The 2021 Players Championship Finals field will be whittled down from 32 players to just eight following Saturday’s double session…
The 2021 Players Championship Finals field will be whittled down from 32 players to just eight following Saturday’s double session in Minehead.
The opening day of the season’s penultimate major saw 32 matches held across two stages at the Butlins Minehead Resort as a clutch of big names suffered early exits.
The world’s top 12 ranked players, however, remain in the running as the tournament enters its business end on Day Two.
The afternoon session plays host to the Second Round ties across two stages, before the winners return for the Last 16 in the evening.
The stand-out tie of the Last 32 features the renewal of the Dutch rivalry between multiple World Champions Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld.
The first competitive meeting between the pair since 2019 sees defending champion MVG looking to remain on course for seventh Players Championship Finals crown in an event he has dominated in recent years.
Van Gerwen, whose last major ranking title came at this event in Coventry 12 months ago, overcame young debutant Kevin Doets in Round One, and now faces a resurgent RVB – playing without pressure as he looks to head to Ally Pally on a high.
Van Barneveld, four times a quarter-finalist in this event, produced one of the most notable performances of the opening round as he averaged 104 in a 6-1 rout of Maik Kuivenhoven, and is now eyeing his biggest win since rejoining the circuit at the start of the year.
The Main Stage also features an unmissable show-down between former World Champions Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis.
Having lost in the final of the Grand Slam last week, Wright came into this event licking his wounds, but began brightly with a 99 average in defeating emerging star Keane Barry on Friday night.
Lewis, bidding to return to the world’s top 32 in order to be seeded in Monday’s World Championship draw, started superbly with a 97 average in a 6-3 win over Kim Huybrechts in his first televised tournament since the UK Open back in March.
Two Premier League stars collide as reigning European Champion Rob Cross faces the man who defeated him to win his first major title at the UK Open here in 2019 – Nathan Aspinall.
World number one Gerwyn Price is looking to follow up his third Grand Slam title by securing this piece of silverware for the first time, and he takes on Germany’s Martin Schindler in a repeat of their Group Stage meeting in Wolverhampton last week.
Two players who pulled off dramatic deciding leg victories on Day One go head-to-head as Gary Anderson faces Ryan Meikle.
Anderson came from 4-0 down to stun Stephen Bunting, while Ipswich left-hander Meikle took out 116 in the decider to dispatch Dirk van Duijvenbode on Stage Two with a sensational 108.7 average.
UK Open champion James Wade kicks off the afternoon’s Main Stage action with a tie against World Matchplay quarter-finalist and two-time ProTour event winner – Callan Rydz.
Jonny Clayton, runner-up here in 2017, looks to start afresh after missing 18 darts at doubles in a scrappy win over Alan Tabern when he comes up against former Lakeside Champion Scott Mitchell.
World Matchplay runner-up Dimitri van den Bergh, who missed the recent Grand Slam due to a positive Covid test, is out to make up for lost time and faces a tricky Second Round test against World Grand Prix semi-finalist Danny Noppert.
Stage Two sees top seed Jose de Sousa take on Lithuanian ace Darius Labanauskas – who knocked out last year’s beaten finalist Mervyn King in Round One.
Michael Smith, semi-finalist at the Grand Slam a week ago, faces a crunch clash with 2018 Players Championship Finals winner Daryl Gurney – who has dropped to 23rd in the Order of Merit.
World number 12 Krzysztof Ratajski takes on William O’Connor – who defied a staggering ten 180s from Chris Dobey to prevail in a deciding leg on Friday.
UK Open finalist Luke Humphries takes on Players Championship event winner Ross Smith, while Andy Boulton – conqueror of Joe Cullen in Round One – meets former UK Open runner-up Vincent van der Voort.
Fifth seed Ryan Searle, who has tasted success on the ProTour this season, faces in-form Ryan Joyce – who reached the knock-out stages of the recent Grand Slam.
Australian number two Damon Heta takes on German number one Gabriel Clemens, while history-maker Brendan Dolan meets Ritchie Edhouse – who knocked out Dave Chisnall in Round One.
The action gets under way from 12.45pm GMT, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs and Last 16 ties best of 19.
Players Championship Finals 2021 Day Two Schedule
Saturday November 27
Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)
Callan Rydz v James Wade
Rob Cross v Nathan Aspinall
Ryan Meikle v Gary Anderson
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Gerwyn Price v Martin Schindler
Jonny Clayton v Scott Mitchell
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Danny Noppert
Andy Boulton v Vincent van der Voort
Ryan Searle v Ryan Joyce
Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney
Brendan Dolan v Ritchie Edhouse
Damon Heta v Gabriel Clemens
Ross Smith v Luke Humphries
William O’Connor v Krzysztof Ratajski
Jose de Sousa v Darius Labanauskas
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
4x Matches (TBC)
4x Matches (TBC)