Premier League Darts 2019 season talking points
By Sky Sports Darts
Last Updated: 27/05/19 12:33pm
The 2019 Premier League season was one of the most captivating in recent memory, with the introduction of the contenders, a thrilling race for the Play-Offs and a topsy-turvy battle for top spot.
However, the season culminated in familiar circumstances, as Michael van Gerwen defeated Rob Cross 11-5 in Thursday's showpiece at The O2 to clinch his fifth Premier League title.
As the dust settles on another thrilling campaign, the Sky Sports Darts team pick out five talking points that emerged from the 17 week roadshow across Europe...
'Premier League is unforgiving'
There are a few things that have changed in a year and the Premier League - having played in it so many times, I've seen people wilt. I've felt different year in year out myself when I've played in it.
The difference in Michael Smith from this year to last year - he looked utterly composed under pressure last year. This year he has not.
Gerwyn Price last year looked completely out of his depth and just not good enough. He's flip-flopped that completely and now he's one of the world's best.
It was Barney's last Premier League and without doubt his worst. Nothing worked for him. Peter Wright has always been a consistent beast and now he's inconsistent. The Premier League is unforgiving, it really is.
I think we have seen time and time again that no one's performance throughout it is to be taken for granted, so whoever comes in next year, whether it be a different cliental or not, it's impossible to conclusively say: 'They will do this'.
The Premier League remains as unpredictable a tournament as you can ever imagine.
Coming of age for Price
I'm pleased for Gezzy [Price]. He had a few draws that were definitely points dropped, he did not close out games. You look at the Rob Cross game, Luke Humphries, the Barney game. There's three points and he would have been in the Play-Offs.
He is positive. He did what he had to do last week, won the game and won it well. He is unfortunate [to miss out] but I expect him to carry on and have a good season.
Whether you like him or not you have got to respect the guy. He is a major champion and he put the disappointment of last year behind him, because he was really poor last year. He has had a great campaign.
I think we will expect to see him back next year. He will pick up from where he left off, have a good season and he is a player that the top players want to avoid now.
Whether the crowd are on his back or behind him, he knows he can deal with it. He showed in Cardiff with the crowd behind him he can he deal with the emotions of being the home boy well.
He's probably one of those that will never be favourite for an event, but he always believes he can win. He backs himself in every tournament and he comes unstuck sometimes, but he's a quality player and has come of age in the last 12 to 18 months.
Contenders 'created something different'
I personally think it's been brilliant. I think when Gary (Anderson) unfortunately had to pull out, I actually said they have got to go with Whitlock - he is the next in the rankings.
Then there was this big announcement and I have to admit it, I sat there and thought 'I don't know, I don't know, but keep it fresh'.
For me, the contenders have been the nugget of the Premier League. Not one of them disgraced themselves. They went up there and proved that even further down the line.
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I know it has not been everyone's cup of tea. There were people that did not want the contenders, it was a waste of two points or whatever, and my response with that would be that it's not a waste of two points.
This is simply because you are a professional dart player, you go up there with the same attitude as if you had been playing Gary Anderson or someone else who might have been chosen in his place.
I know we are calling them contenders but they are world-class players, so you have to turn up against them with the same attitude as you would have against everybody else. I thought it worked and it created something different for the event.
Oh Barney, Barney
Raymond van Barneveld's place in the Premier League was the subject of much chatter after being awarded a wild card and performances on the oche did indeed make it hard to justify. However, there can be no doubt of how he has served the sport and it was evident throughout his eight weeks.
Premier League champion in 2014, his last major individual title, and as a five-time world champion he deserved a send-off, especially in a year that could yet end without a major TV tournament.
And a send-off he got. Cheered and roared to the stage across each of the first seven venues before Rotterdam.
It felt right that as Judgement Night loomed at the Ahoy, to quote his walk-on music, Barney's task was: 'Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past, you must fight just to keep them alive'.
He was bottom of the pile and needed to win, but what we saw was perhaps the reason he is calling it a day after this year's worlds.
Heavy defeats to Daryl Gurney and Michael van Gerwen prompted an outpouring of emotion, a retirement and then non retirement - drama befitting the great doyen of Dutch darts.
Life on the Pro Tour has flickered this year with a Players Championship final against Adrian Lewis, qualification for Euro Tour events has been achieved but it is proving a slog.
Whatever happens Barney has earned the right to go out on his own terms and he will hopefully get the send-off he deserves at Ally Pally, much like he did in Rotterdam.
James Wade endured a disappointing Finals Night which culminated in a semi-final defeat to Rob Cross, but that should not detract from a wonderful campaign which saw 'The Machine' confirm his return to the big time.
Wade was at a crossroads 12 months ago, having been omitted from last year's Premier League whilst also relinquishing his top-10 status for the first time in over a decade.
However, having ended his four-year major drought with titles at the European Championship and World Series Finals last Autumn, Wade earned a well deserved recall.
The nine-time major winner was not particularly fancied with the bookmakers prior to the tournament, but enjoyed statistically one of his best campaigns to reach the play-offs for the first time since 2013.
Wade boasted the best head-to-head record out of all the semi-finalists, which also saw him claim three points from a possible four against Van Gerwen.
His game has clearly evolved in 2019. He's renowned for being the ultimate match-player who ruthlessly capitalises on any error from his opponent, but to suggest he's merely an opportunist does him a huge disservice.
His scoring power has improved immeasurably this term and combined with his clinical combination finishing, this makes him a danger in every tournament he features in. Make no mistake, James Wade is back and better than ever.
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