“Mighty Mike” is back and hungry. Just a short time after going out of the World Championship at the Semi-Final stage to Rob Cross (who went on to become Champion), the Dutch Darting genius Michael van Gerwen was at his very best once again this past weekend when he defeated compatriot Raymond van Barneveld to win the Unibet Masters on Sunday with a stunning come-from-behind victory.

The win was van Gerwen’s fourth Master’s title in a row and set him up nicely for the start of the Premier League Darts, which he has won for the past two years and three times in total (2013, 2016 and 2017).

In an exciting final, which van Barneveld pushed his opponent hard, van Gerwen came from 4-1 and 8-5 down in legs, rattling off six legs in a row at the end of the game to claim an 11-8 victory and perhaps most impressively, posted an average of over 105 in the final itself.

The champion was happy with his performance.

“I had a big disappointment in the World Championship, but you need to be strong. I went on holiday and came back stronger and I’m really proud of myself.

“I think this is the perfect start to the year. I played a good tournament and hit some big averages against some great players,” he added.

PDC Premier League Darts – Thu 1st Feb

Now all eyes in the Darts world will turn their attention to Dublin on Thursday night where van Gerwen begins his defence of the PDC Premier League Darts title with a mouthwatering opening match against current World Champion, Rob Cross.

After his superb victory in the Unibet Masters at the weekend, Van Gerwen’s odds on winning the Premier League are now an incredibly short 8/11 with Coral, which emphasises just how much the Dutchman is dominating the big events in darts these days. So, who out of the nine other players stands the best chance of beating him?

Here’s what the bookies think:

  • Rob Cross 7/2

The former electrician enjoyed an incredible rise to prominence in 2017, when he began the year as an unheralded amateur and ended it as the PDC World Darts Champion. He beat van Gerwen on the way towards winning the world title in an epic semi-final. Can Cross sustain that form over 16 weeks of Premier League action in what will be his first ever entry into the event? His opening night clash with van Gerwen is surely the game to watch on Thursday.

  • Gary Anderson 11/2

Given Anderson is a two-time Premier League Champion and two-time World Champion and he is arguably the only player in the game with as much natural talent as van Gerwen, his odds are rather long. That could well be down to Anderson’s back issues which troubled him at the World Championship and which are still giving him problems now. That is not great heading into a busy 16-week period of games.

  • Peter Wright 8/1

Wright, like Anderson, suffered a health scare prior to the World Championships which meant he was under par for the event and although he has had rest heading into the Premier League, he is still perhaps not at his very best. Wright will find his best form at some point though and he has the consistency to be a real contender in this tournament.

  • Daryl Gurney 40/1

The Irishman made a significant breakthrough last year winning a televised major on home soil in Dublin and propelling him up the rankings to fourth in the world at one point. On his day, Gurney can beat anybody, but in what will be his first ever PDC Premier League campaign, will the Irishman be able to produce the goods week in, week out to challenge the very best?

  • Raymond van Barneveld 40/1

Barney has won this event once before and in reaching the final of the Unibet Masters this weekend, he showed that his game is in great shape. I think he is the outstanding value bet of the event at 40/1 and well worthy of an each way punt as on the night, Barney is capable of beating any player in the world, by any scoreline.

  • Michael Smith 50/1

This is Bully’s second attempt to win the PDC Premier League crown after a less than stellar first performance in the event two years ago. After a year off, Smith has been invited back to showcase his talent. An immensely talented player but one who is prone to having some serious lapses in form and concentration at times and he is yet to prove he has the consistency to thrive in this longer-form event.

  • Mensur Suljovic 50/1

Another strong performance by Mensur Suljovic saw him reach the semis of the Unibet Masters at the weekend, defeating World Champion Rob Cross on the way. The likeable Austrian may not be everyone’s cup of team with the way he plays the game but he is immensely likeable and will draw plenty of support from fans across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany, which may well inspire him to perform better than expected.

  • Gerwyn Price 100/1

Welshman price is another first time debutant in this event along with Gurney, Suljovic and Cross and while his form over the past 12-18 months has been significantly improved, he is still to win a major event and in my view, he is not quite on a par with some of the big names in this event. His match with Gary Anderson on Week 2 of the Premier League should be one to watch as there is plenty of needle between the two.

  • Simon Whitlock 200/1

There was a time when Whitlock was considered to be the second-best player in the world, but a lack of form really hit him hard for a couple of years. He bounced back well in 2017 but is still a little off the quality that saw him reach the final of this event in 2012 (when he lost to Phil Taylor 10-7). On his day, Whitlock is much better than his 200/1 odds suggest however.

The Fixtures for Week 1Bet365 Darts Grand SLam 2015

The first set of fixtures in the Premier League will take place at the 3Arena in Dublin on Thursday 1st February, live on Sky Sports from 7pm GMT. The matches are all best of 12 games with the first player to win seven legs the winner. Matches can finish in a 6-6 draw however. The matches scheduled for Thursday night are as follows:

  • 15pm – Mensur Suljovic (10/11) v Simon Whilock (21/10) – 10/3 the draw
  • 50pm – Gary Anderson (8/13) v Michael Smith (3/1) – 4/1 the draw
  • 30pm – Daryl Gurney (13/8) v Raymond van Barneveld (5/4) – 3/1 the draw
  • 10pm – Michael van Gerwen (8/13) v Rob Cross (3/1) – 4/1 the draw
  • 50pm – Peter Wright (8/13) v Gerwyn Price (3/1) – 4/1 the draw

My PDC Premier League Acca

If you fancy a little flutter on the Premier League darts, then why not back this fivefold accumulator:

  • Mensur Suljovic – to win (10/11)
  • Gary Anderson v Michael Smith – Draw (4/1)
  • Raymond van Barneveld – to win (5/4)
  • Michael van Gerwen – to win (8/13)
  • Peter Wright – to win (8/13)

A £10 bet on this would return £560.40 in winnings with Coral Sport.