2022 Premier League Darts: Format, draw, prize money and a look at all eight contenders

Thursday nights are about to get interesting with Premier League Darts set to return for the 18th edition of the tournament.

For the next 17 weeks, eight players will battle it out across the UK and Europe for one of the richest prizes in darts. 

This year's edition of the tournament will see a new format, a new dartboard and a smaller field. However, the changes have all been designed to squeeze the most tungsten drama out of every possible match.

Here, we take an in-depth look at the event, the new format and the eight players who will take to the oche.

What's the new Premier League format?

The PDC have taken a bold step in creating a fresh format for the Premier League as they look to go in an exciting new direction.

The first 16 nights will now be transformed into individual mini-tournaments consisting of quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.

Ranking points will be awarded for each night, with five points going to the winner, three to the runner-up and two for the semi-finalists. The four players with the most points at the end of the 16 weeks will head into Finals night.

Who is the defending champion?

Jonny Clayton with the 2021 Premier League trophy

Jonny Clayton is the man looking to defend his Premier League crown.

Last year, the Welshman finished fourth in the standings before powering past Michael van Gerwen and Jose de Sousa during Finals night.

The Ferret enjoyed a stellar season last year, going on to claim four major titles. The 47-year-old will now be looking to capitalise on his red-hot form as he eyes back-to-back Premier League victories.

Michael van Gerwen targets Phil Taylor's record

Michael Van Gerwen celebrates with the trophy after defeating Michael Smith in the final during the 2018 Unibet Premier League Play-Offs at The O2 Arena, London.

Michael van Gerwen might not be at the peak of his powers but considering he won this event on five occasions, he simply cannot be overlooked.

The Green Machine's Premier League trophy haul is impressive but he is one short of equalling the tournament's most successful player, Phil Taylor.

The Dutchman hasn't made the final of this competition since 2019 and he will be desperate to change that as he sets his sights on a historic sixth Premier League title.

Joe Cullen earns Premier League spot with Masters win

Joe Cullen gets ready to walk to the stage during day twelve of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London.

Joe Cullen secured his debut spot in the Premier League following his Masters win last weekend.

The Rock Star powered past Dave Chisnall in Milton Keynes to claim his first major title since joining the PDC circuit.

The fact that Cullen is the lowest ranked player in the field, grants him the licence to tackle this tournament with a 'nothing to lose' mentality.

That could spell danger for others involved.

World No. 1 intent on improving Premier League record

Gerwyn Price in action against Stephen Buntingduring day fifteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London.

Gerwyn Price might be a darting powerhouse but we're yet to see his best darts on the Premier League stage.

The Iceman's best finishes have been fifths in 2019 and 2020 - something he'll be keen to improve going into 2022.

The one thing which could scupper his chances though, is his fractious relationship with the crowd. With thousands of fans expect to sell out arenas over the next 17 weeks, Price may want to invest in some earbuds.

Can Michael Smith finally win a major title?

Michael Smith during day fifteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Sunday January 2, 2022.

Perhaps the biggest question in darts is when will Michael Smith finally win a major trophy?

Smith has now been in six major finals, including January's world championship showdown with Peter Wright.

Bully Boy succumbed to another showpiece defeat that night and went on to suffer a disappointing loss to Dave Chisnall in the quarter-finals of the Masters last weekend.

The longevity of the Premier League gives Smith plenty of time to find his feet, but can he use it to his advantage?

Whatever happens, the 31-year-old is certainly one of the key players in this year's tournament.

World champion eyes first Premier League crown

26th April 2018, The Manchester Arena, Manchester, England; Unibet Premier League Darts, Night 13; Peter Wright during his match against Michael Smith

Peter Wright has won six different major titles throughout his career - and the Premier League is not one of them.

Wright's best run in the tournament came in 2017 when he reached the final but ultimately lost to his old sparring partner, Michael van Gerwen.

The Scotsman enters the Premier League as the current world champion and has to be one of the main conteders.

Is James Wade a genuine threat?

James Wade celebrates after winning a set against Stephen Bunting during day twelve of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London.

Only four men in this year's Premier League line-up are former winners of the event - James Wade is one of them.

Back in 2009, the Machine powered to a 13-8 victory over Mervyn King to claim the trophy.

In typical Wade fashion, the player only averaged 90 during his final victory - the lowest ever average for the winner of the Premier League.

The 38-year-old revels as a silent assassin so don't be surprised if he makes the Finals night without making too much of a fuss.

Gary Anderson brings experience

Gary Anderson speaks to Sky Sports after winning his match against Adrian Lewis during day two of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Thursday December 16, 2021.

The second most successful Premier League player in this year's line-up is Scotsman Gary Anderson.

While the 51-year-old has fallen in and out of love with the game in recent years, his ability is unquestionable.

Anderson reached the semi-final of the world championships last month despite confessing that his practice time had been minimal.

Few players have won as much in the sport as Anderson and even though he might not be firing on all cylinders, you can never count out the Flying Scotsman.

Where can I watch Premier League Darts?

You can watch every single leg of the Premier League live on Sky Sports.

What is the schedule for Premier League Darts?

The Premier League will air every Thursday from February 3 all the way to finals night on May 26.

You can check out the entire darting schedule for 2022 right here.

How much prize money is on offer?

This year's edition of the Premier League will include a record amount of prize money with the PDC setting the prize pool at £1million.

That is an increase of £145,000 from the previous year.

The winner of every Premier League night will receive £10,000 - part of the overall prize pool - towards their final prize money.

READ MORE: The five most fierce rivalries in darts, including Taylor vs Barneveld

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