Nine new names will replace the injured Gary Anderson in the opening nine nights of the 2019 Unibet Premier League.
Two-time Premier League champion Anderson has been forced to withdraw from this year’s competition due to an ongoing back injury and as a result, nine ‘contenders’ made up of future stars and local favourites will make their Premier League debuts in darts’ ultimate roadshow.
Three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant, who won his PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School last month, will feature in Glasgow when he takes on two-time PDC major winner Daryl Gurney, whilst back-to-back World Youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh will make his Premier League debut in Rotterdam against nine-time major winner James Wade.
Among the other contenders are a trio of young players who impressed at Alexandra Palace in the 2018/19 World Darts Championship, in the shape of Nathan Aspinall, Chris Dobey and Luke Humphries.
Aspinall will take on Michael Smith in Nottingham in a repeat of their World Championship semi-final, while hometown hero Dobey makes his Premier League bow against Mensur Suljovic in Newcastle on the opening night. Elsewhere, Ally Pally quarter-finalist Humphries kicks off night four in Exeter against Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price.
Former World Youth champion Max Hopp will receive an incredible reception in Berlin when he locks horns with five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, whilst Scottish favourite John Henderson takes on world number one Michael van Gerwen in Aberdeen.
As Raymond van Barneveld waves farewell to his army of fans on the second of two nights in Rotterdam, a new Dutch star will be born as World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan plays former world champion Rob Cross in front of the sea of orange. Elsewhere, emerging Irish star Steve Lennon appears on home soil in Dublin against world number three Peter Wright.
“First of all everyone at the PDC would like to wish Gary Anderson a speedy recovery back to full fitness as soon as possible,” said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.
“Gary’s withdrawal has opened up an incredibly exciting opportunity for the nine contenders to go out and show what they’ve got on some of the biggest stages in world darts.
The young players who impressed at Alexandra Palace have already shown they can cut it in darts’ biggest ever tournament, while rising stars Max Hopp and Dimitri Van den Bergh have been shining lights in the growth of the sport in recent years.
“The local favourites have earned their chance to entertain the crowds and TV viewers, with every one of them will bringing something different to the Premier League party in 2019, and I’m sure they’ll cause a few shocks along the way.
“The PDC has always been about giving opportunities to players and we felt this was the perfect chance to do something revolutionary, as we now look forward to an exciting year of Premier League Darts ahead in 2019.”
Points won by the nine contenders will not count towards the Premier league table, however their opponents will retain any points gained from the matches. Nevertheless, the contenders will receive financial bonuses for winning or drawing their matches.
Following the opening nine nights of fixtures, the player placed ninth on the Premier League table following Judgement Night in Rotterdam will be eliminated from the competition, with the remaining eight players battling it out over the next seven weeks in the race for the Play-Offs at London’s O2. The revised fixtures can be viewed below.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2019 Unibet Premier League Fixtures:
Night One – Thursday February 7
Utilita Arena, Newcastle
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Gerwyn Price v Daryl Gurney
Chris Dobey v Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith
Peter Wright v Rob Cross
Night Two – Thursday February 14
The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Peter Wright v Michael Smith
Rob Cross v James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld v Gerwyn Price
Daryl Gurney v Glen Durrant
Mensur Suljovic v Michael van Gerwen
Night Three – Thursday February 21
Gerwyn Price v James Wade
Steve Lennon v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney
Mensur Suljovic v Raymond van Barneveld
Night Four – Thursday February 28
Luke Humphries v Gerwyn Price
Daryl Gurney v Rob Cross
Mensur Suljovic v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Michael Smith v Raymond van Barneveld
Night Five – Thursday March 7
The BHGE Arena, Aberdeen
Michael Smith v Rob Cross
Daryl Gurney v James Wade
Mensur Suljovic v Gerwyn Price
Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v John Henderson
Night Six – Thursday March 14
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Nathan Aspinall v Michael Smith
James Wade v Mensur Suljovic
Rob Cross v Raymond van Barneveld
Gerwyn Price v Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright v Daryl Gurney
Night Seven – Thursday March 21
Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin
Gerwyn Price v Rob Cross
James Wade v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith v Mensur Suljovic
Max Hopp v Raymond van Barneveld
Night Eight – Wednesday March 27
Gerwyn Price v Michael Smith
James Wade v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Rob Cross v Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld v Daryl Gurney
Judgement Night – Thursday March 28
Daryl Gurney v Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen
James Wade v Michael Smith