Two debutantes will embark on their Premier League journey this Thursday. Kim Huybrechts and Stephen Bunting are two out of the ten players that will compete each week in the most high octane arena known to darts.
The Premier League is a hugely intense and lengthy competition. It will run from the 5th of February all the way to playoff night on the 21st of May. Players will also be taking part in floor events between the games. Add that to the amount of travelling required to reach the venues all over the UK, it surely makes an exhausting process.
The competition is incredibly fierce. Every leg matters. Relegation and qualification can easily go down to leg difference. The competition can be too much for some players, leaving them at the bottom of the table bereft of any chance of qualification, just waiting to be relegated whilst still enduring humiliation week on week as they receive significant drubbings. Each year it seems that at least one player struggles, only managing to cling onto one or two points – Jelle Klaasen in 2009, Terry Jenkins in 2010, Mark Webster in 2011, Kevin Painter in 2012 and Wes Newton in 2013 and 2014.
This year looks to be the toughest yet. The two debutantes must be at the top of their game from week one or they’ll find themselves quickly cast aside. There’ll be no easy games. All of the five previous winners are taking part – Taylor, Wade, Anderson, van Gerwen and last years winner van Barneveld. Then you’ve got two times World Champ Adrian Lewis, World number 5 Peter Wright and the cataclysmic scoring of Dave Chisnall. Stephen Bunting and Kim Huybrechts are clearly good players, but they wouldn’t have experienced the challenge of facing such an outstanding field of players week in week out. They can’t take it easy one week, they have to be in top gear throughout. It would be an outstanding effort if one of them can drag themselves into the playoffs but, as much as I would like to see a few upsets, it’s unlikely, as I don’t think either of them have the stamina to play well over such a long period of time.
As brutal as the Premier League sounds, it’s the most action packed darts competition by far. Quick fire quality matches sandwiched with dramatic montages, cinematic graphics and walk on girls. It epitomises what the game of darts has become in recent years. Every top player wants to be involved and the players reactions on twitter show this quite clearly.
The first round of matches takes place in Leeds this Thursday. The players that competed in the Masters have the advantage of match fitness, but for the likes of Bunting and Huybrechts, they’re likely to be a little rusty, making their life a little harder. I wish them both the best of luck, they’re going to need it.