2020 Premier League Darts: Player-by-Player Preview

The line-up for the 2020 Premier League Darts was officially unveiled on January 1st, with nine of the sport’s best-known stars set to fight it out on a weekly basis across 16 different venues. We take a look at how each player is shaping up ahead of the event and analyse their 2019 performances in the tournament. We’ll also focus on this year’s newcomers and predict who is likely to be celebrating at the O2 Arena on May 21st.

Michael van Gerwen

Five-time Premier League winner Michael van Gerwen predictably topped the list of competitors for this year’s event. Last year’s champion is back to defend his crown and will be hoping to put his recent Alexandra Palace disappointment firmly behind him.

2019 Premier League

MVG topped the 2019 Premier League table, winning 10 of his 16 matches at the tournament. He was the only player to end the event with an average of over 100 (101.94) and won an impressive 107 legs across the 16-week period.

After edging past Daryl Gurney in the semi-finals, the Dutchman outclassed Rob Cross to retain his title and continue his domination in the Premier League. With an average of 100.98 in the final, he looked absolutely unstoppable, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him secure his sixth success in this competition.

He suffered just three defeats throughout the entire campaign, with only James Wade and Daryl Gurney able to get the better of the world number one. 

Despite slipping up against Peter Wright at the beginning of the calendar year, Mighty Mike’s recent form has been fairly rock solid. He was victorious in the Players Championship Finals, beating Gerwyn Price 11-9 to secure his fifth success at the event and also reached the final four of the Grand Slam of Darts in mid-November.

Last season, he was successful in six majors, including the World Series of Darts, the Masters and the World Grand Prix. 

Inevitably, Michael van Gerwen will start as favourite for this year’s tournament and is currently odds-on to lift the trophy for a sixth time. Although he was unable to topple Peter Wright at the World Championships, MVG’s consistency and ability to perform to a high level across a four-month period puts him head and shoulders above the majority of his rivals. It’s difficult to see him surrendering his title in 2020.

Peter Wright

Peter Wright enters this tournament as the reigning PDC World Champion, and despite some patchy performances over the last couple of seasons, he is likely to enter the Premier League with plenty of confidence this time around.

2019 Premier League

Snakebite endured a very disappointing 2019 campaign in the Premier League, deservedly finishing in eighth position. He picked up just two victories throughout the course of the tournament, beating the soon-to-be-retired Raymond Van Barneveld and guest player Steve Lennon. He also exited the competition in tremendously disappointing fashion, losing each of his last six matches.

His constant chopping and changing of his darts meant that he was unable to find any stability across the 16 weeks, and he ended the competition with the highest number of legs conceded (108). Despite his lowly position, he still managed to hit 43 180s in total. Wright must improve upon his finishing if he wishes to make it to the O2 Arena this time around.

The Scot did reach the final of the 2017 Premier League Darts, but he’s since finished seventh and eighth and will be expected to play with far more consistency this time around.  

After an up and down couple of seasons, the 49-year old arrives at this event in the form of his life. He reached the final of both the Champions League and the Grand Slam of Darts in the latter half of 2019 before securing the sport’s biggest prize on New Year’s Day. It was his first-ever success at Alexandra Palace, and despite only narrowly edging past both Jeffrey de Zwaan and Noel Malicdem, he was superb against both Gerwyn Price and Michael van Gerwen. He managed a 140 checkout in the final and threw 11 180s in total.

Plenty will be expected of one of the game’s most colourful characters this year, although questions still remain about his ability to perform on a regular basis. He is certainly enjoying a purple patch at this moment in time and is highly likely to make it through to the final four in 2020. He is joint-second favourite in the Premier League betting and is certainly worth backing to make it to London.

Gerwyn Price

The divisive Welshman returns to the Premier League for the third successive season and will fancy his chances of improving upon last season’s fifth-place finish.

2019 Premier League

The Iceman enjoyed a standout 2019 and comes into this tournament third in the latest PDC Order of Merit. Last year, a mid-tournament blip, which saw him lose three consecutive matches, put an end to his chances of making it to finals night and he’ll be determined to go one step further this time around.

The 34-year old ended the event with a 6-6-4 record and achieved a respectable competition average of 96.16. He achieved the highest individual checkout on four occasions at last year’s tournament, including a 170 against Michael Smith in front of a partisan home crowd at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

He threw the joint-second highest amount of 180s with 54 across the 16 weeks, and if he achieves a similar level of consistency this time around, he is likely to put himself firmly in the mix. 

