It’s nearly that time of year again when ten of world darts’ leading lights set off on a 17-week tungsten roadshow across the UK, Ireland and parts of Europe. Here are our Premier League Darts 2019 betting tips.
The 2019 Premier League campaign will take in dates at destinations as far-flung as Aberdeen and Rotterdam; it kicks off in Newcastle on February 7 and zig-zags all the way to London for finals night on May 23.
This event is considered a major now on the PDC calendar. The winner trousers a cheque for £250,000 and the losing semi-finalists still walks away with £80,000. There are plenty of reasons for the participants to give the darts Premier League their full attention.
The man they are all trying to catch, as ever, is Michael van Gerwen. He has won the last three editions of the Premier League; he’s got his hands on this trophy four times in total and has appeared in the final every single time he has been selected to play in the tournament.
Is there any way that the doyen of Dutch darts can be stopped in 2019?
Tournament History & Format
The first edition of the Premier League was devised in 2005, and it took place in rather less salubrious surroundings than the players are used to these days.
Phil Taylor and co took to the likes of Carlisle’s Sands Centre, the Kidderminster Glades Arena and Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes. The Power eventually came out on top and pocketed a ‘measly’ £50k for his troubles.
As darts’ popularity has grown, so too has the Premier League. The field has increased from seven players to ten and the prize pot enhanced from a total of £150k all those years ago to the £850k the players will battle for in 2019.
There has been a slight change in format for this year’s edition too. As normal, the ten players will take each other on in a round-robin set-up. After those nine weeks, the pair sat in the relegation zone in the league table will be dumped out of the competition.
The second phase will see the players take each other on once more; however, this year it will be one match per night for all; rather than in previous year’s where two players have had to take to the oche twice in one night. To compensate, all second phase matches are longer at best-of-14 legs.
The top four then progress to the O2 Arena, with the semi-finals played over the best-of-19 and the final being a race to eleven legs.
Most of the Premier League field picks itself.
Messrs Van Gerwen, Rob Cross, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson have been given automatic invites based upon their top four rankings in the PDC Order of Merit.
The PDC can then dish out four wildcards, which they have given to Daryl Gurney, Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price, who are ranked five, six and seven respectively in the Order of Merit. Their fourth card went to James Wade, who won the World Series of Darts and European Championship in the second half of 2018.
Sky Sports also get two wildcards, and they handed the first to Mensur Suljovic. The Gentle, ranked eighth in the world, won the German Masters last year and produced a scintillating – albeit losing – performance in the final of the World Matchplay.
The last spot could have gone to any number of players; however, in the end, Sky opted for the commercial pulling power of Raymond van Barneveld over the world ranking of Simon Whitlock.
They say there’s no room for sentiment in sport; however, Barney surely deserves his spot in his final year as a professional dartist. A trailblazer of the modern era, the Dutchman may be down to 28th in the world rankings but he still puts bums on seats and, most pertinently, can produce world-class performances when the mood takes him.
Whitlock will feel aggrieved to miss out no doubt, as the world number nine should, but a fallow final few months of the 2018 campaign cost the Wizard dearly.
The Betting Favourites
It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the bookmakers are rather sweet on the chances of Michael van Gerwen winning a fourth consecutive Premier League title. He’s as short as 5/6 with William Hill.
Gary Anderson is the perennial second favourite in any darts outright market, and that’s once again the case with Ladbrokes offering 5/1 on the Flying Scotsman.
You might come to the conclusion that Michael Smith is the third-best darter on the planet right now. That is confirmed by the bookies’ odds for the Premier League: BetHard makes Bully Boy a 9/1 concern.
And Rob Cross is expected to kick on in 2019 after shedding the world champion tag; he’s 11/1 with Unibet to make an immediate impact.
Peter Wright may be in the doldrums right now, but he’s a former Premier League finalist and should be respected….if he can find a set of darts he likes, that is. A price of 12/1 with Betfred says he can win the lot.
The market has installed Wade (50/1 with Mansion Bet) and Price (55/1 with Betsafe) as their also-rans, with Raymond van Barneveld a 66/1 punt with Ladbrokes to sign off his Premier League career in the best possible way.
The longer the format, the more likely it is that the best player in the business will get the job done. And that is why MVG is so hard to resist here.
Between him, Anderson and Phil Taylor, they have captured 12 of the 14 Premier League titles between them. That confirms that the cream typically rises to the top in this gruelling 17-week renewal.
However, 5/6 is an unbackable price really when you consider the toil required to lift this trophy. He could face, say, Smith in the semis and Anderson in the final, and you’d probably want more than 5/6 on him to beat that pair in one evening.
At the prices, we’re willing to have an each-way flutter on Rob Cross.
Voltage should have a big year now the monkey is off his back. Quite frankly he still remains one of the best players on the planet even after a 2018 campaign to forget.
He may have been dumped out of the World Championships earlier than planned, but at Alexandra Palace, he averaged 102.93, 101.72 and 97.38. This is hardly the form of a man groping around haplessly.
In 169 legs in last year’s Premier League, Cross averaged 97.33 with a tournament checkout rate of 44.85%; it’s outstanding form.
The format of the Premier League should suit his relentless nature, and quite frankly he is one of the best four players on the planet at this moment in time. By that token, he should reach finals night….and then who knows?
The other market of interest is ‘to finish bottom’. The bookies have got the knives out for Gerwyn Price here, but we fancy that he can outperform those expectations.
The Iceman is now a major winner, after taking the honours in the Grand Slam, and in his second Premier League campaign, he will be smarter in the way he goes about his business. The Welshman will surely relish the pantomime villain tag too.
With thousands of people singing his name, how can Van Barneveld fail to be inspired? There are still a few big performances in the locker, and in the European weeks, in particular, you can expect Barney to produce the goods.
Our pick to finish bottom is Suljovic, a frustratingly inconsistent performer who has failed to shine since the World Matchplay in the summer. The Austrian picked up just four points in last season’s Premier League, and he’s expected to struggle once again.
Best Bets for the Premier League 2019: