Three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant will make his Premier League Darts debut in 2020, whilst UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall will also make his bow in the sport’s biggest roadshow after the nine-player field was confirmed on Wednesday 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 also feature nine ‘Challengers’ due to the popularity of last year’s format.
Nine players were invited to compete as ‘Contenders’ in 2019 following Gary Anderson’s withdrawal and the format will return in 2020, with a mixture of local favourites and rising stars competing under the re-branded ‘Challengers’ banner for the first nine weeks of the competition.
Points won by Challengers will not count towards the league table, although their opponents will retain any points gained from the matches. PDC Chairman Barry Hearn confirmed that the additional nine participants will be revealed within the coming week.
However, Durrant and Aspinall are the sole debutants featuring in next year’s tournament following their impressive displays in 2019. ‘Duzza’ crossed the darting divide to join the PDC in January and has made an immediate impression, climbing to 22nd on the Order of Merit.
The Teessider scooped two Pro Tour titles and has been the epitome of consistency in major televised events – appearing in semi-finals at the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Grand Slam of Darts, beating a host of established stars in the process.
Aspinall featured in last year’s Premier League as a ‘Contender’ in Nottingham, although ‘The Asp’ will be a permanent fixture in 2020 having broken into the world’s top ten, whilst also claiming two televised titles in the process.
The Stockport star made his breakthrough with a run to the semi-finals at the 2019 World Championship, before winning UK Open and US Masters titles. This has been book-ended by a second consecutive semi-final appearance at Ally Pally, which catapulted him into the world’s top eight.
Three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen will begin his bid for a fifth consecutive Premier League crown when the tournament gets underway in Aberdeen on February 6th. The world No 1 has topped the league phase in each of the last seven years and is aiming for title number six in 2020.
Van Gerwen, newly crowned World Champion Peter Wright, Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price and last year’s Premier League runner-up Rob Cross all qualified automatically as they occupy the top four spots on the PDC Order of Merit.
Two-time Premier League champion Gary Anderson returns to the fold after he was forced to withdraw last year due to his persistent back injury and he’ll be joined by former finalist Michael Smith and two-time major winner Daryl Gurney, who is making his third successive appearance.
This will be the first Premier League campaign in history that does not feature either of Phil Taylor or Raymond van Barneveld, after the doyen of Dutch darts retired following his first-round exit at Alexandra Palace.
Elsewhere, James Wade and Mensur Suljovic also miss out having competed in last year’s event. Nine-time major winner Wade reached the semi-finals 12 months ago but has not gone beyond the quarter-finals of a televised ranking major in 2019.
Suljovic has also struggled for consistency during the latter stages of the season and has relinquished his spot in the world’s top 10. The Austrian’s disappointing campaign culminated in a shock second-round exit at the World Championship against Fallon Sherrock.
Following the tournament’s opening night on February 6 in Aberdeen, the Premier League visits Nottingham, Cardiff, Dublin, Exeter, Liverpool and Newcastle, before a double-header in Rotterdam on March 25 and March 26.
The player sat bottom of the league table will be eliminated after Judgement Night in Rotterdam before the race to claim a play-off place takes precedence. The top four players then progress to compete in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 21st.
The PDC have also confirmed the first two ‘Challengers’ for 2020. John Henderson will return to Aberdeen following his memorable appearance 12 months ago, whilst ‘Queen of the Palace’ Fallon Sherrock will headline Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on February 13.
2020 Unibet Premier League Field
Michael van Gerwen