One of the elite annual tournaments in professional darts is the Premier League Darts. Founded in 2005 by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), it’s one of the 7 majors and among the 6 non-ranking TV tournaments, so winning in this tournament is a massive deal for a professional darts player’s career and legacy.
So, how does the Premier League Darts work? Consisting of the top ten best darts players globally, everyone will face one another in a double-round robin style. In phase 1, the bottom two will be eliminated, while in phase 2, the bottom four will be eliminated until only the top 4 players are left to compete in playoff-style bracketing.
History of Premier League Darts
In 2005, encouraged by the success of the PDC World Championships, Sky Sports established the Premier League Darts. This competition involves the world’s top 10 darts players, with each player playing against each other twice before determining a champion.
This tournament is named after the incredibly popular Premier League Snooker, which Sky Sports have exclusive broadcast rights over. They did this in attempt to transfer some of that popularity over the sports of darts, further boosting its popularity in recent years.
Although Sky Sports have broadcasted the tournament since its establishment, BBC America later started airing the competition on their platform; doing so on Sunday mornings rather than Thursday nights.
An Overview of Premier League Darts
To break down how Premier League Darts work, let’s discuss further what it is. This is because the Premier League Darts is separate from PDC Championships, another popular darts tournament.
With that said, although it may sound complicated, the professional scene in darts is almost similar to football. In fact, there are many professional leagues in Europe happening on top of the many tournament cups.
The preliminary matches for the Premier League take place every Thursday, between February and May. The scene is similar to football because the venues are held in different European locations, particularly in the UK and Ireland.
The top four ranked players, if not injured, will automatically qualify for the tournament. As for the other players, the PDC will give “wildcards” to fill up five slots.
With only one left, that participant can be a “challenger,” which means they can be anyone among the elite players left. This invitation extended to challengers has been practiced since the 2019 Premier League.
What Is the Format of Premier League Darts?
Now that you know who can qualify and where to play, it’s time to understand the details of the tournament.
The tournament typically spans around 17 nights (one per week), and the players will undergo a double-round robin competition style. The first round robin will be dubbed “Phase 1,” while the second will be dubbed “Phase 2.”
All ten players will play in Phase 1 of the tournament. This phase spans nine rounds, which means it last nine weeks. For every round, there are five matches, and each game will be played in a best-of-12-legs.
With that said, the first one to secure seven legs wins the match. If both competing players managed to secure 6 legs each, the game would be ruled as a draw. The player who wins a match will be awarded “2 points,” while players who end up in a tie will have “1 point” each.
All these points will be tallied in “the table,” and all will be added at the end of nine rounds. The two players who manage to secure the least amount of points will be considered the bottom two and eliminated.
If there’s a tie at the bottom spots, the leg difference will be the basis for the first tie-breaker, while for the second tie-breaker, the number of legs won, if necessary.
For Phase 2, only the eight remaining players will compete in another round-robin competition. This time, there will be seven rounds played within seven weeks. Each round will have four matches, and each of them will be played in a best-of-14-legs.
This means that a player can win the match if he managed to secure eight wins. Similar to Phase 1, if both players tend to get a tie or seven legs a-piece, the match will be declared a draw.
The table tallying method, the point system, and the manner of elimination are the same as those of Phase 1, but this time, the bottom four players will be eliminated.
Now comes the final phase in the last night – the play-offs. The four remaining players will be competing in the semi-final stage, and then the last two will have a showdown for the final stage.
At the start of the Play-offs, the top 1 and top 4 players will be matched together while the top 2 and 3 players will compete against each other.
In the semi-finals, the first player to secure 10 matches out of 19 legs will advance to the finals. In the finals, the one who can secure 11 matches out of 21 legs will win the trophy and the grand cash prize.
How Can Premier League Darts Generate Income?
Now you know how Premier League Darts work, let’s discuss how it helps players generate income. As a professional darts tournaments, players aren’t just competing for the spot as the top darts player worldwide; they’re also competing for the prize money.
As mentioned, this is a professional darts tournament, which is why there are cash prizes involved. The prize money can increase over time, with the winner gaining the top prize. To illustrate, here is a list of the total prize pool and the champion’s prize for the last five years:
- 2016 – prize money = £725,000; winner = £200,000
- 2017 – prize money = £825,000; winner = £250,000
- 2018 – prize money = £825,000; winner = £250,000
- 2019 – prize money = £825,000; winner = £250,000
- 2020 – prize money = £825,000; winner = £250,000
The rest of the prize money will be distributed accordingly to the rest of the participants.
So, how does the league generate income? Well, one of the main reasons for the league’s income is due to TV contracts. As of now, all matches of Premier League are aired live on Sky Sports TV. The broadcasting is treated with the same regard as football and basketball, wherein there are commentaries and replays.
Aside from that, all rounds are held indoors with a large crowd in attendance, possibly reaching tens of thousands, especially in the finale.
You can purchase tickets ahead for the whole season, meaning from the first match to the last night. However, since it will be held in different locations in Europe, it will be an incredibly long trip, especially if you live far away.
Darts is an exciting game, both as a player and viewer. With that said, if you are interested in superb quality darts gaming, you can tune in to Premier League Darts. However, if you don’t have cable TV, you can still eventually watch or receive updates from legitimate online platforms.