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Premier League Darts: Can Chris Dobey deliver Premier League glory?

Chris Dobey's selection for this year's Premier League field may have raised a few eyebrows, but 'Hollywood' more than proved his worth by landing the honours on the opening night in Belfast.

Now, of course, comes the hard part by demonstrating that he is no flash in the pan and that he can continue to be a contender, beginning in Cardiff next Thursday.

WhatPremier League Darts 2023
WhereVenues in GB and Europe
WhenThursday 2nd February - Thursday 25th May 2023
How to watchSky Sports
OddsMichael van Gerwen 9/5, Michael Smith 7/2, Gerwyn Price 5/1, Peter Wright11/2, Jonny Clayton 12/1, Chris Dobey 14/1

Dobey silences critics with Belfast triumph

Dobey was a man under the most enormous pressure when he set foot on the stage at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Thursday evening.

He had doubtless read the opinions from darts fans and some current players that given a world ranking of 21, he simply hadn't deserved his invitation into the elite eight-man event, despite his recent title triumph at The Masters.

Many were adamant that 'Hollywood' had nicked a spot which should have gone to someone like Luke Humphries, Danny Noppert or Rob Cross.

It meant Dobey, naturally an outsider on Night One in Northern Ireland, was under scrutiny.

And under that most intense of scrutiny, the 32-year-old delivered, beating Peter Wright, Nathan Aspinall and Michael van Gerwen to pocket the £10,000 nightly winner's cheque and, critically, five precious points in the race to be in the top four at the end of the regular season in May.

What was even more impressive was a nerveless 160 checkout in the decisive 11th and final leg against Van Gerwen.

"I think I've proved a few people wrong tonight," brayed Dobey, after landing that roof-raising checkout to seal his 6-5 final triumph over the six-time Premier League champion.

MvG still the man to beat after final run

Dobey's fast start hasn't exactly reshaped this year's Premier League book, 9/5 Van Gerwen is still favourite and Dobey is still relatively unfancied, though he has come in to 14/1. He's also been slashed to 13/8 to make the semi-finals.

But he, in his own words, has proved that he belongs and, in fairness, punters may not be hugely surprised by what the Geordie pulled off in Belfast on Thursday night.

Of all the eight players, after all, he was the most recent tournament winner heading to Northern Ireland, having won the Masters five days earlier.

In the space of three days he toppled Joe Cullen, Luke Humphries, Dirk van Duijvenbode, world champion Michael Smith and former champ Cross in the final.

That in turn followed a fine World Championship, where the highlights were wins over Gary Anderson and Cross before he ran into an inspired and destructive Van Gerwen in the quarter-finals.

Masters a useful marker for Premier League joy

It's also worth pointing out that Masters winners have a good recent record in the Premier League.

Twelve months ago Joe Cullen's invitation wasn't exactly met with unanimous approval despite him winning the Masters. A few months later he had proved all doubters wrong by reaching the Premier League final.

A year earlier it was Jonny Clayton who won the Masters to earn his first tilt at the Premier League and he went and won the whole thing.

Dobey will still do well to make the top four.

He's up against a formidable unit of opponents, all vastly more experienced than him on the Premier League stage, and it will be interesting to see how a player who had only ever collected a couple of minor floor titles before his current purple patch copes when things start to go against him.

'Hollywood' braced for warm welcome in the valleys

Now it's all eyes on Cardiff and whether Dobey can back up his opening-night success. It's worth remembering that Peter Wright won in Week One last year and didn't win again, missing out on the play-offs by two points.

It's a tricky task for Dobey given that his first game is against home favourite Gerwyn Price - and given the flak English fans give Gezzy rest assured the Cardiff faithful will make it super-hot for Dobey.

That said, Price looked flat in Belfast as he lost to Aspinall and there may well be a few punters who reckon Dobey, whose confidence has got to be through the roof, is worth an interest at 13/8.

Should he defy the odds against the Iceman it would be Van Gerwen or Dimitri Van den Bergh in the semis. It doesn't get any easier.

Right now though, Dobey feels he's bang in a tournament he absolutely deserves to be a part of and those critics who felt he hadn't earned the right might be swallowing their words.

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