The top eight seeds enter the fold at the 2022 Ladbrokes Masters on Saturday as the Second Round action takes…
The top eight seeds enter the fold at the 2022 Ladbrokes Masters on Saturday as the Second Round action takes centre stage in Milton Keynes.
Night One of the season-opening invitational saw the unseeded hopefuls battle it out at the Marshall Arena, with three players registering ton-plus averages.
The world’s top eight ranked players will now look to hit the ground running as the stakes and format increase on Day Two, with two mouth-watering sessions on the cards.
The afternoon session features a stand-out tie between two-time World Champion Gary Anderson and world number 11 Joe Cullen.
The duo famously contested an epic World Matchplay Quarter-Final in 2018, in which Anderson came out on top in Blackpool 19-17 on his way to taking the title.
Anderson, who was recently married during the month-long break, ended an otherwise below-par season with a resurgent run to the Semi-Finals of the World Championship and was runner-up in this event five years ago.
Cullen, meanwhile, kicked off his campaign with an impressive 6-2 win over Daryl Gurney, averaging 99 in the process, and is now bidding to reach his second Masters Quarter-Final in four appearances.
Michael Smith aims to bounce back from his World Championship final heartbreak this weekend, and the world number five opens up against Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski.
Smith squandered a five sets to four lead in defeat to Peter Wright at Alexandra Palace at the start of the month and comes into the new season still in pursuit of that elusive maiden major.
Smith was also runner-up to Wright in this event two years ago, missing three match darts in an agonising 11-10 defeat.
Ratajski rode his luck in reaching the Last 16, surviving seven missed match darts from Gabriel Clemens on opening night, and will be eyeing a marked improvement on his match average of 88 if he is to test Bully Boy.
The opening match of the afternoon sees Premier League runner-up Jose de Sousa take on two-time European Champion Rob Cross.
Both players are in the conversation for a Premier League pick next week and will be determined to mount a strong run here to improve their chances.
Cross began by defeating Brendan Dolan 6-2 despite an average of just 88, while De Sousa is making only his second Masters appearance, having lost out in Round One 12 months ago.
James Wade, Masters champion back in 2014, starts out against 2016 finalist Dave Chisnall.
Wade, a semi-finalist at the recent World Championship and reigning UK Open champion, has reached the Last Eight in seven of his nine previous appearances in this event.
Chisnall, who whitewashed Stephen Bunting in Round One, also boasts an impressive Masters record and has his sights set on a fourth consecutive Quarter-Final spot.
The evening session sees Jonny Clayton commence the defence of his title with a clash against World Matchplay finalist Dimitri van den Bergh.
Clayton claimed the title on his debut here 12 months ago, a victory which clinched him a Premier League spot and proved to be the catalyst for a further three televised titles during the year.
The world number eight was denied by Michael Smith in a seventh set epic in the Last 16 of the World Championship and will be keen to bounce back at the first available opportunity.
Van den Bergh produced the stand-out performance of the First Round, averaging 105.3 in a 6-1 rout of Ian White and is out to bolster his hopes of a Premier League return by dethroning the reigning Masters champion.
Michael van Gerwen is a man out to make up for lost ground after being withdrawn from the recent World Championship following a positive Covid test prior to his Third Round contest.
The world number three has won this event on five occasions but went the entire calendar year in 2021 without picking up a major ranked title for the first time in a decade.
MVG starts his season with a show-down against Luke Humphries – who thrashed the Dutchman 11-5 en route to last year’s UK Open final.
Humphries dispatched Devon Petersen 6-1 on Friday to mark a winning debut at The Masters and is also eyeing a title tilt this weekend in order to stake a late claim for a Premier League spot.
World number one Gerwyn Price launches his quest for a first Masters crown with a clash against debutant Ryan Searle.
Price saw his world title defence ended at the Quarter-Final stage by Smith earlier this month, but an otherwise superb season saw him pick up a third Grand Slam title and reach the final of the World Grand Prix.
Semi-finalist here last year, Price faces a formidable opener against last November’s Players Championship Finals runner-up – who began his season with a 6-1 thrashing of two-time finalist Mervyn King.
Peter Wright begins his second reign as PDC World Champion with a tasty tie against a rejuvenated Simon Whitlock.
Wright capped off a memorable season which also saw him win the World Matchplay by regaining the Sid Waddell Trophy and defending his title-winning prize money from two years ago to close the gap on Price at the top of the Order of Merit.
Wright is now looking to replicate what he achieved in 2020 when he backed up the world title by winning The Masters just four weeks later.
Whitlock has once again taken full advantage of a late call-up to an event following Danny Noppert’s withdrawal as he overcame Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2 with a 100 average.
Whitlock went on to reach the Semi-Finals of the 2020 World Grand Prix the last time he was handed a late call-up and will be quietly confident of mounting another charge if he can back up that blistering First Round display.
The action gets under way from 12.45pm GMT, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.
Ladbrokes Masters 2022 Day Two Schedule
Saturday January 29
Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)
Jose de Sousa v Rob Cross
Gary Anderson v Joe Cullen
Michael Smith v Krzysztof Ratajski
James Wade v Dave Chisnall
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Jonny Clayton v Dimitri van den Bergh
Gerwyn Price v Ryan Searle
Peter Wright v Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen v Luke Humphries