Colin Lloyd ponders future of darts’ Premier League, dream debuts and the form of Gary Anderson

With the future of the Premier League’s contenders format subject to debate,  Colin Lloyd is of the belief that only the world’s leading players should be rewarded with a spot in one of darts’ most lucrative competitions.

Luke Humphries made history on Night Five in Exeter as he beat Gary Anderson to become the first challenger ever to win a Premier League match, while Fallon Sherrock and Stephen Bunting both secured draws on their appearances. One-sided defeats for their six fellow contenders, however, invited further uncertainty over motivation for continuing with the feature.

Nevertheless, after the longest campaign in Premier League history it was the two debutants, Glen Durrant and Nathan Aspinall, who faced off in the final having both competed as challengers the previous year.

“Talking about the contenders’ side of things, I don’t know,” said Lloyd on The Darts Show Podcast. “I did like the idea but I’m not so sure anymore. It’s just like a one-night spoiler.

“I would be inclined to have the top 10 ranked players in the world. There could be no arguments. Barry Hearn has always said, ‘if you’re a winner, you’ll get rewarded’. Get yourself up in the rankings and you will be rewarded.

“That would be Premier League places, World Series events, the world would be your oyster. People pay good money to come and watch the Premier League and they want to see the best players in the world.

“I’m not saying the contenders are not great players, but it’s one-night spoilers. Let the top 10 battle it out.”

As it stands, the top-10 Order of Merit does not include recent Premier League champion Durrant or World Matchplay winner Dimitri Van den Bergh.

“You’ve got to have the defending champion in, of course you’ve got to have the defending champion in,” added Lloyd. “I’m just saying as an instance.

“But I don’t think you should be rewarded for being say No 39 in the world or No 50-odd. For me, that’s not cutting it, that’s not good enough for me. Reward people that are getting results.”

Durrant came away a worthy winner earlier this month having dominated a disrupted league stage with 21 points, maintaining his momentum even after the sport’s hiatus.

Finals night proved understandably cagey after three of the four men involved had been eliminated in the first round of the World Grand Prix the previous week, Anderson eventually losing to beaten finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode in the quarters.

“The pressure was massively on Glen I think because he’d done so well in the league phase that he probably just wanted to get it all over and done with and thought to himself, ‘I think I’m going to win this’, whereas he probably came back thinking, ‘well I hope I can win it now’,” continued Lloyd.

“With all the unnecessary flak that Glen has received over his time, he played very solid in the league phase. I did actually predict, I said I thought he would carry on that consistency and go on and win it which he did.”

Although the night belonged to Durrant, Aspinall again produced the kind of valiant display that has propelled him to a place among the world’s elite, a break in the 14th leg proving decisive after the pair had refused to be split for much of the contest.

“He’s not new to the game,” said Lloyd. “He’s been playing the game long enough now. He’s done back to back World Championship semi-finals and people seem to forget he is a major winner. He won the UK Open final.

“He is gritty and determined about darts, he wants to achieve. It’s not a case of ‘right I’m going to sit back now and it’s all going to come to me now’, he keeps working every day.

“He’ll have gone away from the Premier League disappointed, of course he will have done, but do you know what, who would have predicted right at the beginning that the two debutants would be competing in the final? I don’t think there would have been many.”

There was, meanwhile, disappointment for world champion Peter Wright and his fellow World Cup-winning Scot Anderson, the latter of whom had relinquished a 9-7 lead in his semi-final against Durrant having done so well to overturn an early deficit.

“My personal view, I don’t like them darts,” admitted Lloyd. “I think with those darts, there are flashes of brilliance but there’s also a lot of bad stuff that goes with it and I just think he’s a little bit too erratic with those darts.

“There’s no consistency there, whereas when he uses a straight barrel I think he scores a lot heavier, there’s not the loose darts and I think he finishes a lot better, but that’s just my opinion.”

Darts in back on Sky Sports in November with a double bill, starting with three days of coverage from the World Cup of Darts (Nov 6-8) and continuing with nine days of the Grand Slam of Darts which gets underway on November 16.

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