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Zonneveld shocks Wade as Ratajski, Gurney and Durrant also crash out in Players Championship Finals opener

Players Championship Finals 2020 Day One preview and order of play: Round One commences in Coventry

Jamie Shaw in Players Championship Finals 27 Nov 2020
Adrian Lewis returns to action (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The 2020 Players Championship Finals gets underway in Coventry on Friday as 64 players battle it out across two stages in Round One.

The £500,000 major is the culmination of the 23 Players Championship events held during the course of the season, with seedings based on finishing positions on the Players Championship Order of Merit.

This year’s Players Championship Finals will be held behind closed doors at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry from November 27-29.

Play in the early rounds will be held across two stages, with main stage matches televised and matches from Stage Two streamed exclusively live online.

Friday’s afternoon session plays host to seven matches on the main stage, including a stand-out clash between two-time finalist Adrian Lewis and recent Grand Slam semi-finalist Simon Whitlock.

Lewis, back-to-back runner-up in Minehead in 2014 and 2015, is appearing in his first televised ranking major since the World Matchplay back in July.

Lewis was withdrawn from the World Grand Prix due to a positive Covid test and failed to qualify for both the European Championship and Grand Slam of Darts.

The Stoke, who enjoyed a fine end to the Winter Series which included a Semi-Final and Quarter-Final run, will be keen to make up for lost time but faces a tough opener against a revitalised Whitlock.

Whitlock defeated Michael van Gerwen 16-15 in an epic Quarter-Final at this venue last weekend before losing to eventual champion Jose De Sousa 16-12 in the Semi-Finals, extending his wait for a first major title since 2012.

Elsewhere, German Championship winner Devon Petersen takes on 2019 World Youth Champion Luke Humphries in what promises to be a high-scoring affair.

International Open champion and Winter Series event winner Joe Cullen faces Adam Hunt in a repeat of last week’s group stage meeting at the Grand Slam which Cullen won 5-4.

World Cup finalist Michael Smith aims to avenge back-to-back defeats to Boris Krcmar in the Autumn Series when he takes on the Croatian debutant for the first time in a TV major.

World Matchplay champion Dimitri van den Bergh, who was also a semi-finalist at the Grand Slam, starts out against Players Championship event winner Ryan Searle.

Three-time major champion Rob Cross aims to avert a potential early scalp at the hands of Jason Lowe – who prevailed when the pair met in the Summer Series.

World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode kicks off the day’s action against former World Cup finalist William O’Connor, while 2016 finalist Dave Chisnall takes on world number 24 Mervyn King.

Stage Two also sees former Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting take on Scottish debutant Ryan Murray, while Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski faces Czech Republic number one – Karel Sedlacek.

German number one Gabriel Clemens comes up against Dutch debutant Martijn Kleermaker, while World Cup winner Jonny Clayton faces former ProTour event winner Mickey Mansell.

Daryl Gurney, the 2018 champion, will look to avoid a potential banana skin against recent ProTour event semi-finalist Calln Rydz, while world number ten Ian White faces Scottish youngster William Borland.

Defending champion Michael van Gerwen begins his quest for a sixth Players Championship Finals title with a clash against Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas in the evening session.

Van Gerwen is targeting a first major title since the UK Open back in March as he looks to bounce back from squandering eight match darts in defeat to Whitlock last week.

Michael van Gerwen is the defending champion (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Man of the moment Jose De Sousa aims to pick up from where he left off in lifting the Grand Slam trophy on the same stage less than 72 hours ago when he faces Belgium’s Mike De Decker.

Premier League finalist Nathan Aspinall starts out against two-time BDO World Champion Scott Waites – making his debut in this competition.

All eyes will be on Gary Anderson, the 2014 champion, when he faces former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown.

Anderson was thrashed 10-2 by Van Gerwen in the Last 16 of the Grand Slam amid a knee injury which has left him in considerable discomfort on the stage.

James Wade, who was beaten in the Grand Slam final for the third time on Tuesday, aims to bounce back at the first available opportunity by overcoming Dutchman Niels Zonneveld.

World Champion Peter Wright, bidding to reach the final of this event for the first time, opens up against fellow Suffolk star Ryan Meikle.

World number three and reigning World Grand Prix champion Gerwyn Price kicks off against Scotland’s John Henderson in another stand-out tie on the main stage.

Stage Two plays host to a notable show-down between Premier League champion Glen Durrant and former World Championship semi-finalist Wayne Jones.

Former Lakeside Champion Steve Beaton is up against former Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert, while Premier League Contender Chris Dobey faces Latvia’s Madars Razma.

Former Czech Open winner Jamie Hughes faces his new stablemate Ricky Evans, as Dutch duo Vincent van der Voort and Derk Telnekes go head-to-head.

Jeffrey de Zwaan takes on Darren Webster – who comes in as a late replacement for Mensur Suljovic, while world number 23 Jermaine Wattimena faces Irish ace Steve Lennon.

Autumn Series event winner and recent Grand Slam quarter-finalist Damon Heta opens up against Dutchman Maik Kuivenhoven, while Ross Smith faces 2012 finalist Kim Huybrechts.

The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.

WATCH THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Players Championship Finals 2020 Schedule

Friday November 27

First Round

Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)

Main Stage
Dirk van Duijvenbode v William O’Connor
Michael Smith v Boris Krcmar
Rob Cross v Jason Lowe
Joe Cullen v Adam Hunt
Devon Petersen v Luke Humphries
Ryan Searle v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Adrian Lewis v Simon Whitlock

Stage Two
Brendan Dolan v Luke Woodhouse
Ryan Joyce v Andy Boulton
Stephen Bunting v Ryan Murray
Krzysztof Ratajski v Karel Sedlacek
Gabriel Clemens v Martijn Kleermaker
Ian White v William Borland
Jonny Clayton v Mickey Mansell
Daryl Gurney v Callan Rydz
Dave Chisnall v Mervyn King

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)

Main Stage
Nathan Aspinall v Scott Waites
Gary Anderson v Keegan Brown
James Wade v Niels Zonneveld
Peter Wright v Ryan Meikle
Michael van Gerwen v Darius Labanauskas
Gerwyn Price v John Henderson
Jose De Sousa v Mike De Decker

Stage Two
Vincent van der Voort v Derk Telnekes
Ricky Evans v Jamie Hughes
Ross Smith v Kim Huybrechts
Damon Heta v Maik Kuivenhoven
Jermaine Wattimena v Steve Lennon
Madars Razma v Chris Dobey
Glen Durrant v Wayne Jones
Darren Webster v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Danny Noppert v Steve Beaton