Gary Anderson and Robert Thornton to play in revamped Darts Premier League
Revamped Premier League will feature two Scots players for the first time. Neil Sargent reports.
Two Scottish players will feature in the Premier League Darts for the first time ever after the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) announced an expanded format for the 2013 season.
Scots stars Gary Anderson and Robert Thornton were named as part of a new 10-man field, up from eight in previous years, at the annual PDC awards dinner at the Dorchester, London, on Wednesday evening.
It is the third consecutive season that Anderson has qualified for the prestigious event, while Thornton has been rewarded for the best season of his career with a debut in the competition.
The Scots aces will be joined by Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis, Michael van Gerwen and James Wade, who qualify automatically thanks to their world ranking position, as well as Australia’s Simon Whitlock, Holland’s Raymond van Barneveld, Stoke’s Andy Hamilton and Fleetwood’s Wes Newton.
The selection caps a phenomenal year for Ayrshire’s Robert Thornton, who was crowned UK Open Champion at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium in June – his first major title since joining the PDC in 2008.Gary Anderson struggled for form during 2012 but will be hoping to recapture the form that saw him win the Premier League title in 2011.
The new format will see matches reduced from best of 16 legs to best of 12 legs during the opening nine weeks, after which the bottom two players will be relegated and the remaining eight will compete to qualify for the end of season play-offs at Wembley Arena in May.
Speaking on the Professional Darts Corporation’s official website, PDC Chairman Barry Hearn said: "This new format for the McCoy's Premier League Darts is going to take the tournament to a whole new level.
"This new format will mean incredible competition both to avoid relegation and then for Play-Off places before the ninth McCoy's Premier League champion is crowned at The O2 in May."
Scottish fans will get two chances to see their heroes in action when the competition visits Aberdeen’s AECC on February 14 and Glasgow’s SECC on March 28.