The 2021 Premier League Darts begins on Monday 5 April.
Here at Online Darts, we’ll preview every player’s chances in the tournament, and what to expect from them throughout the event.
We start our preview with world number five, and former Premier League finalist, Rob Cross…
New Year’s Day, 2018. A day that darts fans will never forget.
After a career spanning 30 years, Phillip Douglas Taylor said goodbye to the sport after losing the World Championship Final.
He was defeated by Rob Cross, who capped off arguably the greatest debut year in history with the game’s ultimate prize.
Planet darts was his oyster. Many thought he could consistently challenge Michael van Gerwen for major honours.
Fast forward three years to Sunday 3 January 2021. Cross makes his third successive Premier League Darts appearance, after ending the year world number four.
However, this feels like Rob Cross’ last chance to prove he’s not a flash in the pan.
Which Cross will turn up in this year’s Premier League Darts?
The question darts writers, pundits and opinion formers often ask themselves about Rob Cross, is what exactly is a Rob Cross?
Is he the player that finished top of the Pro Tour Order of Merit in his first year, made the European Championship Final, before taking home the Sid Waddell Trophy to complete the fairy tale, defeating van Gerwen in the semi finals in quite possibly the best ever game played on the Alexandra Palace stage?
Or is he the player that has struggled since then, going out before the quarter final stages in 10 of the last 11 ranking events since the European victory in Gottingen?
In fact, since that win in Germany, Cross has not won any tournament. He made the final of the World Series Finals last year, and was one half of the England side to finish runner up in the 2020 World Cup. But in the main, the results have not been good enough for the fifth best player in the world, according to the PDC rankings.
The question now, is can Voltage put this behind him heading into the 2021 Premier League?
Jack “Gobby” Garwood gives his prediction on what we’ll see from Rob Cross in this year’s Premier League, and where he will finish:
Trying to predict how Rob Cross will perform in this Premier League is like trying to pick a Saturday Acca. You think you’ve got it all worked out, and then the unthinkable happens.
Capable of the scintillating, sublime, shambolic and everything in between, Cross has become an enigma.
That being said, its those moments of magic from Cross that means his fans can stay hopeful of seeing Voltage all the way up until the playoffs.
Yes he will have some bad nights, but I believe we will see some excellent ones too.
“He must take the opportunity handed to him”
Cross will be the first to tell you that his 2020, particularly in the Premier League, was poor. He only registered one win, against Nathan Aspinall in week two. For the rest of the weeks pre COVID, he kept himself in games, getting a couple of draws to stay ahead in the relegation battle.
However, when the tournament resumed in August, he won nine legs in three games. Daryl Gurney eventually overtook him on Judgement Night, meaning Cross was eliminated at the first stage.
That’s not to say his Premier League Darts campaigns have been all bad. In 2018, he made the semi finals on debut, before losing to MvG. In 2019, he topped the table going into the final week, until James Wade beat him causing Voltage to finish second. He then made the final, before van Gerwen beat him once more to take his fourth title at this event.
When the 2021 line up was announced, people could not believe it included Cross. However, as world number four at the time, he was automatically included. Some might call him lucky to be there, but now he must take the opportunity handed to him.
He’s got a World Matchplay and potential European Championship title to defend on his ranking this year. Many expect to see Voltage plummet down the rankings, given the form he’s been in.
There cannot be many times where the world number five has the longest odds of winning the biggest non ranking title of all. Over the next month, Cross has got to find the old version of himself back. The man who hits 180s for fun. The man who pings doubles with his eyes shut. The man who was once at the top of the darting world.
If he does not, and in particular if he’s eliminated on Judgement Night, this could be the start of a decline as almost meteoric as his rise.