10 things we learnt from 2013 Premier League Darts

1.Michael van Gerwen is here to stay
Having lost his previous two major finals – to Taylor and van Barneveld – there was a nagging doubt as to whether MvG was ready yet to take on the best on the biggest of occasions. Having staged a comeback to beat the greatest ever player in front of 10,000 fans, it now seems impossible that Van Gerwen won’t become world champion on more than one occasion, and unlikely that he won’t be the next world number 1.

2. You don’t pass up a bull if Phil Taylor is on a finish
The 160 that Taylor took out to draw level against MvG in the final was the sort of finish that few darters can manage. Taylor’s still got it, and but for missed doubles at 5v3 and again at 5v4, he would almost certainly have secured a seventh Premier League title. Expect more major titles for The Power this year.

3. The format change was well overdue
The jeopardy created by relegation after nine weeks of the tournament gave the early stages an impetus lacking in previous years. Adrian Lewis’s weekly battle for points soon became compulsive viewing, and it’s a format change which is surely here to stay. However…

4. The format still has its faults
Weeks 10-14 were all at sixes and fives, producing unfair fixtures and low quality games. The logical solution, to add a couple more weeks (possibly in Holland or Germany?), would turn what is already a marathon into an ironman triathlon. The tournament needs shortening; the format tweaking further.

5. Barney may be back, but he won’t beat Taylor any time soon
The Dutchman has thrown some fine darts in the last few months, and semi-finals here following similar at the World Championship gives him a fair claim as one of the world’s top 4. Barney remains convinced that Taylor saves his best for him, however, and whilst that remains, future major victories will be dependent on a favourable draw.

6. Robert Thornton is Scotland’s number one
The Thorn may have narrowly missed out on finals night, but he more than justified his selection for the tournament, only running out of steam in the last two weeks. Gary Anderson, meanwhile, finished bottom of the league for the second year running, and is in danger of disappearing from the elite double-fast – which is odd, seeing as he has trouble hitting them when it matters.

7. Wes Newton doesn’t belong here, yet
He said it’s the highlight of his darting career so far, and he played well enough throughout, but Wes didn’t sparkle on or off the board. In an event where ability and image share equal standing, Newton will need to reach a major final and find himself a gimmick this year, if he’s to secure a berth in the 2014 version of the tournament.

8. Crowd violence is no longer a potential problem, it’s an actual one
For once, darts should be pleased about the low profile it carries with the broadsheet press. Crowd violence is now a visible problem (certainly on YouTube), and brushing it under the carpet most definitely won’t make it go away. For an event which is stage-managed to perfection, the apparent lack of action regarding violent behaviour seems a huge – and risky – oversight.

9. Adrian Lewis needs a manager
He had a four game unbeaten run just prior to relegation being decided, but this was bookended by 10 defeats. Lewis seems a little lost since splitting with his unlikely and extremely successful manager Keith Deller. You don’t stop being a good player overnight, but Jackpot could do with the odd word of encouragement, and someone to set some boundaries (such as staying off twitter on match days)

10. A few new faces never goes amiss
Whilst Taylor, MvG, Barneveld, Wade are Lewis are already nailed on for 2014 (with Thornton & Whitlock ticking important boxes relating to venues and global TV audiences respectively) the organisers understand the considerable benefits of including new players each year, so Andy Hamilton may not need to keep Thursdays free next Spring. Dave Chisnall, Mervyn King and Paul Nicholson will be amongst those making a case for inclusion during this year, but with all round dartatainment in mind, don’t be surprised to see Kim Huybrechts leading the pack come December.

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