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Jonny Clayton poised for Premier League Darts homecoming in Cardiff: “It’s going to be electric”

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Premier League Darts 2022 | Night One Preview and Order of Play

Jamie Shaw in Premier League Darts 03 Feb 2022
The eight Premier League stars (Photo by Steve Paston/PDC)

The 2022 Premier League Darts season commences in Cardiff on Thursday as the elite eight face off in the first knock-out event.

A revamped format for the 2022 Premier League will see each night feature a mini-tournament comprised of Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and a final, with a £10,000 bonus to each night’s winner.

Night One of the 17-week roadshow across the UK, Ireland and Europe sees the star names head to the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff as they look to get off to a strong start.

Jonny Clayton is set for a hero’s reception on home soil as he starts the defence of his title against newcomer Joe Cullen in the opening match of the night.

Clayton enjoyed a fairy-tale triumph in his debut season in Milton Keynes last May, the biggest of the four televised titles he picked up during the year.

He is now bidding to become only the third player in Premier League history to successfully retain this prestigious title and will be hoping a partisan Cardiff crowd can roar him to victory against the man who succeeded him as Masters champion last weekend.

Cullen secured his first televised title in fairy-tale fashion on Sunday, defeating Dave Chisnall in the final to prompt emotional scenes on stage with his father during the trophy presentation.

The Bradford ace is the sole debutant in this year’s Premier League and will look to pick up from where he left off in what has been a whirlwind week in his career.

Gerwyn Price is also set for a rapturous reception as he returns home to the Welsh capital, and the world number one faces a Quarter-Final show-down with 2009 champion James Wade.

Price, who missed last year’s Premier League due to a positive Covid test, has failed to make the play-offs in three previous appearances in this event and will be determined to rectify that on his return.

The 2021 World Champion was beaten by Clayton in last week’s Masters Quarter-Finals and will look to feed off the crowd support in a bid to deny ‘The Machine’ a Semi-Final spot.

Wade is making his 12th Premier League appearance, more than any other player in the field, having won the UK Open last year and finished the season in the world’s top four.

The ten-time TV title winner finished sixth in last season’s Premier League and will hope to spoil the party in Cardiff by getting off to a winning start.

A repeat of last month’s World Championship final sees world number two Peter Wright take on Michael Smith.

Both players have appeared in a Premier League final, with Wright squandering six match darts for the title in 2017 and Smith also losing out to MVG at The O2 the following year.

Wright secured his second world title at the expense of ‘Bully Boy’ in an epic Ally Pally final four weeks ago and is now looking to join Phil Taylor as the only player to have held the World Matchplay, World Championship and Premier League titles at the same time.

Smith will be out to obtain a degree of revenge as he returns to the Premier League line-up after missing out much to his disappointment last year.

The world number five finished seventh in his two most recent appearances in this tournament but will be targeting a change of fortunes over the knock-out format.

The fourth Quarter-Final tie sees multiple Premier League champions Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson go head-to-head.

The duo contested a frosty encounter at the Grand Slam last November in which words were exchanged and have played out many classic meetings over the past decade, including the 2015 Premier League final which Anderson won 11-7 as both averaged 105.

Van Gerwen’s sole televised title last year came at the Nordic Masters and he remains in pursuit of a first major triumph since the 2020 Players Championship Finals.

Only once in nine previous Premier League appearances has the green machine failed to reach the play-offs and he finished top of the league phase in his first seven seasons on the spin.

Anderson returns for an 11th stint in this competition, having ended an otherwise below-par season with a run to the Semi-Finals of the World Championship.

Winner in 2011 and 2015, The Flying Scotsman finished eighth last year, ending a run of six consecutive play-off appearances.

He was thrashed 10-1 by Cullen in the Last 16 of The Masters at the weekend and will be determined to bounce back and shake off the cobwebs after a month away in which he got married.

The action gets under way from 7pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.

WATCH PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS NIGHT ONE STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Premier League Darts 2022 Night One Schedule

Thursday February 3

Quarter-Finals
Jonny Clayton v Joe Cullen
Gerwyn Price v James Wade
Peter Wright v Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson

Semi-Finals
Clayton/Cullen v Price/Wade
Wright/Smith v Van Gerwen/Anderson

Final

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