Premier League Darts: The Challengers profiled
The 2020 Premier League gets under way on Thursday night, from 7pm on Sky Sports Action
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 04/02/20 4:25pm
In 2019 the PDC brought us the Premier League 'Contenders', and this year there will be another new name alongside the nine title hopefuls - who are they, who do they play and what can we expect? Introducing the Challengers.
Premier League Challengers
|Night One, Thursday February 6||P&J Live, Aberdeen||John Henderson||Nathan Aspinall|
|Night Two, Thursday February 13||Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham||Fallon Sherrock||Glen Durrant|
|Night Three, Thursday February 20||Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff||Jonny Clayton||Michael Smith|
|Night Four, Thursday February 27||3Arena, Dublin||William O'Connor||Michael van Gerwen|
|Night Five, Thursday March 5||Westpoint Exeter||Luke Humphries||Gary Anderson|
|Night Six, Thursday March 12||M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool||Stephen Bunting||Rob Cross|
|Night Seven, Thursday March 19||Utilita Arena, Newcastle||Chris Dobey||Daryl Gurney|
|Night Eight, Wednesday March 25||Rotterdam Ahoy||Jeffrey De Zwaan||Peter Wright|
|Judgement Night, Thursday March 26||Rotterdam Ahoy||Jermaine Wattimena||Gerwyn Price|
Opponent: Nathan Aspinall
PDC Order of Merit: 31
Big John Henderson featured as a 'Contender' in 2019, stunning Michael van Gerwen with a late comeback to salvage a 6-6 draw.
The Aberdeen native will be eager to deliver once again in his hometown, and won't be daunted by the occasion. Indeed, all the pressure will be on Nathan Aspinall who boasts no greater Premier League experience than his Scottish opponent.
'The Highlander' has no issues matching the best in the business over such a short format, and will have the crowd on his side.
Premier League Darts, Night One
|Michael Smith v Glen Durrant|
|Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney|
|Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright|
|Nathan Aspinall v John Henderson|
|Gerwyn Price v Rob Cross|
Opponent: Glen Durrant
PDC Order of Merit: 91
Off the back of her historic exploits at the Ally Pally, Sherrock is set for a taste of the big-time in the coming months with appearances at all World Series events. First up is a Premier League meeting with Glen Durrant in Nottingham.
Although the 25-year-old failed to win a Tour Card through Q-School, she has shown she thrives on the big occasion and she'll be gunning to add the three-time BDO champ to her list of high profile scalps.
Opponent: Michael Smith
PDC Order of Merit: 16
Three-time PDC ranking tournament winner Clayton is set for his Premier League bow in Cardiff. After breaking into the world's top 16, he has shown grit and determination to compete with the best in the game.
The Ferret is yet to return to a major decider since the 2017 Players Championship Finals, but has displayed a consistency across the board.
The 45-year-old will get his chance in the Welsh capital, facing the Bully Boy at the Motorpoint Arena, and he'll be looking to make a statement.
Opponent: Michael van Gerwen
PDC Order of Merit: 37
Many called for Keane Barry to be given the nod for the Premier League's stop in Dublin, but O'Connor is there on merit after enjoying a hugely positive 2019 season.
The Limerick native picked up a Players Championship title in Barnsley, and put in some astonishing performances as the Republic of Ireland reached the World Cup final.
He's had plenty of time to mull over the costly miscount that saw a potential shock World Championship win over Gerwyn Price slip from his grasp, and the Magpie will be gunning to make amends at the 3Arena.
What better way than doing it against the world number one?
Opponent: Gary Anderson
PDC Order of Merit: 35
The reigning PDC World Youth champ is undeniably one of the rising stars of the game. After taking time out in 2019, he returned to the oche and reached the World Championship quarter-final for the second year running.
Expect him to rise up the Order of Merit in the coming months.
Cool Hand Luke is one of four Challengers that featured as Contenders in 2019, and he'll be hoping to go one better than his 6-6 draw with Gerwyn Price 12 months ago.
Opponent: Rob Cross
PDC Order of Merit: 17
Bunting is no stranger to the Premier League stage. The former BDO world champ featured throughout the 2015 season, ultimately finishing eighth in the table.
He returns in 2020 for one night only, looking to build on what was a promising 2019 on tour. The Bullet showed signs he is getting back to his best, winning two ranking tournaments and reaching the quarter-finals of the Matchplay and Players Championship Finals.
He carried that form into the Ally Pally, but ran into the path of top seed Michael van Gerwen in the fourth round.
Opponent: Daryl Gurney
PDC Order of Merit: 19
'Hollywood' is another rising star on the oche. After seeing off Fallon Sherrock at the World Championship, losing a nail-biter against Glen Durrant in the last 16.
Nonetheless he enjoyed a fine season in 2019, with a Grand Prix semi-final appearance perhaps the highlight.
He fully justified his return to the Premier League on a one-off appearance, and he'll hold no fear of Gurney in Newcastle.
However, judging by his career trajectory, he'll be hoping his next Premier League appearance will be as a full member of the competition.
Jeffrey De Zwaan
Opponent: Peter Wright
PDC Order of Merit: 20
The Black Cobra pushed eventual champion Peter Wright all the way at the 2020 World Championship, losing their last-16 clash in the final set.
He will have an opportunity to set the record straight when he faces Snakebite in the Premier League in Rotterdam.
The 23-year-old seems to be on the cusp of a major career breakthrough, and the Premier League could be just the place to do just that. Beating the reigning world champ would be quite the statement indeed.
Opponent: Gerwyn Price
PDC Order of Merit: 23
The Dutch World Cup thrower has shown consistency as he has risen through the ranks in recent years. He achieved personal best forays into the World Matchplay, Grand Prix and UK Open in 2019, and will be looking to make his way further up the rankings in the coming months.
He will be the ninth and final Challenger of the 2020 Premier League, when he faces Gerwyn Price on 'Judgement Night' in Rotterdam.
Coverage of the Premier League gets underway on Thursday, February 6 in Aberdeen at 7pm on Sky Sports Action with newly-crowned world champion Peter Wright going up against Michael van Gerwen. Gary Anderson and 'Challenger' John Henderson also take to the stage.