The fifth and final World Series event of the season reaches its climax in Hamilton on Saturday as the eight remaining players battle it out for the inaugural New Zealand Masters title.
Following the close of play on Saturday, the eight seeds for November’s World Series Finals will be confirmed according to the final World Series Order of Merit.
Seven of the eight PDC invites safely progressed through Friday’s opening round at the Claudelands Arena, with Simon Whitlock the sole casualty.
Whitlock was dumped out by an inspired Ben Robb – the DPA qualifier who became only the second Kiwi player to claim a win on home soil as he moved into the Quarter-Finals for the first time.
Robb’s reward is a show-down with world number two Rob Cross – who averaged 99.8 in a commanding 6-2 win over veteran Warren Parry.
Cross was runner-up in Brisbane a fortnight ago and is looking to add this title to last month’s World Matchplay triumph, though he is housed in the same section of the draw as Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson.
Tungsten titans Van Gerwen and Anderson face off for the second time in seven days as the world number one looks to record a fourth straight win over the Scot.
Van Gerwen prevailed 8-6 in the Quarter-Finals a week ago en route to winning the title in Melbourne but was far below his best yesterday as he survived four match darts from Kyle Anderson before snatching a last-leg victory.
Van Gerwen averaged just 92 in his opening salvo, but that was incredibly eight points more than Anderson – who overcame Kiwi star Haupai Puha 6-3 amid a painful bout of toothache.
World Champion MVG will now look to pile further pain on the Champions League of Darts winner – whose last head-to-head success came in last November’s Grand Slam Semi-Finals.
The opening Quarter-Final sees top seed Peter Wright take on James Wade for the second time in this year’s World Series.
Wright wrapped up an 8-4 victory in the Semi-Finals of last month’s German Masters en route to claiming the title and is looking to cement the number one seeding going into the finals in Amsterdam later this year.
Wright was also a semi-finalist in Las Vegas and Melbourne and made light work of Brisbane Masters champion Damon Heta in Friday’s opener – running out a clear 6-1 winner.
Wade, meanwhile, narrowly averted a third consecutive First Round exit in this month’s Oceanic tour as he came from 5-3 down to deny New Zealand’s Craig Caldwell in a deciding leg with the aid of a pivotal 140 checkout.
Wade is the reigning World Series Finals champion but came into this event ranked outside the top eight in the Order of Merit and must now better Raymond van Barneveld’s run in Hamilton if he is to break into the seeded spots.
Van Barneveld’s final professional tournament in the Oceanic region sees him now face Players Champion Daryl Gurney in the Last Eight.
The five-time World Champion has suffered back-to-back Quarter-Final defeats this month but has shown glimpses of his vintage best in the early rounds, notably averaging 106 in his First Round win in Melbourne.
Van Barneveld dug deep to edge out New Zealand number one Cody Harris 6-5 in his opener and is now eyeing a first win over ‘Superchin’ since the Perth Masters Semi-Finals two years ago.
Melbourne Masters runner-up Gurney is out to make it successive final appearances and will fancy his chances of coming through the top half of the draw.
The Northern Irishman defeated David Platt 6-2 and now looks to go through the gears and end Barney’s hopes of a fairy-tale televised title in his farewell campaign.
The action gets underway from 7am BST (6pm local time), with all matches to be contested over the best of 15 legs.
Television coverage in the UK is delayed, however you can watch every match LIVE via the link below.
New Zealand Darts Masters 2019 Match Schedule
All times BST (Local time eleven hours ahead)
Saturday August 24
Peter Wright v James Wade
Daryl Gurney v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
Rob Cross v Ben Robb
Wright/Wade v Gurney/Van Barneveld
Van Gerwen/G Anderson v Cross/Robb