Hamilton and Painter to debut in McCoy's Premier League
The McCoy's Premier League Darts will feature debutants Andy Hamilton and Kevin Painter in 2012 after the line-up for the eight-man tournament was announced on Monday.
Hamilton is rewarded for his run to the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship final and rise to seventh in the PDC Order of Merit with a place in the event, while Painter's maiden major triumph at the Cash Converters Players Championship has seen him handed the second PDC Wildcard selection.
The duo join the PDC's top four players - Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Gary Anderson - in competing in the McCoy's Premier League Darts, with Australian Simon Whitlock and Holland's Raymond van Barneveld completing the line-up as the Sky Sports Wildcards.
The eight players were confirmed at the PDC Annual Awards Dinner on Monday night alongside the announcement of leading crisp brand McCoy's as the title sponsors of Premier League Darts, which begins at the Manchester Arena on Thursday February 9.
In addition, prize money will increase to a total of £450,000, with £150,000 to the champion, £70,000 to the runner-up, £50,000 to the semi-finalists, £40,000 to fifth place, £35,000 to sixth place, £30,000 for the seventh place and £25,000 to the player who finishes eighth.
"I'm delighted to welcome McCoy's as sponsors of what promises to be the best-ever Premier League Darts," said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.
"The form of Andy Hamilton and Kevin Painter recently has seen them earn deserved Wildcards to play in the McCoy's Premier League, and I'm sure they will add great colour and quality to the tournament. Simon Whitlock was sensational in reaching the World Championship semi-finals and Raymond van Barneveld remains one of the most popular players throughout the darts world. With Gary Anderson defending his title, Adrian Lewis coming into the tournament as a two-time World Champion and Phil Taylor and James Wade looking to win back the Premier League trophy, we're all hugely excited ahead of the tournament starting in Manchester next month."
Hamilton's run to the World Championship final followed his progression to the World Matchplay semi-finals last July, and he joins Stoke pair Taylor and Lewis in competing in the event.
Painter, the 2004 World Championship runner-up, claimed his first major title at the Cash Converters Players Championship in December and has moved back up to tenth in the PDC Order of Merit.
Taylor had won the first four Premier League Darts titles before Wade claimed victory in 2009 - only for the Stoke great to reclaim the trophy when he hit two nine-dart finishes in the 2010 final.
Scottish star Anderson took the 2011 Premier League Darts title, celebrating his debut season by defeating Lewis in the final.
The McCoy's Premier League Darts begins at the Manchester Arena on Thursday February 9, and runs for 14 consecutive weeks as the eight stars play each other twice in the league phase, before the top four players progress to the Play-Offs at The O2 in London on May 17.
The tournament moves from Manchester to Aberdeen, Belfast, Exeter, Brighton and Glasgow before making its Dublin debut at The O2 on Thursday March 22.
Visits to Cardiff, Nottingham, Sheffield, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Birmingham and Newcastle follow before the Play-Offs are contested at The O2 in London.
William Hill, the Official Betting Partner of the McCoy's Premier League Darts, make Phil Taylor the 6/4 favourite, with Adrian Lewis the 7/2 second favourite.
Their full outright odds are:
6/4 Phil Taylor
7/2 Adrian Lewis
9/2 Gary Anderson
6/1 James Wade
7/1 Simon Whitlock
14/1 Kevin Painter
16/1 Raymond van Barneveld
16/1 Andy Hamilton
E/W 1/3 1-2
Odds supplied by William Hill, the Official Betting Partner of the McCoy's Premier League Darts
Tickets for the 2012 Premier League Darts cost £35 for floor table seats and £20 for tiered seating plus booking fee (€40/€25 plus booking fee in Dublin), and are still available from each individual venues' Box Office. Full details are available at www.pdc.tv.
McCoy's Premier League Darts
Night One Thurs Feb 9 Manchester Arena
Night Two Thurs Feb 16 AECC, Aberdeen
Night Three Thurs Feb 23 Odyssey Arena, Belfast
Night Four Thurs Mar 1 Westpoint Arena, Exeter
Night Five Thurs Mar 8 The Brighton Centre
Night Six Thurs Mar 15 SECC, Glasgow
Night Seven Thurs Mar 22 The O2, Dublin
Night Eight Thurs Mar 29 Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Night Nine Thurs Apr 5 Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
Night Ten Thurs Apr 12 Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield
Night 11 Thurs Apr 19 BIC, Bournemouth
Night 12 Thurs Apr 26 Echo Arena, Liverpool
Night 13 Thurs May 3 NIA, Birmingham
Night 14 Thurs May 10 Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Play-Offs Thurs May 17 The O2, London