Darts guru Ben Levene (@benlevene96) looks ahead to the Premier League of Darts, one of the year's showcase events.
Premier League Darts| 1st February – 17 May 2018| Sky Sports
The Premier League of Darts returns for its 2018 edition this week with a fresh line-up. As is the case with most darts preview’s, I’ll start by writing that Michael Van Gerwen is the reigning champion, having won this event on three occasions, including each of the last two years. He’s actually reached the final in five consecutive years, which is pretty impressive going, and is odds-on to retain his title.
Worried for Whitlock
However, I want to turn our attention to the other end of the table and delve into the relegation market. Simon Whitlock is 4/5 to be eliminated in judgement night, and for me this is where the outright value lies.
Firstly, the Whizard’s selection alone was questionable, since his run to the Final of the Grand Prix, he’s averaged under 95 in nine of 13 matches on TV. His highest average in that period was 97.70. Whitlock seemed to struggle with expectation at the World’s, were he was less than convincing in beating Martin Schindler, and then lost to Darren Webster 4-1. Last Saturday, he was beaten 10-8 by James Wade on ITV, a player he was himself deemed not good enough for the Premier League this year.
Whitlock is a fighter but I worry about his ability to match the power scoring that will be on show at this elite level. He’s lost 10 of his last 11 TV matches against the 2018 Premier League crop, with the exception coming in a 4-3 win against Mensur Suljovic at the Grand Prix, a tournament which takes a different format.
For what it’s worth, he last competed in the Premier League in 2014, when he finished bottom and was subsequently relegated. Two of the ten-man field are eliminated after nine-games, and we can take the 4/5 about Whitlock being one of those.
Premier League Darts – Simon Whitlock to be relegated (4/5 Sporting Bet)