World champion Gerwyn Price returns to action after almost three months on the sidelines as 128 players descend on Milton Keynes this week for Super Series 4.
Price was consigned to a lengthy break after returning a positive Covid Test on the eve of the Premier League, and has been bunkered down in Wales ever since.
“It’s been really frustrating,” said The Iceman, who will be hoping to hit the ground running with a win on day one of the series. “I’m a bit anxious about how I’ll play.”
Clayton’s Claims Hard To Ignore
Super Series 4 comprises the next four Players Championship events (numbers 13-16) and the man they are all trying to topple is not Price, or Michael van Gerwen – it’s Jonny Clayton.
World Cup winner Clayton is enjoying an astonishing year which kicked off with victory in The Masters and was swiftly followed by three final appearances at Super Series 1, one of which yielded a victory.
He duly landed another Players Championship title before claiming the biggest cheque and biggest trophy of his career with victory in the Premier League, seeing off Van Gerwen in the semis and fellow debutant Jose de Sousa in the final.
Clayton tops the Players Championship Order of Merit and he’s going to take all the stopping over the course of this week.
De Sousa Proving He’s De Real Deal
Several overseas stars, among them former winners Max Hopp and Cristo Reyes, have not travelled to the Marshall Arena but it’s still a stellar field featuring the likes of Clayton, Price, Van Gerwen, plus previous 2021 winners of the calibre of Peter Wright, Joe Cullen, Dimitri van den Bergh, Michael Smith and Portuguese ace De Sousa, who made such an impression over the course of his first-ever Premier League season.
De Sousa stunned a lot of punters when he dotted up at the Grand Slam in the autumn but proved it was no fluke by winning PC9 in April and then winning the hearts of arrers fans everywhere with his performances in the Premier League.
De Sousa, officially nicknamed The Special One, unofficially became the Portuguese Man O’Scores for the record-breaking number of maximums he nailed in the Premier League, and it would be astonishing if he doesn’t feature in at least a semi or two over the course of the coming days.
Ratajski Rated to Have a Good Week
Floor events like these away from the glare of the TV lights and the big crowds do attract a certain type of winner and there are a number of players you’d have on a shortlist.
Ian White is a winner of 12 PDC titles but rarely looks like winning one on the telly. So this is his bread and butter. Dirk van Duijvenbode could be a similar sort and having won PC11 will be confident.
And then there’s Krzysztof Ratajski, the Polish Eagle, a six-time tour winner who has yet to get past the last eight in a televised tournament. There should be plenty of interest in him at big odds.