Our resident Darts tipster Steve Davies believes value can be found in 4/1 shot Peter Wright claiming Premier League glory on night one of this year's competition.
It's the first staging post on a 17-night, four-month trek around Britain and Europe during which the eight will finally be whittled down to the four stars who will head to the O2 in London on 25th May for the playoffs.
First things first, and to Belfast and the SSE Arena where a packed house will be treated to a World Championship final rematch between Michael's Smith and Van Gerwen.
Racing Post darts tipster Steve Davies has a tip for that showdown and shares his thoughts on the rest of what should be a thrilling opening night.
|What||Premier League Darts, Week 1|
|Where||SSE Arena, Belfast|
|When||19:00, Thursday 2nd February, 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports|
|Odds||Night Winner in Week 1: Michael van Gerwen 5/2, Peter Wright 4/1, Gerwyn Price 4/1, Michael Smith 5/1, Jonny Clayton 8/1, Dimitri van den Bergh 10/1, Nathan Aspinall 14/1, Chris Dobey 18/1|
Premier League 2023 follows the same format as last year with the eight players taking part in a mini-tournament each week.
Players get points depending on how well they do – five for winning on the night, three for the runner-up, two for the losing semi-finalists – and after 16 nights the top four points scorers go into the playoffs.
Michael van Gerwen is 5/2 to take the five points – and £10,000 nightly winner's cheque – at the SSE Arena.
Yet his draw isn't the easiest and Peter Wright at 4/1 looks better value.
Mighty Mike is throwing second in his opening match, a repeat of the world final against Michael Smith, and would be throwing second again should he beat Bully Boy, against the winner of the first match between Dimitri van den Bergh and Jonny Clayton.
Clearly, van Gerwen can beat anyone, with or without the darts, and if he brings his Ally Pally form – five ton-plus averages in his six matches – then he is still, whatever the rankings might say, the best player in the world.
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But it is a tough draw for the Dutchman who doesn't mop up titles as liberally as he once did and with Smith and van Gerwen towering over the top half of the opening night's draw bracket, the bottom half might be a preferred destination for a bet.
And of the quartet it's Snakebite who does look to have a rock-solid claim.
Wright ended last year under a cloud, with off-oche issues affecting his on-oche numbers, and Ally Pally was a nightmare.
But he has come out swinging in 2023, beating van Gerwen, Smith and Gerwyn Price to win the Nordic Masters.
In Belfast, he is drawn 'at home' to Sunday's Masters winner Chris Dobey, a debutant for whom this is all a completely new experience. And if – as he should – Wright wins that, he has the darts against either Nathan Aspinall or Price in the last four as the home player.
It's interesting that Snakey is fifth on the draw bracket, just as he was on the opening night of the 2022 Premier League when he beat Smith, Gary Anderson and Clayton to take the five points.
Of the four first-round ties at the SSE Arena, Wright is the only player with the darts who is odds-on, trading at 4/9.
Wright averaged around 100 in three matches at the Masters, succumbing in the semis to Rob Cross who in turn lost to Dobey in the final. But this is new territory for Hollywood and the Scot can win this well. Back him on the handicap -2.5 – so winning 6-3 or better – at 11/8.
The opening tie of the night pits Dimitri van den Bergh against Clayton and, statistically at least, the Welshman looks worth backing at 8/11.
It's a repeat of their world championship quarter-final which the Belgian won 5-3, though since then van den Bergh has thrown average darts in Bahrain and on Friday night at The Masters when he lost his only game to Anderson.
Smith versus Van Gerwen is the game of the night with the Dutchman a 4/6 shot despite, of course, losing to Bully Boy exactly a month ago in the world final in London.
Smith has to be the value at 6/5 – remember, he throws first, as well – and the same can be said of Nathan Aspinall, who toes the oche against Gerwyn Price.
The Asp reached two major finals in 2022 and while his inclusion in the field is a surprise to many, he can amply prove his worth by winning his opener at 6/4.