Premier League Darts 2014: Liverpool Dates, Fixtures and Participants

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: Michael Van Gerwen of Holland celebrates winning The Final against Phill Taylor of England during the McCoy's Premier League Darts Play-Offs at The O2 Arena on May 16, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

It is one of the most exciting events in the whole of darts, as the 10 best players in the world get ready to kick-off the Premier League series.

Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor will ignite the tournament as this year's first gigantic battle, held at the huge Liverpool Echo Arena on Thursday, February 6. 

The match is a repeat of last year's final, where van Gerwen took his first Premier League crown, defeating the six-time champion Taylor after a stunning comeback, per Sunni Upal of the Mail Online.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: Phill Taylor of England in action during his semi final match against Raymond Van Barneveld of Holland during the McCoy's Premier League Darts Play-Offs at The O2 Arena on May 16, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhu
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

New World Champion van Gerwen came from 5-2 down to win 10-8 against the legendary veteran.  

The first nine league nights in this year's epic season will see the 10 players face each other once each before the bottom two players are eliminated after "Judgement Night," to be held in Cardiff.

The remaining eight players will then meet once more in the final six weeks of matches, before the top four players progress to compete in the play-offs, to be held at London's prestigious O2 Arena, on Thursday, May 22.

In Liverpool, there will be five great fixtures to get the league under way, with van Gerwen v Taylor as the headline act. 

St Helen's Dave Chisnall, the world No. 5, makes his first ever appearance to play former UK Open champion Robert Thornton. After this, the Premier League's other newcomer, World Championship finalist Peter Wright, takes on Wes Newton.

The Premier League's champion from 2011, Gary Anderson, then plays Raymond van Barneveld before van Gerwen's title defence begins against The Power.

The meeting of former finalists Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis concludes the opening night of matches.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: Michael Van Gerwen of Holland celebrates with the trophy after winning The Final against Phill Taylor of England during the McCoy's Premier League Darts Play-Offs at The O2 Arena on May 16, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Char
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Premier League then travels to Bournemouth's BIC for Week 2, with a Stoke-on-Trent derby match with Taylor meeting Lewis, while van Gerwen plays Thornton, Anderson takes on Whitlock, Newton faces off against former World Champion van Barneveld and newcomers Chisnall and Wright take the oche.

Week 3 sees the Premier League explode into action at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, with the night opening with a Celtic clash between Thornton and Anderson, before van Gerwen plays Chisnall, Taylor battles Wright, Newton faces Lewis and van Barneveld takes on Whitlock.

The Hydro in Glasgow then plays Premier League Darts hosts for the first time in Week 4, with the three Scots in action on home territory as Wright opens against Lewis, Thornton takes on Newton and Anderson plays Chisnall.

Their home support is bound to be immense and vocal. A rapturous crowd awaits them. 

Also in Glasgow we will see Taylor and Whitlock meet in a repeat of the 2012 Premier League Darts final, while van Gerwen takes on van Barneveld in an all-Dutch battle.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20:  Raymond Van Barneveld of Holland celebrates after winning his second round match against Jamie Caven of England during the World Darts Championship on Day Eight at Alexandra Palace on December 20, 2013 in Lond
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

This a repeat of their 2012 Grand Slam of Darts decider.

Exeter's Westpoint Arena is the next stop for Week 5, with Taylor facing Somerset-based Anderson, while van Gerwen and Lewis meet in a rematch of their recent World Championship semi-final, when the Dutchman crushed his opponent 6-0.

The other games in Exeter see van Barneveld take on Chisnall, Wright play Thornton and Newton v Whitlock, who won the 2012 European Championship final between the pair.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Gary Anderson of Scotland in action during his third round match against Michael van Gerwen of Holland on day thirteen of the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace on December 28, 2013 in London, England
Harry Engels/Getty Images

Nottingham's Capital FM Arena hosts the Week 6 battles, which is headlined by the repeat of the 2013 World Grand Prix final between Taylor and Chisnall and Anderson's clash with Lewis in a replay of the 2011 Premier League Darts final.

Week 7 is hosted by Leeds' First Direct Arena, Week 8 sees the league travel to The O2 in Dublin, Ireland, and Week 9 sees "Judgement Night" held in Cardiff, where the elimination of players begins in earnest. 

As a point of interest, this year's championship sees the introduction of a new "High Definition" darts board, as tweeted by makers Unicorn: 

Unicorn Managing Director Edward Lowy said about the new Eclipse HD board, on the maker's website:

It is unique. The board has been a success on the tour. The players, the viewers and the thousands packing all the venues will enjoy a new experience during the Premier League. The clarity on the Unicorn Eclipse HD board is remarkable. For over 70 years we have brought innovation to every aspect of the game and we will strive to carry on raising the bar.

Van Gerwen and Taylor are undoubtedly the overwhelming favourites for the League Championship this season, and it is even-money as to who will win.

But there has been a changing of the guard in darts in recent months with van Gerwen driving forward to become the dominant force in the game.

Taylor will still feel he can very much win this tournament, but I feel that this is the younger man's time.

He has showed he has the resolve to overcome Taylor, who has intimidated opponents into submission on many occasions.

Could a veteran like van Barneveld nip in and steal the title? It is possible, but highly unlikely.

The Dutch master has the stamina to outlast players above him in the rankings, but outside of the top two it would be something of a shock to see any other players reach the final. 

So van Gerwen v Taylor part two looks very much on the cards.


Week One

February 6, Echo Arena, Liverpool

Dave Chisnall v Robert Thornton
Peter Wright v Wes Newton
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen
Simon Whitlock v Adrian Lewis