Dave Chisnall’s failure to qualify for the £825,000 Unibet Premier Darts League will hit his pocket hard.
The St Helens-born star of the oche, who had competed in the lucrative competition four years on the trot, didn’t make the final cut for the 2018 event on results covering the past 12 months.
Neither did his St Helens-based pal, Stephen Bunting, whose last appearance was in 2015.
The 10-strong line-up, however, will include their ‘stablemate,’ Michael Smith, who will be joined by new world champion Rob Cross (England), Gary Anderson (Scotland), Daryl Gurney (Ireland), Gerwyn Price (Wales), Mensur Suljovic (Serbia), Raymond van Barneveld (Holland), Simon Whitlock (Australia), Peter Wright (Scotland) and holder Michael van Gerwen (Holland),
It will be Smith’s second appearance in the tournament, having qualified for the 2016 showdown but ‘Bully Boy’ will be hoping to perform better than two years ago when he finished bottom of the league.
The winner will received prize money of £250,000 and this will be scaled down to the lowest pay out of £25,000 awarded to the player finishing at the basement of the table in a 16 week competition which gets under way in Dublin on Thursday, February 1.
The 10 players will face each other once over the first nine weeksfore the bottom two will be eliminated following Judgement Night at The SSE Arena in Belfast on Thursday March 29.
The remaining eight players then meet for a second time in the league before the top four players progress to compete in the play-offs at The O2 in London on Thursday, May 17.
It will be the first time since the tournament was introduced in 2005 that will not involve Mr Darts Phil Taylor, who retired following the World Championship final.
Former champion James Wade, 2011 finalist Adrian Lewis, Jelle Klaasen, Kim Huybrechts aand Chizzy also drop out.
Darts supremo Barry Hearn said: “The tournament is growing in strength each year with players now competing from all parts of the world and this year some of well-known names are missing due to the ever-increasing standards of the sport.”
Odds: van Gerwen 4/5 favourite. Cross 7/2, Anderson 11/2, Wright 8/1, Gurney and van Barneveld 33/1, Suljovic 40/1, Smith 66/1, Price 80/1, Whitlock 150/1