AT A GLANCE
When? Thursday 1st February
Where? 3Arena Dublin
What channel is it on? Sky Sports Action, Sky Sports Mix
Are tickets still available? www.ticketmaster.ie
Where can I stream the match? Sky Sports subscribers can stream the match online via Sky Go
Mensur Suljovic 5-4 Simon Whitlock
- Popular Austrian star Mensur Suljovic is making his Premier League debut in this year’s competition. One of the most consistent players on tour over the last couple of years, he is ranked 6th in the PDC Order of Merit.
- Last September, Suljovic claimed the biggest win of his career when he won the Champions League of Darts tournament in Cardiff – an event which features only the top eight ranked players in the PDC. Suljovic completed wins over Peter Wright, Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson (twice) during his run to the title.
- Suljovic comes into this match on the back of reaching the semi-finals at the 2018 Unibet Masters last weekend, and on his way to the final four he claimed a very notable win over the current PDC World Champion Rob Cross.
- Simon Whitlock is competing in the Premier League for the sixth time; he is making his first appearance in the tournament since 2014 when he finished bottom of the table and was eliminated after week nine. Whitlock has finished second in the league phase of the Premier League on two occasions (2010 and 2012), and went on to reach the final in 2012 where he lost 10-7 to Phil Taylor.
- Although Whitlock won three PDC ranking events during 2017, his most significant tournament performance during the year was in October at the World Grand Prix where he reached the final before losing 5-4 to Daryl Gurney. On his way to reaching the final he defeated Mensur Suljovic in the semi-finals, a win that ended a five-match losing streak against the Austrian stretching back to 2013.
- Whitlock suffered a disappointing first round exit to James Wade at the 2018 Unibet Masters last weekend – this defeat continued a recent poor run of results in TV tournaments; he has won just two of his last nine TV matches.
The opening match of the 2018 Premier League sees debutant Mensur Suljovic face former finalist Simon Whitlock who has plenty of previous Premier League experience to draw upon.
Given that this is the opening game of the tournament, there may be some nerves evident from both in front of a huge crowd in Dublin. Suljovic is used to the big stage of course, having played in many big TV tournaments over the last few years but how he adapts to the Premier League is unknown. Whitlock wasn’t an obvious choice from everyone to be in the field for the 2018 Premier League and his recent form isn’t convincing.
Suljovic enters the match on the back of some positive performances last weekend at the Unibet Masters, and has more confidence and consistency than Whitlock which could well result in a win on his Premier League debut.