Premier League Darts: Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen in opening night in Belfast
Phil Taylor faces a World final rematch with Michael van Gerwen in the opening night of the 2013 Premier League season.
Last Updated: 12/01/13 7:38am
Fixtures for the upcoming Premier League darts season have been released along with the news that prize money for the event has risen by 15 percent for a total of £520,000.
Champion Taylor leads an extended field of ten players for the event, with only the top eight surviving after week nine to complete the full 14 nights of league action before the top four go for the title in London in May.
The increase in prize money for the McCoy's Premier League Darts follows the announcement that the winner of the 2014 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship will earn a £250,000 prize and that prize funds for European Tour events will increase by almost 25% to £100,000 per event.
"Darts within the PDC is booming at the moment and it's important that this growth is reflected in our prize money," said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn. "These are exciting times to be a professional darts player!"
"We've experienced record crowds and record television ratings around the world for major tournaments over the last 12 months, which is a credit to the ever-increasing quality of play on show from the stars of our sport."
Taylor and Van Gerwen will renew their rivalry on the opening night on Thursday February 7 at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, while two-time world champion Adrian Lewis will face last year's Premier League runner-up Simon Whitlock and 2011 Premier League champion Gary Anderson plays Raymond van Barneveld.
Wes Newton will make his Premier League debut against 2009 champion James Wade, and last year's semi-finalist Andy Hamilton meets another newcomer, the UK Open champion Robert Thornton.
The second week will see Anderson and Thornton meet Whitlock and van Gerwen respectively as they return to their native Scotland for the league night at Aberdeen's AECC.
The night will also feature a clash between Stoke rivals Lewis and Taylor, who hit a nine-dart finish in Aberdeen last year, as well as van Barneveld's contest with Newton and Hamilton's fixture against Wade.
The third league night, at the BIC in Bournemouth on February 21, will feature the all-Dutch clash between van Gerwen and van Barneveld - a repeat of the 2012 Grand Slam of Darts Final - as well as the rematch of last May's Premier League Darts final between Taylor and Whitlock.
The eagerly-anticipated clash between Taylor and van Barneveld comes in Glasgow in week eight, which will be their first meeting since their angry exchange on the Alexandra Palace stage after their World Championship semi-final.
The final league night before the bottom two players in the league table are eliminated, at The Brighton Centre on 4 April, include the meeting of Thornton and Taylor in a repeat of last year's UK Open final, while former Premier League winners Anderson and Wade also clash.
With the field reduced to eight players following Week Nine, the remaining stars will play each other once more across the final five league nights, with either five or six league fixtures to be played on each evening.
The fixtures for Weeks Ten-14 will be announced following Week Nine, with the top four players eventually progressing to compete in the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on 16 May.