Premier League Darts: Wayne Mardle backs new format and reveals who is the man to beat

The new era of Premier League Darts is now two weeks old and as things stand, Wayne Mardle is pleased with the revamped format.

The PDC implemented a major change to the structure of Premier League Darts ahead of the event's 18th edition.

Instead of a standard league format, the competition now features 16-mini tournaments before culminating with a finals night in June.

Peter Wright won the opening night in Cardiff thanks to his victory over Jonny Clayton in the final. The Welshman bounced back seven days later as he went all the way in Liverpool, beating Joe Cullen in the showpiece.

Peter Wright in action against Michael Smith during day sixteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Monday January 3, 2022.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Mardle shared his thoughts on the new format saying: "Coming into the Premier League with the change of format, you're kind of thinking 'I hope it works for the players, for the viewers, for everyone here.' I think it does. I think it really does.

"I said about the unpredictability, because of the short format. At one point, at 4-4, Jonny [Clayton] was averaging 88 and Joe [Cullen] was averaging 97. But it was still too close to call. So the averages kind of mean less in this shorter format.

"He [Clayton] did it both ways. He did it against someone playing unbelievably well like van Gerwen. He matched his dart for dart and even got better and had to grind it out as well. Testament to Jonny and his belief, just where he is with his darts right now.

"But I think this format is going to work. I think it's got legs."

Can Jonny Clayton go all the way?

Jonny Clayton celebrates

After two weeks, it's Clayton who leads the standings with eight points to his name - three ahead of Peter Wright.

Having made the final in the first two nights of the competition, Mardle believes he is the man to beat.

When asked about his favourite, the former Premier League player said: "I think it's really difficult. We were saying coming into this that van Gerwen had a lot to prove… to himself and confidence wise. But I think that's been dealt with.

"Joe Cullen getting off the mark - that's been dealt with. Michael Smith… okay. That hasn't. He needs to register that first win before it manifests itself into a problem.

"But last week we were saying Jonny Clayton was the man to beat. This week it was Peter Wright. Well, it's Jonny Clayton again. And it's not because he won. It's because of what he did under pressure against MVG.

"I think we're going to chop and change and the bookies will as well. Almost everyone at home will be [thinking] who is favourite? And it's difficult to call now, it really is. And because of the shortened format, it's volatile and these 6-1, 6-2, [score lines], I think we're going to see a lot of them."

The third night of Premier League Darts will take place in Belfast as the darting roadshow moves to Northern Ireland.

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