Premier League Darts: And then there were eight…
Nine weeks have gone and the new format used for the 2013 Premier League Darts has now seen two players succumb to relegation.
It’s not a massive shock to see 2011 champion Gary Anderson go down given his inconsistency, while debutant Wes Newton didn’t perform too well either.
Eight players remain, with most of them in decent form. Just two points separate league leader Michael van Gerwen and Andy Hamilton in 6th place before the first night of the second stage of the group phase in Sheffield on Thursday.
Further adrift are Adrian Lewis and Simon Whitlock who, despite suffering heavy defeats, managed to stay afloat due to other results going in their favour. Aside from the top six, the two previous losing finalists have been disappointing, and face a tough task to make the play-offs at the O2.
At the top, the lead has changed hands almost every week. Van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld have all been top of the table at some point, while James Wade and Robert Thornton have been in and out of the top four.
There’s been little to separate the top five in terms of performances. All of them have posted a few averages in excess of 100 per visit to the board, with each player showing they’re capable of beating one another.
With the race for the play-offs now underway, we assess each player’s chances of making the final four in May – check the latest odds here.
Michael van Gerwen
Premier League title odds: 15/8
The energetic Dutch star has maintained his form from the back end of 2012, becoming the new world number two and winning a number of tour events away from TV.
His heavy scoring has been too much for many opponents, and he is clearly enjoying himself. Van Gerwen is almost a certainty for the top four.
Premier League title odds: 13/2
Apart from the 2011 season, The Machine has always made the play-offs and is the only other player left in the Premier League aside from Taylor to win the competition outright.
Wade’s finishing has helped him out massively, having a 52.38% checkout success rate for the tournament so far.
Raymond van Barneveld
Premier League title odds: 11/2
For a few years, it seemed like the legendary Dutch ace had lost his mojo, but his Grand Slam win late last year helped him to recapture past glory.
Van Barneveld has performed very well this year, and hasn’t let previous frailties affect him so far. Tiredness could be an issue if playing twice in one night.
Premier League title odds: 10/1
Like Van Gerwen, the feisty Scot has performed outstandingly in his debut season. Thornton has posted the two highest three-dart averages of the tournament to date, and hasn’t shown any nerves.
Expect him to be close to the top four by the final week in Newcastle at the very least.
Premier League title odds: 2/1
The finest player on the planet has had his wobbles after deciding to change his darts a few weeks ago, but switching back to his old arrows has helped him recover to some degree.
Taylor’s record in this tournament – winning it six times in the eight editions – suggests he will go through, having never failed to finish top of the league stage.
Premier League title odds: 22/1
This man has more grit than most local councils, but his form has dipped alarmingly in the past few weeks. Capable of getting it back, The Hammer needs to show plenty of fight if he’s to reach the play-offs for a second successive season, but in-form rivals are likely to stand in his way.
Premier League title odds: 25/1
Looking nothing like a man who has won two world titles, Jackpot’s form has climbed steadily until last week, helping him to beat the drop.
The four-point gap between himself and the play-off places can be overhauled, but Lewis must improve his finishing.
Premier League title odds: 33/1
Who would have guessed that the Australian would have got through by the skin of his teeth before the Premier League season had started? However, Whitlock is still there, and has a slim chance of reaching the semis.
The majority of his performances, though, have been worryingly below par.