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Players Championship Finals 2021 Day One preview and order of play | Friday madness in Minehead

Jamie Shaw in Players Championship Finals 26 Nov 2021
Gary Anderson reacts (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The 2021 Players Championship Finals commences in Minehead on Friday with a blockbuster double session of First Round ties.

The £500,000 major features 64 players battling it out in a culmination of the 30 Players Championship events held during the course of the season.

Having been held behind closed doors at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry last year, the tournament returns to the Butlins Minehead Resort over the next three days.

Play on Day One will be held across two stages simultaneously, with a number of stand-out ties as a result of the unique ProTour seedings.

The afternoon session features a show-down between two former finalists in this event as Adrian Lewis takes on Kim Huybrechts.

Huybrechts, the 2012 runner-up, recently returned to the world’s top 32, while 2014 and 2015 runner-up Lewis must reach at least the Quarter-Final stage this weekend if he is to do the same and have any chance of being seeded for the World Championship.

Nathan Aspinall, who claimed UK Open glory in Minehead two years ago, starts out against Canadian World Cup star Jeff Smith.

Michael Smith looks to kick on from his resurgent run to the Semi-Finals of the Grand Slam last weekend when he faces emerging Scottish star William Borland.

World Matchplay semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski takes on Dutch left-hander Ron Meulenkamp, while reigning UK Open champion and recent Grand Slam semi-finalist James Wade meets ‘Rapid’ Ricky Evans.

Fifth seed Ryan Searle, twice a ProTour event winner, starts out against former European Champion Simon Whitlock, while Dimitri van den Bergh makes his return to action after missing the Grand Slam with Covid as he plays Latvian ace Madars Razma.

Joe Cullen, twice a Players Championship event winner this year, opens up against ‘X Factor’ Andy Boulton, while Stage Two features a clash between German number one Gabriel Clemens and former Lakeside Champion Steve Beaton.

World Grand Prix semi-finalist Danny Noppert faces World Cup of Darts runner-up Rowby-John Rodriguez, while last year’s beaten finalist Mervyn King meets Lithuanian star Darius Labanauskas.

The evening session commences with a clash between 2011 runner-up Gary Anderson and World Championship semi-finalist Stephen Bunting.

Raymond van Barneveld, four times a quarter-finalist in this event, marks his return to Minehead with an all-Dutch affair against giant-killer Maik Kuivenhoven.

Defending champion Michael van Gerwen begins his quest for a magnificent seventh Players Championship Finals title against fellow Dutchman Kevin Doets.

Van Gerwen, winner of the season’s penultimate ProTour event, last tasted success in a ranked TV major in this very event 12 months ago, but has won the Nordic Masters this term.

Two-time European Champion Rob Cross starts out against quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena, while Premier League and World Grand Prix winner Jonny Clayton faces St Helens left-hander Alan Tabern.

Jose de Sousa, the number one seed, faces Devon Petersen – who held on secure to the 64th and final qualification spot.

World number one Gerwyn Price starts his bid for back-to-back major titles following last week’s Grand Slam success when he takes on Jason Lowe – who defeated Michael Smith in the World Championship last year.

Grand Slam runner-up Peter Wright opens up against talented Irish youngster Keane Barry, as former World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode hosts Ipswich left-hander Ryan Meikle on Stage Two.

Stage Two also sees Dutch stars Vincent van der Voort and Jelle Klaasen collide, with ‘The Cobra’ replacing Jamie Hughes – who withdrew due to a positive Covid test.

Dave Chisnall, the 2016 runner-up, faces fellow heavy scorer Ritchie Edhouse, while ProTour event winner Callan Rydz takes on World Cup finalist Mensur Suljovic.

Two former Premier League ‘Contenders’ go head-to-head as Chris Dobey plays William O’Connor, while 2019 champion Daryl Gurney aims to return to winning ways when he faces Scottish debutant Alan Soutar.

The action gets under way from 12.45pm 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 2021 Day One Schedule

Friday November 26

First Round

Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)

Main Stage
Ryan Searle v Simon Whitlock
Krzysztof Ratajski v Ron Meulenkamp
Michael Smith v William Borland
Joe Cullen v Andy Boulton
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Madars Razma
James Wade v Ricky Evans
Nathan Aspinall v Jeff Smith
Adrian Lewis v Kim Huybrechts

Stage Two
Scott Mitchell v Martijn Kleermaker
Ryan Joyce v Luke Woodhouse
Martin Schindler v Ian White
Mervyn King v Darius Labanauskas
Brendan Dolan v Chas Barstow
Ross Smith v Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Danny Noppert v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Gabriel Clemens v Steve Beaton

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)

Main Stage
Stephen Bunting v Gary Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld v Maik Kuivenhoven
Rob Cross v Jermaine Wattimena
Jose de Sousa v Devon Petersen
Gerwyn Price v Jason Lowe
Michael van Gerwen v Kevin Doets
Peter Wright v Keane Barry
Jonny Clayton v Alan Tabern

Stage Two
Vincent van der Voort v Jelle Klaasen
Daryl Gurney v Alan Soutar
Damon Heta v Steve Lennon
Callan Rydz v Mensur Suljovic
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ryan Meikle
Luke Humphries v Jason Heaver
Chris Dobey v William O’Connor
Dave Chisnall v Ritchie Edhouse

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