Sadly, Gary Anderson has had to withdraw from this year’s Premier League due to a troublesome back injury that has had bothered him for some time. After frenzied speculation, the PDC has opted not to replace him directly, which must upset Simon Whitlock immensely, and instead invite six up and coming players to gain experience of the event.
A combination of recent performances, geography and commercial factors seem to have been taken into account. Three-time & reigning BDO World Champion Glenn Durrant will lead of ‘The Contenders Team’ in Glasgow next week. There was much gossip that Durrant would be invited straight into the League as a straight replacement. However, the potential backlash against a player who only won his PDC tour card a couple of weeks ago seems to have weighed against that option.
Most of the other players are those who have had good success, at various levels, in recent times and are linked to the locations where they have been invited to play. Steve Lennon will play in Dublin, John Henderson in Aberdeen, Dimitri Van Den Bergh appears in Rotterdam along with Jeffrey De Zwann, Max Hopp is rewarded for his wins last year with a home appearance in Berlin. Three 2019 World Championship stars are rewarded with places. Nathan Aspinall will appear in Nottingham, Luke Humphries in Exeter and Chris Dobey in Newcastle.
These contenders may have a big influence on the 2019 event. They are financially and otherwise incentivised to win their games and those they play will keep the points should they defeat the newcomers. It is highly likely that these matches will have effects on who goes home on elimination night and the finishing positions overall.
Personally, I would not be happy to draw Duzza or The ASP, whilst Chris Dobey & John Henderson in their native lands could be very hard to handle.