The Player Championship Finals is organised by the Professional Darts Corporation, or PDC, and it is one of the premier events in the year. The qualification process for the competition is also unique, as it does not use the overall PDC Order of Merit, but it uses a special Players Championship Order of Merit. Here, the players rank according to how much money they have accumulated in prizes in the other Players Championships series in the year.
Since the competition was launched in 2009, there have been 7 champions: Phil Taylor, Paul Nicholson, Kevin Painter, Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Daryl Gurney, and most recently Peter Wright. Van Gewen has won the competition 6 times and is currently the leading champion with wins in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020. Though the competition is held in the UK, each year it has featured darts players from many different countries, primarily players from the Netherlands and Belgium.
With the increased cash pool and a new sponsor, the tournament is set to attract a larger media coverage. The upcoming tournament promises a lot of excitement if it lives up to the brilliant performances that the players have put into the Players Championships series. The series will continue until November, meaning that there is no fixed list of players yet, but there are players who are strongly tipped to qualify and then go on to win the tournament.
Michael van Gerwen
Van Gerwen is the most successful player in the competition and last year he was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Peter Wright, who went on to win. Van Gerwen currently sits No. 3 in the world, but last year he was at the No. 1 place. He established himself as one of the best players in the world in his early 20s, some ten years ago, and since then he has won every single PDC premier event. In 2022, he won the Premier League of darts, after a year in which he did not win any major titles. If he continues his current form, then he will be one of the strong favourites to win the Players Championship Finals.
Wright is a professional darts player from Scotland who is nicknamed Snakebite after his outrageous colourful Mohican hairstyles. He has been playing professionally since the 90s and in recent years, he has won many major PDC events. He is the current defending champion of the Players Championship Finals having beaten Ryan Searle in the finals. In 2022, he started off the year with a massive win at the World Darts Championship, and is currently on great form and has won one of the Players Championships and reached the final in another (only to be defeated by Michael van Gerwen).
Anderson, also a Scottish darts player, is one year younger than Wright and started his career in the 90s as well. He won the Players Championship Finals in 2014, when he beat Adrian Lewis 11-6 in the final. He reached the last game in the Player Championship Finals, but was defeated by legendary darts player Phil Taylor. He also reached the semi-finals in 2018, but was knocked out by eventual winner Michael van Gerwen. The two faced each other in the second round in last year's event, with van Gerwen beating Anderson. Despite this, he remains in the No. 6 place in the world and is a formidable darts player who has the experience to go all the way.
Gurney won the Players Championship Finals in 2017, beating the heavy favourite Michael van Gerwen. Though Gurney has only won two PDC premier events, he has qualified for all the major events numerous times and he is in the top 25 in the world rankings. He reached the quarterfinals in last year's competition, beating Michael Smith and James Wade before he was narrowly overcome by Ryan Searle. In the two tournaments between his famous win and last year’s competition, he was knocked out in the first round, so it is difficult to tell how well he will perform at this year’s Players Championship Finals, but he has qualified for all editions of the tournament since 2015.
Price is a hugely popular darts player, not only for his achievements in the sport but also because he was a professional rugby player before he played darts professionally. The Welshman has won 6 PDC premier events, including 3 Grand Slam of darts. His best run in the Players Championship Finals came in 2019 when he reached the finals, only to lose to Michael van Gerwen 9-11. In the following year, he met van Gerwen again, in the semi-finals, where he was beaten again 8-11. In 2021 he was knocked out by Northern Irish darts player Brendan Nolan in the third round. What is interesting to note is that Price never loses without putting in a good performance. He started 2022 well, reaching the quarterfinals in the PDC World Championship, UK Open and the Masters, and reaching the finals of the PDC World Cup of Darts, and these performances have placed him No. 2 in the world rankings.
Smith is a darts player who currently is yet to win a major event, although he has been close numerous times. He has reached the finals in the World Championship of darts twice, the World Matchplay, UK Open, Premier League of darts, Masters and the World Series Finals. In the Players Championship Finals, his best run came in 2020 when he reached the quarterfinals. The highlight in that year was when he beat Gary Anderson in the second round 6-4. He then went on to beat Jose de Sousa but was stopped by Peter Wright in the quarterfinals.
Wade, an English darts player, has won 11 PDC premier events. His most recent title came in 2021 when he won the UK Open. He has featured in the Players Championship Finals every year between 2009 and 2021, and his best run came in 2009 when he reached the semi-finals. In recent years, he has reached the quarterfinals and third round on numerous occasions, but suffered defeat at the hands of Daryl Gurney, Michael van Gerwen, Chris Dobey, and Rob Cross. This year he reached the semi-finals of the PDC World Championship, Premier League of darts, PDC World Cup of darts, and reached the quarter finals of the UK Open, which all helped propel his rank to No. 5 in the world.
Dimitri Van den Bergh
This Belgian player made his big breakthrough when he won the World Matchplay in 2020. He entered the competition through the qualifiers and not on merit, meaning he was an underdog. Despite this, he beat Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen, Adrian Lewis, Glen Durrant and finally Gary Anderson to become the champion. Since then, Van den Bergh has climbed his way up to the top 10 in the world rankings, and he has played in all the major PDC premier events. He has yet to make a big impact in the Players Championship Finals, but he has started the year well, reaching the quarterfinals in the PDC World Cup of Darts, and the fifth round in the UK Open.
The Players Championship Finals has a different qualification process to other major tournaments, which can allow many lower ranking players to qualify, and lends to the possibility that some major players may not, or they may face opponents that can cause great upsets. Whilst the players listed above are amongst the favourites in the outright betting market to win the competition, there is no way of knowing what will happen in the competition.
When betting on darts competitions, you should always remember that you are gambling your money, and there is no guarantee that you will win. To keep gambling safe and fun, it is essential that you set and stick to a budget you can afford. If you need more information on how you can limit your gambling or set your budget, you can refer to gambleaware.co.uk where there is a lot of useful material.