Premier League Darts returns this week and is a showcase for the best players in the world to show what they can do in front of huge crowds at arenas around the UK and Ireland.
This year’s competition has 10 competitors including defending champion Phil Taylor and debutant Michael van Gerwen.
The line-up is also made up of Adrian Lewis, James Wade, Simon Whitlock, Andy Hamilton, Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld, while Wes Newton and Robert Thornton are two more players making their bow in the PDC’s own travelling circus.
Since it was first created in 2005, Premier League Darts has grown and grown to the point where every night they sell out arenas in cities like Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Dublin.
The top four players in the world plus six wildcard picks play each other once and then the two players at the bottom of the table are relegated. The remaining eight participants play against each other and the top four make the play-offs at the O2 in London.
The Premier League has seen records broken, impossible feats achieved and a few unsavoury incidents where players have had spats and fans have given some competitors undeserving stick.
In the past, there have been five nine-dart finishes, more 170 checkouts and three-dart averages over 100 almost every week. On the flipside, there’s been plenty of controversy over the years.
The mix of drama, suspense, rivalry and quality arrows have helped to make Premier League Darts one of the highlights on the darting calendar.
Taylor, who has won the event six times, is the 2/1 favourite. The Power has helped to light up this event, but what are the most memorable moments in Premier League history? Here are our five:
Power on cloud nine
The 2010 final was arguably the greatest in Premier League history. A tight, tense and high-quality battle between eventual winner Taylor and defending champion Wade, it was so special because of something never previously achieved on the oche: two nine-dart finishes in the same match!
Robbie gets savaged in Sheffield
During the 2007 event at the Sheffield Arena, one of the sport’s most famous fans made an appearance. Football’s own pantomime villain Robbie Savage was in the crowd, hoping to avoid the booing he was used to on the pitch, but the fans had other ideas once the Sky cameras turned on him!
In a reprisal of one of the hottest rivalries in darts in Glasgow last year, Lewis took on Wade in the hope of getting over a stuttering start to his campaign. Despite winning 8-5, all was not well for Jackpot, as Wade complained that he was deliberately bouncing on the stage to unsettle him. Needless to say, Adie wasn’t too happy.
Anderson goes 180 crazy!
In a match that would seal his place in the 2011 play-offs, debutant Anderson hit a record 11 180’s in his group match with Whitlock. Anderson then went on to win the whole tournament, pocketing a cool £125,000 and wiping the Ladbrokes World Championship final disappointment from his memory.
Power’s unbeaten streak ended
In 2008, Taylor came into the tournament without having lost a single game. Coming up against old foe Peter Manley, he went an astonishing 44 games undefeated, but a surprise 8-3 defeat to ‘One Dart’ ended his run. He still won the tournament though, beating Wade in the final.
What can we expect from this year’s event? Seen by many darts fans as the strongest field ever, there’s every chance of yet more nine-darters, ton-plus checkouts and exciting matches throughout the 15 weeks of the Premier League.