St Helens has emerged as a darts hotspot for talent in recent years with Stephen Bunting, Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall among the world’s biggest names.

But all three have suffered disappointment in their bid to secure a Premier League place after the 10th and final spot went to Welshman Jonny Clayton.

Both Chisnall and Bunting performed brilliantly at the PDC World Championships at Alexandra Palace last month, with the pair both narrowly losing out in the semi-finals.

For Smith, it has always been a matter of when. The 30-year-old has been on the brink of success for a number of years now and has been edging closer towards his a first major.

But, a disappointing second round loss at the World Championships, may have cost him his Premier League place this year.

As a result of the pandemic, nine players were initially selected for the Premier League season, with the remaining place remaining open for a lucky 10th contender.

And Welshman Clayton secured it by winning his first televised PDC title at the Masters, crushing the dreams of the St Helens trio.

Clayton’s gain would have particularly disheartened Chisnall and Smith, who were joint favourites to secure the final spot, while Bunting also found himself among the top 10 to make the cut.

Rob Cross 5:6 Dave Chisnall during PDC Europe Darts Matchplay at Maimarkthalle, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany on 2019-09-08, Photo: Sven Mandel, creative commons licence
Dave Chisnall – Photo by Sven Mandel, under creative commons licence

Looking ahead to 2021, all three Merseyside players will feel a lot more confident than last year.

Chisnall shone at Alexandra Palace, with a 5-0 thrashing over Michael van Gerwen, standing out as one of the more memorable nights he will ever have.

Bunting will also take pride from his showing in North London, defeating James Wade, Ryan Searle and Krzysztof Ratajski, before narrowly losing out to eventual champion, Gerwyn Price.

It remains unseen what Smith does in the remainder of 2021.

He will certainly be looking to swiftly eradicate his first-round loss at the Masters.