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Darts: Ten contenders to make the Premier League Darts line-up

Newly-crowned world champion Michael Smith and the man he beat to glory at Alexandra Palace Michael van Gerwen will head the field at this year's Premier League.

World No.1 Smith and Van Gerwen, ranked three, will be joined by fellow heavyweights Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price in the eight-player event which gets underway in Belfast on 2nd February.

And that means four more places are up for grabs with plenty of contenders. We have a look at ten other names in the frame for those last spots in the field.

WhatPremier League Darts
WhereVenues across UK, plus Dublin, Rotterdam and Berlin
When2nd February – 25th May, 2023
How to watchSky Sports

Cool Hand looks good for a debut campaign

Luke Humphries went into the worlds ranked No.5 in the world and has come out of it in the same position.

While rankings alone – beyond the top four – won't have any undue bearing on the selection panel, Cool Hand has surely done enough to guarantee a spot.

He would have hoped to have done better than making the last 16 at Ally Pally, but the Berkshire 27-year-old's six titles in 2022 and run to the semi-finals of the Grand Slam makes persuasive reading for a player rated 18/1 to win the 2024 World Darts Championship. 

Beyond Humphries, however, it looks like an absolute bunfight with one or two doing themselves any number of favours at the Palace and several more letting themselves down badly.

Champ Clayton can point to previous form

If past form is your yardstick then it's hard to look past Jonny Clayton for the sixth spot.

The Ferret has appeared twice in the Premier League, winning it at the first attempt and reaching the semis last year.

He's a winner of four more majors and even though 2022 wasn't exactly overflowing with titles, his run to the last eight of the Worlds won't have done him any harm. The Welsh thrower is trading at 14/1 for a maiden World Championship come next January.

The man he beat at the Palace in the last 16, however, also appears to have a decent claim – Josh Rock.

The opening night of this year's Premier League is in Belfast and what the PDC and Sky wouldn't give to have a home grown superstar being roared on by the crowd at the SSE Arena.

And that, of course, is what you would get with world youth champ Rock, just 21 and with the world at his feet. 

He hit a nine-darter against Van Gerwen in the Grand Slam last year, went to the Worlds as just a 14/1 shot despite it being his debut and seriously impressed before tripping up against Clayton.

Is he too young? Is he too raw? Is there any guarantee he can cope with the weekly cut-and-thrust among truly elite competition?

Those are the questions the organisers are going to have to juggle before they decide if Rock, 12/1 to win the Worlds in January '24, is worth the gamble.

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Clemens in shop window after semi-final run

And if Northern Ireland would love to see one of their own grace the 2023 Premier League, then so too would Germany – and they've finally got a contender.

German TV companies will be prodding the PDC over the claims of Gabriel Clemens, especially with Berlin hosting Night Nine on 30th March.

Clemens, who beat Price, gave Smith a serious game and produced some outstanding numbers in London, but comes with a massive degree of risk in such a rarefied competition.

If the PDC want to look to the continent then the Dutch duo of Danny Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode would make more sense given they have greater pedigree.

Noppert is ranked eighth in the world and won a major in 2022, the UK Open, while Van Duijvenbode's ferocious 180 hitting makes him massive box office.

Cullen's debut season in his favour

Joe Cullen, like Noppert, won a major last year – indeed it was triumphing in the year-opening Masters which earned him his place in the field.

And Rockstar took full advantage. The only member of the octet from outside the world's top ten, Cullen went on to reach the final where he was pipped 11-10 by Van Gerwen.

Reaching the final doesn't, however, come with any guarantee of a recall as Jose de Sousa discovered last year when he was snubbed 12 months after finishing runner-up to Clayton.

If rankings are the PDC's guide then Rob Cross at six has to come under consideration while Nathan Aspinall, at nine, also bounced back to form in 2022.

Organisers would love to have Gary Anderson in the field such is the two-time champion's popularity but the Scot's best days are definitely behind him and it would be a major surprise if he was given the nod.

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