KLAASEN & HUYBRECHTS RETURN TO BETWAY PREMIER LEAGUE FIELD FOR 2017
JELLE KLAASEN and Kim Huybrechts will return to the Betway Premier League in 2017, with the ten-player field for next year’s £825,000 tournament also featuring former champions Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson, James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld.
Dutch star Klaasen consolidated his status inside the world’s top ten during 2016, following up a run to the World Championship semi-finals by reaching the last four at the UK Open and the European Championship quarter-finals.
Klaasen previously competed in the 2009 Premier League, and will get a second chance to compete alongside the sport’s elite stars in the forthcoming season, which begins at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on Thursday February 2.
Belgian star Huybrechts also returns to make his second Premier League appearance, having previously competed in the 2015 tournament, having reached three TV quarter-finals during 2016 and the World Cup of Darts semi-finals alongside brother Ronny.
With the world’s top four players – van Gerwen, Anderson, Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis – qualifying by right, Klaasen and Huybrechts are two of the six Wildcard selections.
Six-time Premier League champion Phil Taylor is a Wildcard for the first time after dropping down to sixth in the PDC Order of Merit, with fellow former champions James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld joining Dave Chisnall in completing the ten-player field.
“As always this was a real tough decision because there are so many great players out there coming through,” said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn. “The Premier League is the pick of the greatest players who we think can give the best entertainment.
“I think we have a quality field, guaranteed a huge number of maximums and a few nine-darters in this year’s Betway Premier League. Darts is not just a world-class sport but world-class entertainment as well.
“Averages that we’ve seen in the past are being comfortably surpassed week-in, week-out, and not just by Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen.
“With the rewards on offer these kids can change their lives through playing professional darts, and we are the beneficiaries because we see world-class sporting entertainment.
“This game is getting bigger and bigger and I’m so proud to be involved with it.”
Hearn also added that some players who missed out on selection for the Betway Premier League are set to feature on the PDC’s World Series of Darts tour throughout 2017.
“The four or five players who didn’t get the pick will be involved this year in Premier League events as Wildcards to ensure that we grow the next generation of superstars.
“Daryl Gurney got really close and we’ll be seeing him in some World Series events as he has another year to grow. Benito van de Pas is another great young player, but we’ve got so much choice that not everybody could get included.”
The Betway Premier League season will see the ten players face each other once over the opening nine weeks before the bottom two players are eliminated following Judgement Night on March 30.
The remaining eight players then compete over the remaining six league nights for places in the top four to progress to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on Thursday May 18, with the semi-finals and final deciding the 2017 champion.
A record £250,000 first prize is on offer for the 2017 Betway Premier League champion, with a £25,000 League Leader’s Bonus also on offer for the player who finishes the regular season at the top of the league table.
Fifth Place £65,000
Sixth Place £55,000
Seventh Place £50,000
Eighth Place £45,000
Ninth Place £30,000
Tenth Place £25,000
League Leader’s Bonus £25,000
Night One – February 2, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Night Two – February 9, Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Night Three – February 16, First Direct Arena, Leeds
Night Four – February 23, The Brighton Centre
Night Five – March 2, Westpoint Arena, Exeter
Night Six – March 9, The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Night Seven – March 16, Rotterdam Ahoy
Night Eight – March 23, The Manchester Arena
Judgement Night – March 30, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Night Ten – April 6, 3Arena, Dublin
Night 11 – April 13, Echo Arena, Liverpool
Night 12 – April 20, The SSE Arena, Belfast
Night 13 – April 27, Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
Night 14 – May 4, The Sheffield Arena
Night 15 – May 11, GE Oil & Gas Arena, Aberdeen
Play-Offs – May 18, The O2, London
Source : PDC
Photo courtesy of Lawrence Lustig / PDC