DARTs LEGEND Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor says Leeds’ First Direct Arena is one of the best venues in the country for his sport.
Taylor and nine other top players will take to the stage in Leeds tonight for the opening round of the 2015 Betway Premier League.
Leeds was chosen to host the tournament’s launch night after a crowd of 10,500 attended PDC darts’ first visit to the city last year.
A full house of 11,293 is expected tonight and 16-time world champion Taylor said: “Leeds has probably become one of the best venues we do.
“I liked it last year, because the stage is close to the crowd, it’s situated perfectly so everybody can see and they aren’t far away. It is going to be buzzing. I know we’ve sold 11,000 tickets and that’s unbelievable.
“I think it’s the best one to kick off with. To me Leeds should either be the first one or the last one, it’s as good as The O2 I think.”
Taylor added: “It is the first one, so nobody wants to lose. You have to get stuck in and try and shut the crowd out. We do play week-in and week-out, so you do get used to it. You go out there and it’s like Russell Crowe in Gladiator when he first walks in the arena and looks around. It is that inspiring, it is awesome.”
Taylor will be in the fourth match on stage when he faces Gary Anderson in a rematch of last month’s classic world final, which the Scotsman won in a deciding set.
“They are all tough matches now,” Taylor said. “Gary is just one of them. He has done well the last few months, but they are all good players now. There’s no easy games any more.”
Despite being at the top of his sport for a quarter of a century, Taylor – the greatest player of all time – insisted he is still hungry for success.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “I love the youngsters coming through, it is a good challenge for me. It is something I look forward to. I am 55 this year, but I am still enjoying it and I want to improve. That’s my goal for this year, to try and be better than I was last year.
“But as you get older you have to work harder and that’s what I am going to do. I want to win every title, I don’t like to lose so I am after everything this year.”
At the other end of the scale, Stephen Bunting will make his Premier League debut when he takes on James Wade in the final match tonight.
The former BDO champion is in his second year with the PDC and he said: “The last year’s been a bit of a blur, coming over (from the BDO) as world champion. I think the confidence that came with that pushed me through the season. When I moved over I never expected I’d be in the Premier League.
“I am so, so happy to be in this, it is a special tournament.”
Tonight’s action begins at 7pm.