The majority of Price’s best major results arrived in 2019, and he ended the calendar year with a semi-final appearance at Alexandra Palace. He also made it to the final of the Players Championship in November and was successful in the Grand Slam of Darts and at September’s International Darts Open.

He racked up a number of non-televised PDC titles last year and has been widely tipped for big things in 2020. 

The Welshman showed an impressive level of consistency last season, and if he can avoid a downturn in form this time around, he could be a real contender. Price appears to be getting better with every passing tournament and is expected to make it to London this time around. He could be MVG’s nearest challenger in 2020.

Rob Cross

The former electrician is set to make his third appearance in the Premier League Darts this season, and last year’s finalist will be hoping to go one better this time around.

2019 Premier League

Voltage came into last year’s tournament out-of-form, yet still managed to reach the final. Despite averaging 100.98, he still lost 11-5 to Michael van Gerwen and was forced to settle for the silver medal. The 29-year old suffered just four defeats en-route to the final and clocked the second-highest average across the first 15 weeks.

Only Michael Smith chucked more 180s than Cross during last year’s competition, and he also threw the highest weekly average on five occasions.

He occupied top spot during weeks nine and ten before being usurped by his Dutch rival. Despite a fairly underwhelming 2019 overall, Cross regularly turned on the style for the TV cameras and was extremely reliable throughout the tournament.

The Hastings-born thrower will have been extremely unhappy with his second-round exit from the World Championships, and he will be determined to bounce back here. He also failed to make progress at the Grand Slam of Darts and the World Series of Darts, yet came out on top at the European Championship in late October.

It’s been a patchy twelve months for the 2018 World Champion, and he’ll be keen to improve his consistency this year. 

Despite his heroics in the 2019 Premier League Darts, Rob Cross’ recent form is a concern. On current evidence, he isn’t playing with enough confidence to reach the semi-finals of this year’s competition.

Michael Smith

Since receiving a Premier League wildcard in 2016, Smith has been a regular at this tournament. The 2018 finalist was far too erratic last season and will be keen to bounce back from his disappointing showing twelve months ago.

2019 Premier League

Bully Boy failed to win back-to-back matches during the 2019 Premier League and finished third bottom as a result. Despite being one of the biggest hitters on the tour, the 29-year old wasn’t able to build upon his impressively high checkout of 150 on the opening night.

Smith clocked an average of 97.08 and threw the most 180s (55) in 2019. However, his streaky nature prevented him from finding any consistency, and he failed to win any of his last seven matches at the tournament. The St. Helens-born thrower was unable to break into the top half of the table and was soundly beaten by Rob Cross (8-1) at the Manchester Arena at the beginning of May. 

Following his appearance in the final of the World Matchplay at the Winter Gardens, Smith struggled for form and suffered early exits from the European Matchplay, the World Series of Darts and the Players Championship.

He was one of a number of high-profile casualties during the second round of the World Championship at Alexandra Palace this year, crashing out at the hands of outsider Luke Woodhouse.

The trainee joiner failed to win a single tournament during 2019 yet still remains fifth in the PDC Order of Merit. 

Michael Smith has been struggling to get over the line in recent months and Bully Boy could suffer another early elimination from the competition in 2020. He failed to win consecutive matches last season, and the field looks slightly stronger this time around.

Gary Anderson

The two-time winner of the Premier League Darts returns to the fold having missed last year’s event through injury, and he’ll be determined to make up for lost time in 2020.

2019 Premier League

The Scot was pencilled in to face Mensur Suljovic on the opening week of the 2019 Premier League Darts; however, he was unable to fulfil the commitment and withdrew from the tournament at the beginning of February.

The Musselburgh-born thrower had been struggling with a back injury and admitted that it was an extremely tough decision to withdraw from the event. Anderson’s spot was taken by a number of different players throughout the tournament, including Chris Dobey and Glen Durrant.

By his standards, the 49-year old had a quiet 2019, although he was successful at the World Cup of Darts in June. Anderson suffered early exits from the World Series of Darts and the World Grand Prix and also put in a below-par effort in North London. He beat Ryan Searle and Brendan Dolan before crashing out to eventual semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall.

Despite his vast experience, the Scot is difficult to trust. Although he appears to have shaken off his back trouble, there is still a lingering doubt that the man from north of the border isn’t quite firing on all cylinders. He may have to play a minor role at this year’s tournament.

