31. January 2011 21:31
Phil Taylor will begin the defence of his Premier League crown on February 10th against newly crowned World Champion Adrian Lewis.
Lewis rose to prominence after hitting a sensational nine-dart finish in the final of the World Championship against Gary Anderson to take the title earlier this month.
Taylor, attempting to win his 16th World Championship lost out to Mark Webster in the quarter-finals of that event, and will now look to the Premier League to gain revenge. The Sports Personality of the Year nominee hit two nine-dart finishes in the final of the Premier League in 2010, the first time this has ever been done, and will be hopeful of reprising the form he showed last year in the competition.
Lewis has risen to number 2 in the world rankings after his first World Championship win, and will look to cement his growing reputation with a good performance against the world number 1 at the O2 arena. The two will do battle again on April 21st as both seek to advance to the play-offs.
Also on the opening night, Lewis’s World final opponent Gary Anderson plays Simon Whitlock, while Raymond van Barneveld takes on Terry Jenkins and Wade will face Mark Webster. The competition takes on a different format to other events in the darts calendar; the eight men play each other in a league format twice before the top four go through to a play-off at Wembley Arena in May.
Sports betting patterns mean Taylor has emerged as a favourite to retain the title he has won five times before, while Lewis, who used to practise with Taylor in their native Stoke-on-Trent, will be close behind him.