Raymond van Barneveld will make his 14th consecutive Premier League appearance in 2019 ahead of his impending retirement, whilst former champion James Wade makes his return to the fold after the ten-player field was confirmed on Tuesday evening.
Darts’ widest-reaching tournament will see 17 nights of action held from February-May, as players compete for spots in the Play-Offs to battle for the prestigious title. The tournament will return to Berlin after last year’s success, whilst the roadshow will also feature another double-header in Rotterdam.
2014 champion Raymond van Barneveld will feature in his final Premier League campaign after receiving one of the six wildcard invitations for the event. The five-time world champion has made the play-offs on eight previous occasions and will usurp Phil Taylor’s previous record of 13 consecutive Premier League appearances.
The Dutchman enjoyed a strong start to 2018, reaching the Masters final, finishing sixth in the Premier League and winning a fourth World Cup of Darts title in June, but he’s endured some testing times away from the oche which has impacted his results in recent months. Nevertheless, Barney now has the opportunity to sign off in style in 2019.
Elsewhere, 2009 champion James Wade returns to compete for a tenth season in the Premier League, having won the European Championship and World Series of Darts Finals during 2018. ‘The Machine’ had endured a four-year drought without a major TV title, but he’s regained his spot in the world’s top ten following an impressive revival.
Newly crowned world champion Michael van Gerwen will begin his bid for a fourth consecutive Premier League crown when the tournament gets underway at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on February 7th. The three-time world champion has topped the league phase in each of the last six years, as he bids for title number five in 2019.
Four-time Premier League champion Van Gerwen, 2018 world champion Rob Cross, former UK Open winner Peter Wright and two-time world champion Gary Anderson all qualified automatically as they occupy the top four spots on the PDC Order of Merit.
Players Championship Finals winner Daryl Gurney, Grand Slam of Darts champion Gerwyn Price and German Masters winner Mensur Suljovic all return for a second year, having made their Premier League debuts in 2018. Suljovic and Price were eliminated on Judgement Night twelve months ago, therefore they’ll be determined to make amends.
Meanwhile, last year’s finalist and World Championship runner-up Michael Smith is set to make his third Premier League appearance this year. ‘Bully Boy’ was eliminated on his debut in 2016, but he enjoyed a memorable return last year- finishing in second position before losing to an irrepressible Van Gerwen in the final.
Following the tournament’s opening night in Newcastle on February 7, the Premier League visits Glasgow, Dublin, Exeter, Aberdeen, Nottingham and Berlin before a double-header in Rotterdam on March 27th-28th.
The bottom two players in the league table will be eliminated after Judgement Night in Rotterdam, with the race to claim Play-Off places continuing in Belfast, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. The top four players then progress to compete in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 23rd.
Photo Credit: Photosport
2019 Unibet Premier League Field
Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld