Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is hungry to retain his McCoy’s Premier League title as the newly formatted tournament kicks-off in Belfast on Thursday night.
Taylor has won six of the past eight competitions and is hoping for more glory in the event which has been extended to 10 players and will feature increased prize money – and relegation after week nine.
“I’m defending champion this year and it is going to be tough. It’s a different format which makes it more interesting for me,” he said.
“When it’s a new tournament I love winning them and I’m really looking forward to this year.
“It’s going to be funny because the new players coming in, although they are experienced, are going to feel the travelling because it is really hard. Most weeks it’s Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday then go home Monday, get your clothes ready on Tuesday and then you are away on Wednesday again and that is for more or less four months.
“So they are going to feel it and I looking forward to it to see how they cope.”
Taylor won his 16th world title on New Year’s Day by beating Michael Van Gerwen to win the inaugural Sid Waddell trophy and he faces the Dutchman on stage tonight.
“It was very very special. Sid was probably one of the closest ones to me in the darts, I miss him dearly, he was a good friend,” Taylor said.
“I had to dig deep in the final at 4-2 down I was thinking ‘ah no’, but Michael was inexperienced in a world final and I knew if I could just pick my form up a little bit I would have a chance to win it and that what was spurring me on.
“Yeah, I’’ve got him tomorrow night. We are last on and he is going to be a little handful. I have got to go out thereand play nice and steady and basically don’t miss.
“Me and Gary Anderson always look at each other and go ‘don’t miss’, and he’ll go ‘I won’t miss, don’t you worry’ so that is the frame of mind you have got to go up there thinking.”
Taylor comes to Belfast on a high after partnering Adrian Lewis to successfully defend England’s World Cup crown in Hamburg last weekend.
“I was alright, Aidy was a bit of a crab apple but we got there in the end and he came good –he played well in that singles match,” Taylor added.
“It was the same for me last year. I didn’t perform as good and he did, so he pulled me through last year and I pulled him through this year.”
The Premier League has gone from strength to strength every year with sell-out venues and live television coverage, but Taylor was sceptical when it started back in 2005.
“When they first mentioned the Premier League, I thought it is not going to work. You’ve no chance of filling venues for one night all round the world basically but we have and it has just got stronger and stronger,” he said.
“I’ve just come back from Dubai and Thailand where I’ve done the press conferences for two new tournaments with the first one in May and we’re doing another one in August in Australia – it’s just going mental.
“We’re doing one in Singapore, one in Boston in America and I’d say we’ll probably do one in Belfast as part of the world tour because it is second to none.”
Taylor has won everything in the game but he still has a burning desire to add to his trophy collection.
“I’m going to keep going and I’m going to do what I can. I’m 53 this year and I’m going to look at 55 to see how I am,” he added.
“I’d say I’m a bit like Roy Keane and Stuart Pearce and those types of players where you’re self motivated and everything you play in you have to win.”