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Darts: All change for flagship Premier League event

Premier League Darts is back – but it looks a whole lot different to previous years!

It's the first major makeover in the 17-year history of the PDC's flagship invitational event, and it's a radical one.

Where there were ten players before, Premier League Darts 2022 features just eight. And gone is the round-robin element as well, replaced instead by 16 stand-alone mini-knockouts, each featuring four quarter-finals, two semis and a final, all over the best-of-11 legs.

Points are awarded for each of the events – two for the losing semi-finalists, three for the runner-up, five for the winner – and by the end of Night 16, the top four points scorers will head off to the playoffs, the date of which has yet to be finalised.

World No.1 Price aiming to end woeful record

The fun and games start at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena where Gerwyn Price will be among friends – yet this is not a tournament he has particularly fond memories of.

Price, 3/1 to win Premier League Darts 2022, heads a field which also features five-time winner Michael van Gerwen, newly-crowned world champ Peter Wright and defending champion Jonny Clayton.

Former winners Gary Anderson and James Wade have made the cut as has world finalist Michael Smith. Joe Cullen nicked the eighth and final spot after winning The Masters on Sunday.

As for Price, he finished bottom without a win during his first Premier League appearance in 2018, failed to make the playoffs in the two subsequent campaigns and dropped out last year, so he will feel this is now his time.

Will the Green Machine leave his backers feeling blue once again?

Van Gerwen goes to post a 4/1 shot – he's never been anything like that sort of price going into an event he has won five times in the last nine years.

But he's easy to back this year following a dreadful 2021 (by his sky-high standards) in which he had to wait until September for his first win and only managed one more floor title after that.

He also struggled for fluency at last week's Masters, pipping Luke Humphries in a decider before succumbing to Cullen in the last eight.

Wright didn't even get that far. The Scot – a 7/2 shot to win the Premier League for a first time – lost to Simon Whitlock in his first match of the year at Milton Keynes, though after the effort he put in over Christmas and the New Year at Alexandra Palace no one deserved a break more than him.

Clayton might not have won PDC player of the year honours – that went to Wright – but he had a 2021 to remember, winning four TV titles, including this one, and at 9/2 the super-consistent Welshman will have his backers.

Smith on a mission after 2021 snub

It's 13/2 with Smith next on the sheet and this is a man playing well and on a mission.

Bully Boy was gutted when he was overlooked for last year's Premier League and has spent the last 12 months determined to get back in the field. Reaching the world final on the back of a string of outstanding performances – he beat both Clayton and Price at Ally Pally – he has also rose to No.5 in the world and left organisers in no doubt that he was worth an invite this time round.

He is also 9/4 to land most tournament 180s and given his record-breaking assault on the treble-20 bed at the worlds, he's got to appeal in that market.

It's fascinating that Van Gerwen is 12/1 in the same market, behind six of his rivals. How the mighty fall!

Cullen is the only debutant in the field and gets an 11/1 outright quote followed by the old stagers and world championship semi-finalists, Anderson and Wade. Each has won it before – Anderson twice – and the Scot is quoted at 16/1,Wade at 20/1.

World final repeat kicks off Premier League Darts 2022

Night one takes the eight Premier League stars to Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena where home heroes Price and Clayton will be guaranteed the warmest of welcomes.

Tie of the night, however, should be the quarter-final shootout between Wright and Smith in a repeat of last month's world final which Bully Boy should have won, but Snakebite did.

At this early stage of the season, it's hard to know who's going to trap best of all, though the evidence from The Masters over the weekend is that Wright may just have had more time off than most. Smith at 11/10 might appeal.

The winner of that tie will play either Van Gerwen or Anderson in the second semi-final – the Dutchman's a 4/9 shot.

Price is 2/5 to see off Wade which, no matter how one-sided this might seem, is surely too skinny a price. But if the prices do stack up then Price will meet pal Clayton in the first semi, because The Ferret is rated an 8/13 chance against Cullen.

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