The PDC has potentially offered an early clue to the make-up of the Premier League 2023 line-up after unveiling the field for the first World Series of Darts event of the year.
For the first time, the invitational series will visit the Middle East for the Bahrain Darts Masters on January 12 and 13. World Championship favourite Michael van Gerwen will not be part of the tournament due to a pre-planned family holiday but Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright and Michael Smith will be there.
Another World Series regular, Dimitri Van den Bergh, will also be in action in Bahrain, but there are some notable additions and omissions in the field.
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World number five and one of the standout players of 2022, Luke Humphries, will grace a World Series event for the first time. Cool Hand is tipped by many to make his Premier League debut next year. A strong performance at the Alexandra Palace would make that a mere formality.
Darts player and pundit Matthew Edgar believes his selection provides a strong hint about his involvement in the Premier League. “Good to see Luke getting a call up for this. More signs that the premier league call up is coming,” Edgar tweeted.
Former world champions Rob Cross, another Premier League contender, and Raymond van Barneveld have also been picked.
With one of the eight players still to be confirmed, there is no place in Bahrain, so far, for half of last season’s Premier League field – Joe Cullen, James Wade, Jonny Clayton and Gary Anderson.
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It would be no surprise if Anderson misses out on a Premier League spot after a barren couple of years. Cullen, this year’s runner-up, Wade and Clayton will hope to keep their places but are under pressure from the likes of Nanthan Aspinall, Danny Noppert, Dave Chisnall, Ross Smith, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Ryan Searle.
The eight PDC representatives will take on eight Asian representatives, including two qualifiers from Bahrain, who will win through from knockout events to be held on December 17 and 18.
The Premier League gets underway on February 2 with Van Gerwen looking to defend the title he clinched in June.
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