experience of this tournament than anyone else, as he’s the only one to have played in every single Premier League since its inception in 2005.
The fact that he’s the greatest player to ever tickle tungsten also helps, but he will face stiff competition.
The Dutch duo of Van Gerwen and van Barneveld look likely to continue their impressive form, while Whitlock’s run to the final of last year’s event proves that he will be a threat.
As an outside bet, Hamilton looks good value at 20/1 to win, although he’s never won a major tournament before, while Thornton’s odds of 25/1 look a little long.