THE Unibet Premier League's Contenders concept could continue in 2020, PDC Chairman Barry Hearn has revealed.
The withdrawal of Gary Anderson from this year's Premier League as the two-time champion underwent treatment for a back problem led to the introduction of a Contender for each of the opening nine nights.
The Contenders gained valuable Premier League experience, while Newcastle's Chris Dobey, Ireland's Steve Lennon, Scottish star John Henderson, Germany's Max Hopp and Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan got to take to the stage in their local area.
We don't know about you, but we feel well and truly Scottish right about now 🏴🏴🏴— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) March 7, 2019
Hairs on the back of the neck walk on from Big John Henderson as he makes his Premier League debut in Aberdeen #Unibet180 pic.twitter.com/vg5FDc2zgE
Points gained by the Contenders did not count towards the league table, with only the ninth-placed player eliminated on Judgement Night before the remaining eight players then battled for the title in the second half of the season.
World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh and young prospect Luke Humphries joined Dobey and Henderson in claiming memorable draws in their appearances, with Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant and UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall also competing on the Premier League stage this season.
DRAW!— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) March 27, 2019
A superb game as James Wade and Dimitri Van den Bergh battle out a draw here...
Following Michael van Gerwen's victory in the Play-Offs on Thursday night, PDC Chairman Barry Hearn admits that the idea will be reviewed ahead of the 2020 Unibet Premier League and could evolve or expand in future.
"I think it worked," said Hearn. "Some of the matches produced electric atmospheres and the guys played well.
"One of the things we have to do is build characters for the future, and to build them properly they have got to be exposed to the general public and have experience on the big stage.
"The Contenders gave them a chance to show their wares. It will be on the agenda at the next PDC Board meeting.
"We've got to constantly evolve and we can't get complacent - we've got to keep pushing the boundaries, keep being creative, innovate and take risks and we will do that."
2019 Unibet Premier League
Night One - Chris Dobey 6-6 Mensur Suljovic
Night Two - Daryl Gurney 7-3 Glen Durrant
Night Three - Steve Lennon 5-7 Peter Wright
Night Four - Luke Humphries 6-6 Gerwyn Price
Night Five - Michael van Gerwen 6-6 John Henderson
Night Six - Nathan Aspinall 2-7 Michael Smith
Night Seven - Max Hopp 3-7 Raymond van Barneveld
Night Eight - James Wade 6-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Night Nine - Rob Cross 7-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan