Premier League Darts: Who will make the eight-player line-up?

As darts fans across the globe wait for the Premier League line-up to be revealed, Planet Sport takes a look at the main contenders who could feature on the eight-player shortlist.

The 2022 Premier League campaign could be one of the most exciting yet following PDC's shake-up of the tournament.

The darts organisation announced a major change to the format last Friday which will feature less players, but is expected to create even more drama.

This year's edition of the Premier League will include eight players, with the 16 league nights being transformed into individual mini-tournaments consisting of quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.

Ranking points will be awarded from 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.

With the format settled, the question now turns to who will compete in this year's Premier League.

Here, we take a look at the frontrunners.

Peter Wright

Peter Wright with the Sid Waddell Trophy after victory against Michael Smith during day sixteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Monday January 3, 2022.

After claiming the 2022 World Championship title, you can be assured that Peter Wright will be part of the Premier League line-up.

In previous years, the top four players on the PDC's Order of Merit have automatically booked their place in the event.

Wright has played in eight successive Premier League tournaments, with his best result coming in 2017 when he reached the final. Snakebite was ultimately beaten 11-10 by his old sparring partner, Michael van Gerwen.

Michael Smith

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

Michael Smith is fifth in the PDC's Order of Merit but considering his run to the world championship final last month, you can also expect Bully Boy to make the eight-player shortlist.

The 31-year-old is yet to win a major title in the PDC, but he has played in six finals - including the 2018 Premier League showpiece.

The player has made four appearances in the event and finished seventh in his last outing back in 2020.

Gerwyn Price

Gerwyn Price pumped up Nov21 vs James Wade

Gerwyn Price might be a former world champion, a former Grand Prix winner and a three-time Grand Slam king, however the Iceman is yet to take the Premier League stage by storm.

With the Welshman sitting pretty at the top of the PDC's Order of Merit, you can expect to see him in the Premier League line-up.

The Iceman will be hoping to improve on his all-time best Premier League finish of fifth from 2020 and 2019.

Michael van Gerwen

Michael Van Gerwen celebrates during his game against Jonny Clayton during the 2021 Unibet Premier League Play-Offs at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes.

Let's face it, the Premier League just wouldn't be the same without the legendary Michael van Gerwen.

The five-time winner of the event is third in the PDC's Order of Merit, so expect to see the Green Machine on the eight-player shortlist.

Apart from the rankings, the PDC could also use a Dutchman on the card considering Night Eight of the tournament takes place in Rotterdam.

Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson darts PDC World Championships Dec21

Last year was a frustrating one for Gary Anderson. Apart from his appearance in the final of the 2021 World Championships, the player's best run in a tournament was a fourth-round appearance at the UK Open.

Nevertheless, the Flying Scotsman has kicked off 2022 in style having reached the semi-finals of the worlds - only to be beaten by the eventual winner, Peter Wright.

Anderson has been a part of 10 Premier League campaigns and knows all about the rigours of the competition.

The 51-year-old hasn't won an individual major since his victory at the 2018 Champions League of Darts, but he remains one of the best players in the world and is a leading contender for a Premier League spot.

James Wade

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

Former Premier League winner James Wade is expected to feature in this year's event due to his fourth-placed ranking in the PDC's Order of Merit.

Despite not setting the World Championship stage on fire last month, Wade reached the semi-final for the fourth time in his career.

The 38-year-old has participated in 11 Premier League campaigns and has reached three finals.

Jonny Clayton

Jonny Clayton celebrates during day one of the Ladbrokes Masters 2021 tournament at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes

The defending Premier League champion is also expected to participate following an incredible season in 2021.

Clayton won four major PDC events last year, and shot up to eighth in the world rankings.

Considering his recent performances and the fact he is the current holder of the Premier League crown, there's no reason for the Welshman to miss out on the eight-player shortlist.

Rob Cross

Rob Cross celebrates against Daryl Gurney during day eleven of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Tuesday December 28, 2021.

It's fair to say that the seven names we've already covered appear to be nailed on for a spot in the Premier League. With one place remaining, could Rob Cross be the chosen one?

The former world champion endured a mixed 2021 - the highlight of which was his victory at the European Championship.

Cross picked up keynote victories at the recent world championships over Raymond van Barneveld and Daryl Gurney, but ultimately bowed out in the fourth round following a loss to Gary Anderson.

Voltage would make for a popular selection but he does face stiff competition to make the eight-player line-up.

Fallon Sherrock

Fallon Sherrock, Darts

The main talking point ahead of this year's Premier League concerns the possible inclusion of Fallon Sherrock.

While there are a plethora of players who have won more tournaments and posted better averages in the past year, few of them bring as many eyeballs to the sport as the Queen of the Palace.

Sharrock failed to win a PDC Tour Card during Q School this week and former world champion John Part has raised concerns about her possible involvement in the Premier League.

However, if Sky Sports have any influence in the decision-making process, it wouldn't come as a surprise if the 27-year-old is included in the eight-player field.

Luke Humphries

Luke Humphries reacts during day thirteen of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Thursday December 30, 2021.

If Sherrock is not the answer, then perhaps the powers that be will go for a young outsider.

Luke Humphries has made a lot of waves in recent years and would make for an intriguing addition to the Premier League.

The 26-year-old is a former World Youth Champion and a three-time World Championship quarter-finalist - including the 2022 event.

Ryan Searle

Ryan Searle celebrates defeating Kim Huybrechts during day ten of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London.

One man who has made a tremendous impact on the darting stage over the last four months is Ryan Searle.

The man known as Heavy Metal reached the World Grand Prix quarter-final in October before enjoying an incredible run to the final at the Players Championship Finals.

The 34-year-old is not only in great form, but also appears to have a great connection with fans.

Raymond van Barneveld

Raymond van Barneveld dejected

Speaking of a good connection with fans, should we dare mention Raymond van Barneveld as a possible contender?

The Dutchman has made more appearances in the Premier League than any other darts player in history (14).

The 54-year-old recently returned to the sport following his brief retirement in 2020.

While Barney might not be at the top of his game, his name is synonymous with darts and his inclusion in the tournament would certainly bring a lot of eyeballs.

Who else is in the running?

Mervyn King celebrates against Steve Lennon during day eleven of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace, London. Picture date: Tuesday December 28, 2021.

There are a number of players who make a good case for being in the Premier League line-up.

Names such as Jose de Sousa, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Joe Cullen and Daven Chisnall are all capable of putting on a competitive showing at the event.

Another man who deserves a mention is Mervyn King. The 55-year-old has enjoyed a resurgence in recent months having reached the 2021 Masters final and the 2022 World Championship quarter-final.

Considering one of the 17 events will take place in Germany, you also can't forget about Germany's number one Gabriel Clemens.

While the player might not be at the top of his game, his inclusion would certainly increase interest in the event over in Germany.

Whoever is included, one thing's for sure - the 2022 Premier League season could be one of the most exciting to date.

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