We’re already into the second month of 2022 and the world of professional darts is in full swing.
The first major tournament of the year, The Masters, has taken place, and the somewhat surprise winner was Joe Cullen, who landed his first televised title at the expense of Dave Chisnall.
It’s a win that has earned Cullen a spot in the next big event on the PDC calendar, the Premier League, and the form he showed in Milton Keynes – the ‘Rockstar’ averaged 99 or higher in three of his five matches – suggests he is a dangerous contender for the title. In the darts betting from Betfair, he is priced as generously as +1400, and there will be plenty of interest from punters.
As confirmed by the latest darts news, the Premier League will be contested by just eight players in 2022, and the PDC Tour’s other talented stars will be watching on with interest as they plot their own year ahead. To mark your card, here are five darts pros who could really shine in 2022.
With his flowing locks and ‘Heavy Metal’ nickname, Ryan Searle does not come across as the archetypal dart player.
But the 34-year-old has been steadily improving since earning his PDC Tour Card in 2017, and three turns in the last 16 of the World Championship – and a quarter-final berth at the World Grand Prix – has been trumped by a run to the final of the Players Championship, where he lost to subsequent world champ Peter Wright.
A former Pro Tour winner, Searle is gaining plenty of experience on the big TV stages, and the world number 16 looks set to gate-crash the elite in 2022.
A former world youth champion, Luke Humphries continues to impress with his high-scoring exploits.
The 26-year-old has already enjoyed three runs to the quarter-finals of the World Championship, and it bodes very nicely for him that the Alexandra Palace stage seems to bring the best out of his game.
‘Cool Hand Luke’ was also the first Premier League ‘challenger’ to win a game, defeating Gary Anderson back in 2020, and Humphries has all of the hallmarks of a big match player. Already a UK Open finalist, expect the Berkshire thrower to win his first PDC title in 2022.
For casual darts fans, the first glimpse they would have got of Callan Rydz was at the 2022 World Championship, where he blitzed Yuki Yamada, Brendan Dolan, and Nathan Aspinall without dropping a set.
The 23-year-old later took Wright all the way to a deciding set in the quarter-finals, and he showed so much scoring power and poise in front of the TV cameras that a stellar year ahead looks to be a formality.
The extent of Danny Noppert’s talents has been known for some time – in 2017, he reached the final of the BDO World Championships and won the prestigious Finder Masters.
But it took the 31-year-old some time to adjust to life as a professional on the PDC circuit, and it wasn’t until 2021 that he showed more consistent glimpses of his talent.
He reached the semis and quarters of the World Grand Prix and European Championship back-to-back, and those experiences will stand him in excellent stead heading into 2022.
At just 19, Keane Barry is one of the youngest professional darts players on the planet.
He’s already amassed an impressive trophy cabinet too, having twice won the JDC World Championship and the BDO version, as well as an array of other ‘junior’ titles.
In amongst the big boys, the Irishman is already thriving. He reached the third round of the UK Open in 2021 and secured one of the biggest wins of his career to date on the Alexandra Palace stage when he overcame Royden Lam in the first round of the World Championship in December.
In the second round, Barry gave one of the pre-tournament favorites – Jonny Clayton – an almighty headache, winning two of the five sets played and averaging almost 96.
He, like the other players on this list, looks destined for big things in 2022.