2 Apr, 2021
Events

Target has three players competing in the Premier League this year. All three are former finalists in the tournament.

The entire league will be played behind closed doors in Milton Keynes, broken up into four different blocks with consecutive nights of action (5-9, 19-22 April, 5-7, 24-28 May). Fluctuations in form are usually mitigated in "normal" years, where the league is held weekly over a four-month period, but the structure this year will severely punish those who underperform whilst rewarding those who hit the ground running quickly.

Below, we assess our team's chances in what could be the most open Premier League campaign in history.

Glen Durrant

Best: 2020 Champion

Ranking: 12

Odds: 25-1

Opening games: Aspinall, Clayton, Van den Bergh

Never before has a defending champion come into the Premier League at longer odds than "Duzza", with only fellow Target pro Rob Cross rated as a bigger outsider than the three-time Lakeside World Champion. A first major title in PDC darts seemed inevitable, having made a succession of televised semi-finals prior to his success in last year's Premier League. Not only did Durrant win it, but he did so having topped the league phase of the tournament - a feat only previously achieved by Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen.

A covid diagnosis immediately followed, along with a loss of form and confidence, and it is fair to say that we have not seen the real "Duzza" since then but there have been little hints over recent weeks that he may be finding his feet once more.

Durrant enjoyed his underdog status when he first arrived in the PDC two years ago, and he may relish being back in that bracket. Consecutive nights of action could be exactly what he needs to play his way back into top form. He does not face any of the title favourites in his opening three nights, which may give him the platform he needs to mount a strong title defence.

Nathan Aspinall

Best: 2020 Runner-up

Ranking: 10

Odds: 20-1

Opening games: Durrant, Van den Bergh, Price

"The Asp" was one of the hottest properties in world darts 12 months ago when last year's Premier League got underway, and in his debut campaign, Nathan underlined that he belongs amongst the world's elite. His campaign was only ended by Target's Glen Durrant in the final, denying him what would have been a fourth title in 2020.

He has, however, by his own admission, seen his standards slip in the last nine months. The former UK Open Champion has been tinkering with his game to rediscover the form that made him one of the dominant forces in the PDC last year.

A repeat of last year's final against "Duzza" on the opening night should offer a lot more information on how much progress both men have made in recent weeks.

Rob Cross

Best: 2019 Runner-up

Ranking: 5

Odds: 40-1

Opening games: De Sousa, Price, Van Gerwen

Two years ago Rob Cross came within two legs of topping the league phase of this event and was only beaten in the final by Michael van Gerwen (despite averaging more than 100). This year "Voltage" is the longest odds of any of the ten competitors to lift the trophy.

The disappointments of last year were typified in his elimination from the Premier League on Judgement Night, yet his European Championship and World Matchplay victories of 2019 ensured that he was ranked number four in the world at selection time - making him an automatic pick for this year's tournament. Cross does have the ability to be a force this time around (he is outperforming fourth-favourite for the title Gary Anderson on the Pro Tour this year), but he has a lot of work to do to recapture his peak form.

Cross gets his campaign underway with matches against the winners of the Grand Slam, the World Championship and then the Players Championship Finals - if he could emerge with a couple of wins from those ties, he may start to make people question his position as rank outsider for the title.

Event photos © Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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