Daryl Gurney joy but some huge names miss out on 2018 Premier League Darts
The 10-man line-up for this year's Premier League Darts has been unveiled.
Shortly after Rob Cross claimed the World Championship title on his first appearance in the annual tournament, the former electrician was predictably confirmed as one of competitors in the Premier League, which gets underway in February.
Cross had just demolished the retiring Phil Taylor 7-2 on Monday night, averaging 107.67 in the final to prove that his victory over Michael van Gerwen was no fluke.
But while Cross will feature in the Premier League this year, PDC chairman Barry Hearn announced that some huge names will miss out.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis, who has dropped down toin the rankings, will play no part while the likes of James Wade, Kim Huybrechts, Jelle Klaasen and Dave Chisnall all miss out on a spot in the line-up.
Daryl Gurney, Mensur Suljovic and Gerwyn Price join Cross as debutants for the 15-week competition which gets started at Dublin's 3Arena on Thursday, February 1. Derry native Gurney will be well supported, no doubt, at the event.
"Rob Cross was an electrician last February – I don’t know what electricians earn, but I’m going to guess at £20,000 a year. What’s he going to earn in 2018... maybe £600,000 or more?" Hearn said, via the Mirror.
"This is not Premier League football. They live on Fantasy Island, and good luck to them.
"But where we have come from is the real world with ordinary working-class people with extraordinary ability and they are getting the rewards they deserve for entertaining people.
"Like all sport, ability is the only criteria in darts and when legends like Phil Taylor move on, it’s the same with royalty: The king is dead, long live the king.
"Sport is a soap opera, it consumes the masses and Taylor has been like one of those old retainers from Coronation Street or EastEnders who has been there since the very beginning of the series. But we all reach our sell-by date, Phil was a big enough man to admit he has reached his and the show must go on."
Hearn noted that the Premier League event in Rotterdam, later this year, sold out 12,000 tickets in 15 minutes while the first PL foray into Berlin has also sold out.
"Such is the demand to watch darts now," he proclaimed, "that we have sold 100,000 tickets for the Premier League – and we haven’t spent a shilling on marketing it. If I thought there was a weakness in our sport, I would be looking to cover it — but I don’t see one."
Hearn says he is excited to see what the next generation of stars will bring to the sport. "They have no fear," he declared.
Premier League line-up 2018
Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld