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MVG to open Premier League defence against Taylor

ESPN staff
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Michael van Gerwen is aiming for a second successive Premier League title © Getty Images
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Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his Premier League title against 16-time world champion Phil Taylor, the PDC has confirmed.

Van Gerwen, recently crowned world champion for the first time following his victory over Peter Wright at Alexandra Palace, takes on the 'Power' in what will be a rematch of the 2013 Premier League final.

The pair have enjoyed a strong rivalry on the oche ever since Taylor defeated the Dutchman in the final of the 2013 PDC World Championship.

Return of the greatest?

  • What a way to open the 2014 Premier League Darts - the 2012 champion against the 2013 champion. 'The Greatest' against the hottest name in world darts. Phil Taylor against Michael van Gerwen.
  • This year's event has the potential to be the greatest yet. Newcomers Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall both have the capability of producing explosive performances on the big stage; it is paramount they get off to a flier because, as Adrian Lewis found out in 2012 when he was dumped out of the competition in week eight, things can soon get on top of you.
  • This tournament is played over nine weeks initially before two drop out, buried in a schedule jammed with floor tournaments - essentially, all ten players will not stop until April. Considering this, expect an open tournament full of thrills, spills and upsets along the way.
  • Rob Bartlett, ESPN Assistant Editor

Wright was handed his Premier League bow after a brilliant run to the Ally Pally final and will face Wes Newton in his opening match at Liverpool's Echo Arena on February 6.

Fellow debutant Dave Chisnall takes on Robert Thornton, while Raymond van Barneveld starts his tournament against Gary Anderson. Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis kicks off against Simon Whitlock.

Fixtures have been announced for the first nine weeks of the event, with the bottom two players in the table being dropped after week nine's 'Judgement Night' in Cardiff on April 3. Matches for weeks 10 to 15 will be confirmed after two players are eliminated before the final night of play-offs takes place at London's O2 Arena on May 22.

'Jackpot' Lewis will face mentor Taylor in week two and week four sees an all-Dutch clash between Van Barneveld and Van Gerwen.

Lewis faces Van Gerwen in week five while Van Barneveld and Taylor will rekindle their long-standing duel on week eight. 'Judgement Night' sees Lewis take on the five-time world champion 'Barney' while newcomers Chisnall and Wright face potential relegation battles with Newton and Anderson respectively.

Meanwhile, Ted Hankey has opted not to enter PDC Qualifying School in order to gain a Tour card. 'The Count', a two-time world champion, will return to the BDO code to continue his professional career following two years with the PDC since his decision to switch in 2012.

Former world titlist Christian Kist is one of a record 360 entries attempting to gain a place on the PDC Tour, along with Kyle Anderson, who famously hit a nine-dart finish during the world championship at Alexandra Palace.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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