That’s right. It’s Premier League Darts season once again and we’re ready to hit the oche and fire in those treble 20s!
There are some big questions to be answered over the next few months. Is 1/2 tournament favourite Michael van Gerwen set for another year of dominance? Can 7/1 shot Michael Smith or 9/1 fancy Rob Cross establish themselves as Mighty Mike’s main rivals?
How will Raymond van Barneveld go in his final campaign? And can Peter Wright or James Wade launch a consistent challenge?
There’s several new faces to witness this year too. With Barry Hearn and the PDC opting to hand nine players a shot at Premier League glory (for one week only) in the absence of Gary Anderson.
It all kicks off on Thursday night in Newcastle. And we’re ready to go with our tips for week one…
Raymond van Barneveld to beat James Wade
It’s a farewell campaign for Van Barneveld, as he looks to join old foe Phil Taylor on the retirement oche next year.
But Barney will want to go out on a high, and he’s got a good chance of starting on the front foot against James Wade. The Dutchman has won three of their last five meetings, including two of the last three in the Premier League.
Gerwyn Price v Daryl Gurney – Draw
This one could be the trickiest of the night to call, so we’re going for a good-old 6-6.
Gerwyn Price and Daryl Gurney combined for 10 draws in last season’s Premier League – including in their own meeting in 2018.
Price does hold a 7-1 head-to-head record, but there’s never been more than a leg or two in it.
Both players are entering their second Premier League campaign, and they’ll have eyes on nicking what would likely have been Anderson’s play-off spot.
So we’re saying it’ll be another ding-dong between a pair keen to start on a high, ending in a draw at 3/1.
Chris Dobey to beat Mensur Suljovic
Chris Dobey is the first of the Anderson replacements to get his chance in the Premier League. He’s been handed a tough but winnable tie against Mensur Suljovic.
The Gentle struggled in this competition last season, finishing ninth with just two wins from nine matches. A second round exit at Ally Pally wasn’t much to shout about either.
Dobey, though, had a great run to the fourth round in December, where he took Anderson to the wire in a 4-3 defeat.
Michael van Gerwen to beat Michael Smith
Michael Smith looked so strong in his run to the World Championship Final, but he couldn’t quite make it count against Michael van Gerwen in the showpiece.
Bully Boy will be hoping his Ally Pally performance is the start of a trophy-laden era, but equally Mighty Mike looked impervious throughout in North London.
The Dutchman is 1/2 to begin his campaign with a win, and 8/11 to take it with a 2.5 leg handicap. It’s hard to be confident about Smith winning here, with MvG in such form. Plus, Van Gerwen has won 26 of their 32 meetings. There’s 3/1 about him to be King of the Oche.
But if Smith can find his range – and he did make the Premier League final last year – the 180s should flow. Our traders are 6/5 about over 7.5 180s.
Rob Cross to beat Peter Wright
The opening week’s final encounter is one of the most intriguing. Both Rob Cross and Peter Wright will be hoping to step into the Anderson-shaped void and consistently challenge MvG in 2019.
Voltage showed glimpses of his power in the early rounds at Ally Pally, while Wright ended a difficult 2018 with a second round exit.
With that in mind, we’re fancying Cross to snatch it in Newcastle at 6/4.
This should be a high-scoring belter, though, and 8/11 says we see six or more 180s between the duo.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing