PDC Premier League Darts
The PDC Premier League is the biggest non-ranked event on the calendar, played over 16 weeks at the start of the year. During the year you will hear players all dreaming about getting one of the picked to play in the biggest darting roadshow.
Premier League Darts began in 2005 and has since gone on to be one of the most popular tournaments in the sport. Taking place over the course of three months from February to May, players will play weekly every Thursday as part of the Premier League tournament in a different location each week. Sponsored by Unibet, the Premier League started with seven players participating but now sees 10 players competing each week, treating fans to five stellar matches every Thursday.
Originally being hosted at venues in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the tournament has expanded to now having nights in both the Netherlands and Germany in recent years. The 2019 Premier League Darts saw one night in Berlin, before the following week had back-to-back nights in Rotterdam. Premier League Darts was originally a fortnightly event, alternating with Premier League Snooker, another Matchroom Sport entity, but the two were split to separate schedules to run weekly in their own right in 2006.
As previously mentioned, the Premier League is a weekly event taking place every Thursday night over the duration of the tournament. The selection of which players compete in the Premier League throws up some contention every year, with the top four players in the PDC Order of Merit automatically earning a spot in the Premier League.
However, the final five entries are wildcard selections chosen by the PDC, with the 10th competing player each week now being a ‘challenger’. The challengers were brought in for the first time in 2019 after Gary Anderson was a late withdrawal from the Premier League and saw a different player compete over the course of the first phase.
There are three different phases of the Premier League, with the first phase featuring a league table format. The nine challengers are not ranked in the table, but the main nine players can earn league points for a win or draw in the games against them. Two points are awarded for a win and one point for a draw. When players are tied on points, leg difference is used first as a tie-breaker, after that legs won against throw and then tournament average. The player that finishes bottom of the table after phase one is then eliminated.
In phase 2, the eight remaining players play in a single match on each of the seven nights. The top four players then compete in the knockout semi-finals and final on the playoff night.
Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen have been the dominant faces of the Premier League since 2005, winning six and five titles respectively in that time. Gary Anderson is the only other player to have won the Premier League more than once, having two titles to his name. Taylor and van Gerwen have 15 finals appearances to their name – the same number as the rest of the field that have competed in the Premier League combined. James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld are the only other two players that have a Premier League title to their name.
van Gerwen still holds the record for the highest average in Premier League history from when he clocked an incredible 123.40 against Michael Smith in 2016. The Dutchman is also responsible for four of the five highest whole tournament averages.