McCOY^S PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS EXPANDED TO TEN PLAYERS AS TRIO EARN DEBUTS
THE McCoy^s Premier League Darts will feature TEN players in 2013 under a new format which was announced on Wednesday evening, with Michael van Gerwen, Wes Newton and Robert Thornton to make their debuts in the tournament.
A radical change will see the field expanded from eight players to feature ten stars this year as they compete across 15 nights in the UK and Ireland^s biggest arenas.
The ten players will face each other once over the opening nine weeks of the tournament, over the best of 12 legs, before the bottom two players in the league table are relegated following the ninth league night in Brighton.
The remaining eight players will then face each other again over the remaining five league nights before the top four progress to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 16.
Reigning McCoy^s Premier League Darts champion Phil Taylor - who won the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship on Tuesday - will head the field of ten players, alongside 2009 winner James Wade and 2011 champion Gary Anderson.
They are joined by established Premier League stars Adrian Lewis, Simon Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld, while Andy Hamilton retains his place in the tournament following an impressive debut season in 2012.
World Grand Prix champion Michael van Gerwen, who has risen to fourth in the PDC Order of Merit following his run to the World Championship final, will make his McCoy^s Premier League Darts debut this season alongside two other new faces, Wes Newton and Robert Thornton.
Newton^s status amongst the world^s elite was confirmed when he reached September^s European Championship final, while Scottish star Thornton claimed the UK Open title in June with a thrilling victory over Taylor in Bolton.
"This new format for the McCoy^s Premier League Darts is going to take the tournament to a whole new level," said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.
"Fans across the UK and Ireland will experience five spectacular matches on each night, and all ten players have earned their spots with their achievements over the last 12 months.
"This new format will mean incredible competition both to avoid relegation and then for Play-Off places before the ninth McCoy^s Premier League champion is crowned at The O2 in May."
The McCoy^s Premier League Darts, screened live on Sky Sports HD, will begin on Thursday February 7 at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast before travelling to Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Exeter, Nottingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Brighton for the first phase of the event.
The final five league nights will be held in Sheffield, Dublin, Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle before the top four players progress to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 16.
The McCoy^s Premier League Darts competitors are:
Phil Taylor - reigning and six-time Premier League Darts champion
Adrian Lewis - two-time World Champion
James Wade - 2009 Premier League Darts champion
Michael van Gerwen - 2012 World Grand Prix champion
Simon Whitlock - 2012 European Champion
Andy Hamilton - 2012 Premier League Darts semi-finalist
Wes Newton - 2012 European Championship finalist
Raymond van Barneveld - five-time World Champion
Gary Anderson - 2011 Premier League Darts champion
Robert Thornton - 2012 UK Open champion
2013 McCoy^s Premier League Darts
|Night One||Thursday February 7||Odyssey Arena, Belfast|
|Night Two||Thursday February 14||AECC, Aberdeen|
|Night Three||Thursday February 21||BIC, Bournemouth|
|Night Four||Thursday February 28||Westpoint Arena, Exeter|
|Night Five||Thursday March 7||Capital FM Arena, Nottingham|
|Night Six||Thursday March 14||Manchester Arena|
|Night Seven||Thursday March 21||Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff|
|Night Eight||Thursday March 28||SECC, Glasgow|
|Night Nine||Thursday April 4||The Brighton Centre|
|Night Ten||Thursday April 11||Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield|
|Night 11||Thursday April 18||The O2, Dublin|
|Night 12||Thursday April 25||NIA, Birmingham|
|Night 13||Thursday May 2||Echo Arena, Liverpool|
|Night 14||Thursday May 9||Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle|
|Play-Offs||Thursday May 16||The O2, London|