Daryl Gurney

SuperChin is making his third appearance at the Premier League Darts and will be keen to build upon his semi-final appearance at last year’s event. He has been chalked up as the outsider in the outright betting market and he’ll be hoping to upset the odds once again in 2020.

2019 Premier League

The Northern Irishman finished fourth in 2019, winning 50% of his matches at the tournament. With an average of 96.72, he was one of the steadier performers in the Premier League last season and was only narrowly edged out by Michael van Gerwen in the first of the semi-finals.

Gurney threw 45 180s across the 16 weeks, although his highest average checkout of 89.44 was one of the lowest in the tournament.

He lost just five times during the event and went on a four-match unbeaten streak between weeks 12 and 15. 

Gurney’s form has dropped off since reaching the final of the Melbourne Masters in mid-August. He failed to make it beyond the last 32 at the World Grand Prix and struggled at both the Grand Slam of Darts and the World Series. Disappointing displays at the Players Championship final and at Alexandra Palace followed, and he’ll be keen to add a little more flair to his game this year.

Gurney was beaten by Glen Durrant in the third round of the World Championship, and he is likely to face stiff competition from the Teessider once again in the Premier League. 

Gurney arguably overachieved at last year’s event and may not hit the same heights this time around. He’ll probably have to settle for a mid-table finish in this year’s competition. However, despite being the outsider, the Derry-born thrower is unlikely to finish bottom of the pile.

Nathan Aspinall

Nathan Aspinall is one of two debutants to feature at this year’s event, and the Stockport-born thrower will be hoping to build upon a hugely promising 2019, which saw him beat Rob Cross in the final of the UK Open.

2019 Premier League

Although the 28-year-old is making his debut at the tournament, he has prior experience of the Premier League. He was selected as one of nine players to feature in a one-off match in 2019 and was drawn against Michael Smith at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. The Asp lost 7-2, recording an average of 88.35.

Aspinall enters 2020 in superb form and will be full of confidence following his appearance in the final four of the World Championships. He was beaten 6-3 by Michael van Gerwen in their semi-final clash but took a number of scalps en-route, including knocking out two-time champion Gary Anderson in the fourth round.

It capped off a tremendous twelve months for the youngster who had also reached the quarter-final of the World Grand Prix and had been victorious at the US Darts Masters in July. 

Aspinall is a lively outsider in this year’s Premier League, and he has improved immeasurably since his disappointing defeat to Michael Smith in March. Although he is inevitably likely to fall short, don’t be surprised if he causes a few upsets along the way.

Glen Durrant

Glen Durrant is another debutant at this year’s event, and the Middlesbrough-born thrower is another player who has also shown significant improvement over the last twelve months.

2019 Premier League

The 49-year old also received a last-minute call-up for last year’s event and was drawn against Daryl Gurney on week two. He lost the game 7-3, yet averaged a hugely impressive 99.89 and gave the Northern Irishman a number of scares throughout the contest.

Duzza has enjoyed a fruitful six months and progressed to the quarter-final stage of the World Championships in December. It was his first appearance at the prestigious tournament, and he managed to eliminate seasoned competitors Chris Dobey and Daryl Gurney prior to coming unstuck against Gerwyn Price.

Earlier in the season, he made it through to the semi-final of the Grand Slam of Darts, the World Grand Prix and the World Matchplay. Notably, he also dispatched world number one Michael van Gerwen in the 2019 Players Championship 15 before eventually going on to clinch the title in Barnsley. 

Alongside fellow newcomer Nathan Aspinall, the north-easterner is likely to cause a few upsets at this year’s event. He seems to take it all in his stride and has a tendency to rise to the big occasions. If there is a player to gatecrash the semi-finals this season, it is likely to be the Teessider.

The Challengers

The nine challengers for the 2020 Premier League Darts have been announced, with John Henderson kicking things off in Aberdeen. History-maker Fallon Sherrock will take to the stage just seven days later in Nottingham and will become the first woman to feature at the tournament.

Johnny Clayton and William O’Connor will get the chance to impress on weeks 3 and 4, while Luke Humphries and Steven Bunting will feature in Exeter and Liverpool, respectively.

Chris Dobey has enjoyed a decent 2019 and will get the chance to shine in Newcastle, while Jeffrey de Zwaan and Jermaine Wattimena complete the line-up and will both be competing on home soil.