Who will win?
For the second year in a row we will see no "normal" Premier League. Due to the ongoing Corona pandemic the Premier League will be played without a crowd again this year and to be sure that was one of the reasons why the PDC will not play the League Days as in the times before Corona once a week on Thursday but pooled them in four blocks. To be sure that's less thrilling and you have to be a real fan to follow on consecutive days the same ten players at the oche.
However the mix of players makes this Premier League especially unpredictable. Rarely did I know before the start of the season as little about the form of the players, there could be some upsets.
This year reigning champion Glen Durrant, last year's runner-up Nathan Aspinall, the World Champion and number 1 of the world Gerwyn Price, the surprise runner-up of the World Championship Gary Anderson, the former World Champions Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross and Peter Wright, the former World Youth Champion and last year's World Matchplay winner Dimitri van den Bergh, this year's Masters winner Jonny Clayton and last year's Grand Slam winner Jose des Sousa will take part.
On paper an illustrious field...
Not nominated were players like James Wade, who won this year's UK Open and plays very consistently or Joe Cullen, who is another one of those players who showed strong performances this year. Not in the field are as well players who played in the Premier League for several years like Daryl Gurney, Michael Smith or Mensur Suljovic who were not invited this year.
To be sure as every year not all darts fans will be happy with the nominated players though the criteria are the same. What changed this time was that the PDC waited till the Masters to nominate the last player - Jonny Clayton.
But what stands out this year is that at least half of the participants are far from their best...
Glen Durrant is not yet fully recovered from Covid and still plays - despite of small signs of getting back to form - most of the time averages of under 90. Rob Cross played with the exception of a few matches at least the complete last year not on top level. Nathan Aspinall was far from his form before the Corona pandemic - might be he just tries too much. And Jose de Sousa was after his Grand Slam victory most of the time - to phrase it cautious - very unobtrusively as was Dimitri van den Bergh.
Michael van Gerwen as well already for some time shows a lack of form and is very often far from deadly on his doubles. He missed out the second Super series and went on holiday instead. Peter Wright won - as did Jonny Clayton and Gerwyn Price - one of the events of the second Super Series, but before his performances varied a lot and he more attracted attention with his verbal skirmish with Michael van Gerwen than with his high level game. Gary Anderson showed to be as often rather inconsistent, was no good during the second Super Series and didn't play it to the end. But of course Anderson is a player who is able off-hand and without a lot of preparation to play at an amazing standard - only remember the last World Championship.
So in the end we have only two , may be two and a half players - who this year so far convinced - Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton-this year's high-flyer- and with reservations Peter Wright.
After what we have seen this year so far a Welsh winner of the Premier League would be most likely and his strongest rival could be a Welsh player as well.
This year's Premier League is some kind of surprise bag and one can only hope for us darts fans that all these weakening players prepared well and will play an appealingly season. Might be the format will help to get the players in form and to jump-start them, so that we'll see a high-class Premier League after all, in which all the players will live up to their potential.
So let's hope they will take us by surprise!