The anticipation for this years Premier League Darts has been subdued in comparison to previous years.
Replacing the injured Gary Anderson with nine other “contenders” and the selection of an underperforming Raymond van Barneveld has led to a waning excitement from fans; questioning the integrity of the Premier League Darts.
Those questions have already been forgotten after a high-quality opening night in Newcastle.
A Competitive “Contender”
After reaching the last-16 at the 2019 World Championships, Chris Dobey was selected as one of the “contenders”, and he didn’t disappoint.
“Hollywood” let a 5-1 lead slip against Mensur Suljovic but battled back to gain a spirited 6-6 draw against the world number eight; averaging 98.59 and hitting six 180’s.
Suljovic had to dig deep and produce similar form to his Masters first round match, despite Dobey being a 3/1 underdog pre-match. Although the “contenders” are not on the same world-class level as Gary Anderson, Dobey did not look out of place at all and proved that he was deserved of his selection.
The Start of Barney’s Swansong
Another player who had to prove his doubters wrong was Raymond van Barneveld. After a forgetful 2018 campaign for the legendary Dutchman and surprising first-round defeat in the World Championships to Darius Labanauskas, Barney sought to justify his selection for the Premier League.
Flashes of Barney’s vintage form were on display but it was not enough in a 4-7 defeat against James Wade. Both players scored the same amount of 100+ (14), 140+ (8) and 180’s throughout the game but Wade edged the win in typical fashion.
“The Machine” was clinical on his checkouts; hitting a 58.33% checkout percentage and winning 3 of his 7 legs when Barney was first to the double. Barney will hope to improve on this performance to be competitive at this year’s Premier League.
Against All Odds
Battling against the crowd and his own demons, Gerwyn Price won his first Premier League match in a 7-4 victory against Daryl Gurney. “The Iceman” scored a 104 average and hit six 180’s en-route to the win at the dismay of the crowd at the Metro Radio Arena.
Boos rang around the arena whenever Price took to the oche due to his antics at the Grand Slam, resulting him in receiving the biggest fine in the sports history. In his post-match interview, Price explained he had to take the shackles off and celebrate in order to play his natural game.
Wayne Mardle echoed this opinion during commentary “Price is an entertainer and needs to play his own game” “Players shouldn’t walk on and off the stage and act like robots.”
Mardle completely misses the point when it comes to the animosity towards Price. His celebrations at the Grand Slam were aggressive and a clear example of gamesmanship. Price should not be considered a victim in this regard.
Although, Price’s celebrations in this match were fine, not interfering with Gurney’s throw. This is the line that needs to be replicated by Price to avoid any future problems.
World Class Darts
All the games at the opening night of the Premier League produced world class darts, with plenty of 100+ averages and high checkouts. Michael Smith pushed MVG to the limit in his first-round match in a valiant 5-7 defeat. Van Gerwen’s break of throw in the 10th leg at 5-5 and an average of 104 was enough to continue his winning form from the Masters.
Rob Cross and Peter Wright also fought to a draw with both players scoring 100+ averages. The initial doubts of the quality of darts at this years Premier League have been proven wrong. The rustiness from the players is falling and only world class will follow into the new year.
Author: Freddie Webb