Possible revamp for 2024 - Premier League Darts

Published on 1 June 2023 at 20:00

Alistair Gordon

The format of the Premier League is always a touchy subject among darts fans. For some, it's one of the highlights of the season, which showcases the best against the best and produces the highest quality darts. For others, it's a vanity project, where the same players play each other every week for four months just so the PDC can rake in some cash.


After years of deliberation, in 2022, the PDC decided the Premier League needed a revamp. In doing this, they cut the number of players from ten to eight and made every night into a knockout format, rather than just a big round robin. Player's league stage points would be earned by their performance in the bracket every night; two points for the semi finalists, three points for the runner-up and five points for the winner. The idea behind this was to make every night competitive, so that the players were actually playing for something and so the crowd weren't subjected to drawn matches or nothing-games. Current player, Devon Peterson is a big fan of the new format, he told Sky Sports' 'Love the darts' podcast, that now "fans are coming to an event with a start and a finish." Despite this, not everyone is happy with the way things are going and after only two campaigns with the new system, there are murmurs of yet another revamp, but why is this?



When the Premier Leagues places are announced, the omissions from the tournament are always as big a talking point as the ones who are in. Due to the long-winded nature of the Premier League, as well as the financial incentives, it must be demoralising for the players who don't make cut, especially those round about the top ten in the rankings. Many would argue that with the plethora of darting talent there is at the moment, the Premier League should be increasing to twelve or sixteen players, not going down to eight.

In this year's edition, Chris Dobey at world number 22 was the surprise inclusion. 'Hollywood' won the Masters in January and beat several fellow Premier League hopefuls on the way to catch the eye of the selectors. The Geordie's inclusion proved to be very controversial, with players such as world number six, Luke Humphries and last year's finalist Joe Cullen feeling understandably aggrieved. For the Premier League to become fairer, surely there has to be more automatic qualification spots on offer, rather than the PDC just picking their favourites.



Another big criticism of the new format is that the same games take place every week. In the past, the draw would be made and everyone would look out for the standout fixtures like Taylor v Van Barneveld, Anderson v Lewis or Taylor v Van Gerwen. This year's World Championship final was between Michael Smith and Michael Van Gerwen, who have faced each other five times in the Premier League. Obviously the punters want to see the best battle it out but five games in a short space time devalues the fixture, otherwise we may as well have a World Cup or Olympics every year. But this isn't the only repetitive aspect of the Premier League.

Every year, there tends to be a 'whipping boy', who is out of form during the competition. The unwanted title this year went to Peter Wright, who was the only player to have zero 'Night's won'. In 2021, it was Glen Durrant who scored no points during the whole league stage. This makes the tournament a lot less entertaining and could seriously knock a player's confidence.



Due to the very nature of the Premier League, it would be impossible to please everyone, no matter what format was applied or how many players were involved. After only two campaigns, surely the PDC will give it another few years before tweaking it again. Whilst I am a fan the new format, more automatic qualification spots have to be up for grabs for it to be taken more seriously. 

Furthermore, in the 2019 and 2020 Premier Leagues, challengers were introduced. These would be players who'd compete on one of the nights that didn't qualify for the tournament itself. This produced some memorable moments such as William O'Connor's walk-on in Dublin and John Henderson's draw with 'MVG' in Aberdeen. As not every venue on the Premier League calendar has a hometown hero, I think reintroducing challengers in some capacity would be beneficial to the Premier League and would certainly lead to a better atmosphere at most venues.


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