Aussie ace Corey Cadby aims to dethrone the defending champion (credit:PDC)
The penultimate World Series event of the season kicks off in Melbourne on Friday as the eight PDC invites take on the Oceanic qualifiers in Round One.
The tournament is the fourth of five World Series events to be held in 2019 before the World Series Finals in November and is the second of three Oceanic events in consecutive weeks.
An incredible story last time out saw home hero Damon Heta claim a fairy-tale first televised title at the Brisbane Masters on his 32nd birthday, defeating four major champions along the way.
Heta began his Brisbane campaign as a 150/1 rank outsider, but now launches his quest for back-to-back silverware at just 33/1.
He starts out against a familiar opponent in James Wade, the man he defeated 6-5 in the opening round a week ago, as ‘The Machine’ looks to gain his revenge after letting a 5-3 lead slip and witnessing his opponent produce a tide-turning 164 checkout.
Peter Wright, the number one seed, commences his defence of his title with a mouth-watering clash against former UK Open finalist Corey Cadby.
Both players crashed out at the first hurdle last week, with Cadby averaging just 87 in a 6-1 rout at the hands of Gary Anderson, while Wright squandered five match darts in a deciding leg defeat to Kyle Anderson.
Cadby does have experience of beating ‘Snakebite’ in the World Series, having done so in the First Round of the 2017 Auckland Masters en route to finishing runner-up.
Michael van Gerwen, who is currently outside of the top eight on the World Series Order of Merit, looks to kick-start a run to the glory by seeing off DPA qualifier Tim Pusey.
Van Gerwen, who is now 86 days without a PDC title, has failed to surpass the Quarter-Final stage in each of his three World Series campaigns so far this year.
The world number one and World Champion will be desperate to hit the ground running in Melbourne and lay down a marker as he faces a player who gave a fine account of himself on his World Series debut 12 months ago.
Pusey, runner-up in the 2018 Oceanic Masters, was beaten in the opening round of all three Oceanic World Series events last year but will look to build on that experience and feed off the partisan home crowd in one of the biggest matches of his career to date.
Gary Anderson looks to remain on course for a Quarter-Final show-down with MVG by overcoming DPA number two James Bailey.
Anderson’s failure to surpass the Quarter-Final stage in three World Series appearances so far this term means he is unseeded heading into this event, but the Champions League of Darts winner will look to build up a head of steam against the rank outsider.
Bailey, however, will be quietly confident of pulling off an upset having pushed Rob Cross all the way to a deciding leg in Brisbane, but the Oceanic Master is likely to require an improvement on his match average of 87.5 if he is to do so.
Australia’s number one opens up the tournament as Simon Whitlock faces debutant qualifier Mick Lacey, while Queensland debutant Robbie King faces a formidable task against reigning World Matchplay champion Cross.
Raymond van Barneveld looks to repeat the dose on New Zealand’s Haupai Puha after his 6-2 victory in their First Round encounter a week ago, with a meeting against either Wright or Cadby up for grabs.
Former Auckland Masters champion Kyle Anderson aims to bounce back from his whitewash defeat to Whitlock in last week’s Quarter-Finals but faces a tough opener against Players Champion Daryl Gurney – who knocked out MVG en route to the Semi-Finals in Brisbane.
The action gets underway from 10am BST (7pm local time), with all matches to be contested over the best of 15 legs.
Television coverage in the UK is delayed until 7pm, however you can watch every match LIVE via the link below.
Melbourne Darts Masters 2019 Match Schedule
Friday August 16
10.15am Simon Whitlock v Mick Lacey
10.45am Raymond van Barneveld v Haupai Puha
11.15am Daryl Gurney v Kyle Anderson
11.45am Gary Anderson v James Bailey
12.15pm Peter Wright v Corey Cadby
12.45pm James Wade v Damon Heta
1.15pm Michael van Gerwen v Tim Pusey
1.45pm Rob Cross v Robbie King