Kevin Painter insists he won’t be fazed by playing in front of big crowds as he gears up for his Premier League debut.
The Northamptonshire darts star has been rewarded for claiming his first major title when he won the PDC Players Championship last month with a place in the McCoy’s Premier League Darts – the eighth event of its kind.
It will see him compete alongside seven of the world’s best players for 14 consecutive weeks at some of the biggest arenas in the United Kingdom before the top four battle it out in the play-offs at the O2 Arena in London on May 17.
‘The Artist’, who is currently ranked 10 in the world, was one of the PDC’s wildcard picks alongside world finalist Andy ‘The Hammer’ Hamilton while Simon Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld were the other wildcards picked by Sky Sports, who will screen every week live.
World number one Phil Taylor, world champion Adrian Lewis, James Wade and last year’s winner Gary Anderson all qualified by right as the top four ranked players.
The winner will claim the £150,000 first prize while the player who finishes eighth is already guaranteed £25,000.
The Premier League kicks off at the Manchester MEN on February 9 and Daventry-based Painter was delighted to get the nod from the PDC when the participants were announced at their annual awards evening.
“I always thought I would have a chance of getting a place but you are never sure because there are so many good players around,” Painter said.
“Winning my first major television title was obviously the key element and without that I wouldn’t have got in unless I had a good run at the World Championships like Andy Hamilton did.
“I just can’t wait for it to start now. I think it will suit me.
“I have played in front of big crowds before and it has always brought the best out of me.
“I have played in a world final and I now have a major under my belt.
“I am not worried about the big crowds, I like that sort of environment.
“I am just happy to be in it. I think myself and Andy have been recognised for what we have done recently and it nice that the people at the top of the PDC have noticed it.
“It’s going to be an incredible experience and I am extremely excited about it.”
The League will visit venues such as the Birmingham NIA, Liverpool Echo Arena and the Odyssey Arena in Belfast before the big night in London and the players face each other twice over the 14 weeks.
“I am not going to make any bold predictions about winning it,” Painter added.
“Hopefully the whole experience will make me play well and we will see how it goes.
“I am going to enjoy it and playing 14 weeks on the trot can only be a good thing for practice, especially against such good players.”