BetVictor Darts Masters 2019 Day Two preview and order of play: Big names eyeing strong starts

Jamie Shaw in PDC Darts News 2 Feb 2019
Gerwyn Price celebrates (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

A host of Premier League stars aim to get their 2019 campaigns off to a winning start at the BetVictor Masters in Milton Keynes on Saturday.

The first televised tournament of the season began on Friday, with Michael van Gerwen kick-starting his pursuit of a fifth consecutive Masters title, while Mensur Suljovic produced the performance of the night with a 106 average in a 10-1 rout of Simon Whitlock.

Matches from the bottom half of the draw take centre stage on Day Two, with world finalist Michael Smith aiming to commence what he hopes will be a landmark season in his career by defeating his close friend Ian White.

Premier League runner-up last May, Smith picked up his first televised title at the Shanghai Masters and his progress was recognised by his fellow professionals, who voted him PDPA Players' Player of the Year at the recent PDC Awards Night.

The world number six has won just one match at The Masters (2016) and is looking to make it six wins from his last seven against White.

White was one of a number of high-profile early casualties at the World Championship, losing out to Devon Petersen in a Last 64 thriller, and will be determined to get that defeat out of his system at the first time of asking.

The Stoke star, who finished top of the Players Championship Order of Merit last season, is out to make it fifth time lucky at The Masters, having failed to win a game in each of his previous appearances at Arena MK.

After hitting the headlines off the oche in recent weeks, Gerwyn Price will look to let his darts do the talking when he takes on fellow Premier League player James Wade in the opening match of the evening.

Price was hit with a record £21,500 fine for three separate incidents during last November's Grand Slam - which he won in controversial circumstances - before going on to suffer Last 64 exits in both the Players Championship Finals and World Championship.

The passionate Welshman will be out to avenge his agonising defeat to Wade in October's European Championship Quarter-Finals - where he squandered three match darts in the deciding leg and Wade went on to lift the trophy.

Wade added the World Series Finals title to his belt a week later and with it secured a return to the Premier League after missing out last year.

The left-hander produced one of the best comebacks of all-time to clinch this title in Edinburgh five years ago, recovering from 5-0 and 9-2 down to deny Mervyn King 11-10 in the final.

Adrian Lewis marks his Masters return with a crunch clash against world number three Peter Wright in the final match of the evening.

After a difficult 18 months on and off the oche, Lewis is bidding to recapture the prolific form which led him to back-to-back world titles in 2011 and 2012.

The free-flowing Stoke thrower fluctuated in and out of the world's top 16 last season but a series of impressive displays at the World Championship saw him end the campaign in 14th.

Wright crashed out of the World Championship to Toni Alcinas in a shock Second Round defeat and will be targeting a more consistent campaign in 2019 after arguably proving to be his own downfall by constantly changing his setup last season.

The colourful Scot has bowed out at the Quarter-Final stage in his last four appearances in this elite invitational, the first of which at the hands of Lewis in 2015.

World number two Rob Cross kicks off only his second Masters campaign with a show-down against Joe Cullen - one of three debutants in this year's competition.

Cross surrendered his world title to rival MVG at Alexandra Palace last month and will look to thrive without the added weight of expectation on his shoulders.

The 28-year-old will also have revenge on his mind after squandering a 6-1 lead in an eventual 10-8 defeat to Cullen in the Quarter-Finals of last year's European Championship.

Cullen enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2018, climbing to a career-high ranking of 14 with the aid of runs to the Quarter-Finals of the World Matchplay and Semi-Finals of the European Championship.

The Bradford ace will be keen to build on last season's success in a bid to become a regular contender for major titles, starting this weekend in Milton Keynes.

The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.

BetVictor Masters 2019 Schedule

Saturday February 2

First Round

7.15pm Gerwyn Price v James Wade
8.15pm Rob Cross v Joe Cullen
9.15pm Michael Smith v Ian White
10.15pm Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis

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BetVictor Darts Masters 2019 Day Two preview and order of play: Big names eyeing strong starts

A host of Premier League stars aim to get their 2019 campaigns off to a winning start at the BetVictor Masters in Milton Keynes on Saturday.

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