The biggest names in darts are set to toe the oche in Leicester this weekend for the back-to-back Players Championships.
The Premier League regular season concluded in Aberdeen last night and most of the stars from that competition will head south to Leicester to compete for Players Championship glory.
|What||Players Championship 11 & 12|
|Where||Morningside Arena, Leicester|
|When||13:00, Saturday 20th May & Sunday 21st May, 2023|
|How to watch||PDCTV|
|Odds||Gerwyn Price 4/1, Michael van Gerwen 11/2, Michael Smith 11/2, Jonny Clayton 12/1|
The Morningside Arena has not staged a men's event this year, but two women's tournaments took place there in February.
It is home to the basketball team, Leicester Riders, and has a seating capacity of 3,000. Darts fans will remember this venue from when it hosted the 2019 Champions League of Darts.
Michael van Gerwen defeated Peter Wright 11-10 in a thrilling final that year. Wright led 10-7 but missed three match darts, gifting MvG the £100,000 prize.
Peter Wright is not in the field for either Players Championship 11 or 12. The 53-year-old is preferring a lighter schedule these days.
The other Tour card holders who will be absent from Leicester this weekend are Corey Cadby, Adrian Lewis, Mickey Mansell, John O'Shea, Christian Perez and Jeff Smith.
Michael van Gerwen banked a healthy cheque when starring at the Morningside Arena four years ago, but the Dutchman can only pocket £24,000 from his Leicester trip this time.
With £12,000 going to each winner, Van Gerwen would need to win both Players Championship 11 and 12 to leave town with the maximum booty.
It seems unlikely that Van Gerwen will sweep all before him and the 11/2 about the Dutchman may not see many takers.
He lost in the quarter-finals of the European Tour event last Sunday, defeated by Rob Cross, and still seems to be suffering a mental hangover from his World Championship final defeat at the start of the year.
Losing the Alexandra Palace final to Michael Smith was a gutbuster for Van Gerwen and he has not won the World title since 2019.
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The 14/1 about Josh Rock winning Players Championship 11 may appeal to plenty of punters, given he is widely regarded as the most promising youngster in the game.
There are 128 runners going to post for each of these two events – an army of PDC Tour Card Holders and PDPA Associate Members – and not many of them possess the talent of Rock.
The 22-year-old Northern Irishman, known as Rocky, made an excellent World Championship debut at the end of last year, beating Jose Justicia, Callan Rydz and Nathan Aspinall, before losing 4-3 to Jonny Clayton in the fourth round.
Rock reached the semi-finals of a European Tour event earlier this month, defeating Michael Smith in the quarter-finals, so it will probably not be long before this rising star starts filling his mantelpiece with PDC silverware. He had a nine-dart leg in the Grand Slam of Darts last year.
Seven of the eight Premier League players are set to appear in Leicester, with only Peter Wright skipping the gig.
Luke Humphries made the semi-finals of two premier PDC events last year – the Grand Slam of Darts and the Players Championship Finals and has become a regular in the latter stages of the World Championship over the last few years.
He ended last year ranked fifth in the world, but did not make the Premier League eight. Humphries is 20/1 to win Players Championship 11, which could prove a popular punt.
The Berkshire boy, known as Cool Hand Luke, has the scoring power to defeat anyone on the circuit. He throws 180s for fun but can be vulnerable on the outer ring.
If Humphries has a good weekend on his doubles, there is every chance the Newbury-based thrower could run a couple of big races in Leicester.
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