King aims to defeat MVG in Minehead for the second time this season (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
The penultimate major of the season draws to a close at Butlins Minehead on Sunday as the final eight battle it out for the prestigious title.
The £500,000 tournament started out with 64 players across two stages on Friday, now just eight remain to lock horns on the Main Stage, with the Quarter-Finals taking place in the afternoon, followed by the Semi-Finals and final later in the evening.
For the remaining few, this signals perfect preparation for next month’s World Championship, but their immediate thoughts will be on challenging for the £100,000 top prize here.
Gerwyn Price is aiming to continue his remarkable run of form by remaining on course for a second successive major title by overcoming a rejuvenated Stephen Bunting.
Price retained his Boylesports
Grand Slam title in emphatic fashion last weekend and has shown no sign of a hangover from that success this weekend, progressing beyond the Last 16 of this event for the first time.
The world number three now has a shot at revenge against Bunting, who pulled off a breath-taking 13-12 triumph in a sudden death leg at the World Matchplay in July and has kicked on since to return to his best form.
Bunting himself believes he is performing consistently better now than he did when winning Lakeside and joining the PDC in 2014, and his stats would suggest so, having averaged 104.6 and 107 in victories over Jose De Sousa and Ryan Meikle for the loss of just five legs on Saturday.
Four-time champion Michael van Gerwen looks to remain on track to reach a fifth consecutive Players Championship Final by ending the rampant run of Mervyn King.
Van Gerwen, who won this title consecutively between 2015 and 2017 before finishing runner-up to Daryl Gurney 12 months ago, is bidding to bounce back from last week’s Grand Slam Semi-Final defeat in typical fashion with more silverware to take into the World Championship.
The world number one raised the roof with a nine-dart finish in an eventual 6-5 win over Adrian Lewis on Saturday afternoon before averaging 106 in a high quality 10-6 victory over James Wade in the evening.
Van Gerwen and King met on this very stage in March, with King pulling off a shock 10-6 scalp in the UK Open, before the Dutchman gained his revenge in the Quarter-Finals of the World Grand Prix.
King is appearing in his third major Quarter-Final of the season after superb wins over Justin Pipe, Dave Chisnall and Rob Cross – notably averaging 105 despite playing through the pain barrier in the latter match.
Departing legend Raymond van Barneveld looks to continue his resurgent run in his penultimate major appearance before retirement when he faces Bedlington ace Chris Dobey.
Van Barneveld, seemingly playing without pressure, finds himself in a first major ranked Quarter-Final since the World Championship in December 2017, and has rolled back the years with some fine displays along the way.
The five-time World Champion has dropped just eight legs in Main Stage triumphs over Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen and Glen Durrant – all of whom have claimed PDC ranking titles this year.
Dobey, meanwhile, has reached the Last Eight of this event for the second year running and is aiming to follow up his run to the Semi-Finals of last month’s World Grand Prix.
The Premier League ‘Contender’ has dropped just six legs in commanding victories over Cristo Reyes, James Wilson and John Henderson and is now hoping to end Barney’s quest for a fairy-tale triumph in his last appearance in Minehead.
William O’Connor marks his first appearance in a major singles Quarter-Final with a tie against Ian White – a player hoping to finally end his Quarter-Final jinx.
O’Connor, a runner-up in this year’s World Cup of Darts, has flown under the radar on Stage Two, defeating Steve West, Krzysztof Ratajski and Gabriel Clemens in a superb run which has seen him now become Ireland’s top-ranked player.
White has enjoyed vast success on both the European Tour and ProTour in recent years, but has incredibly lost in nine consecutive major televised Quarter-Finals.
The Stoke star, who thrashed Michael Smith 10-4 with a 107 average in the Last 16, may now feel he may never get a better opportunity to break the mould and reach a major Semi-Final than this.
The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with Quarter-Final matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs and Semi-Finals and Final best of 21.
The Players Championship Final will be preceded by the final of the PDC World Youth Championship between 11-time Development Tour winner Luke Humphries and 17-year-old Czech star Adam Gawlas as they collide over the best of 11 legs for the £10,000 top prize.
Players Championship Finals 2019 Match Schedule
Sunday November 24
Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)
Gerwyn Price v Stephen Bunting
Raymond van Barneveld v Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen v Mervyn King
Ian White v William O’Connor
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Price/Bunting v Van Barneveld/Dobey
Van Gerwen/King v White/O’Connor
World Youth Championship Final
Luke Humphries v Adam Gawlas