The majority of darts fans were delighted to see James Wade reinstated to this year's Premier League, and his inclusion has been justified with a couple of stunning performances, which have enabled him to collect five points from his opening four matches.
At the age of 25, Wade became the youngest ever player to secure a PDC title back in 2007, but despite flirting with the top spot on numerous occasions, he has so far been unable to secure world number one status. He was also successful in the 2009 Premier League, and he'll be hoping to replicate that triumph in this year's tournament. His unlikely 7-3 success over Michael Van Gerwen at the end of February showed that he is able to compete with the best, and many punters have already snapped up the double-figure price available on the Hampshire-born thrower.
WADE BEATS MVG! ⚙️— Live Darts (@livedarts) February 28, 2019
James Wade closes out a sensational 7-3 victory over reigning champion Michael van Gerwen to end the Dutchman's 100% start to the season! 👏 #PremierLeagueDarts pic.twitter.com/qtPczWQIvS
As of March 22nd, James Wade is available at 14/1 in the latest Premier League Darts betting, and the three-time World Championship backed up his thrashing of the world number one by whitewashing Daryl Gurney in Aberdeen the following week. A defeat to Mensur Suljovic followed that, but the Machine rescued a draw against Peter Wright in Berlin most recently and is well-positioned in third place.
Unsurprisingly, Michael Van Gerwen began the year as the odds-on favourite to secure a fourth consecutive Premier League success, and after opening with three successive victories, he looked on course for an unprecedented fifth title, but he has been well below his best in recent weeks. Including his defeat to Wade, the Dutchman has picked up just one victory in his last four Premier League matches, and this has led to him being supplanted at the top of the table by 2018 world champion Rob Cross. delivered a below-par performance against Wade. A fourth-round defeat at the UK Open was sandwiched between these displays, with former player Colin Lloyd even suggesting that the Dutchman may need to take a short break in order to return to peak form.
The Premier League season may still have some way to go, but James Wade is averaging over 100 for the tournament and boasts the highest checkout percentage of all nine regular competitors.
Wade isn't a universally popular character, but his ability is undeniable. He's had his fair share of demons to battle over the last few years, but there are currently signs that he is beginning to return to his best. The Machine was victorious in the 2018 World Series of Darts, and more recently reached the final of the Masters, before being denied a second title in the event by Van Gerwen. He also recently reached the last 16 of the UK Open, and on current form, he can't be ruled out of a tilt at July's World Matchplay in Blackpool.
Wade may be frustrating on occasion, but on current form, the Machine looks like one of the likeliest candidates to end the Dutchman's dominance in the Premier League this season.