The world’s top eight players begin the new campaign at the 2021 Ladbrokes Masters in Milton Keynes on Saturday. Day…
The world’s top eight players begin the new campaign at the 2021 Ladbrokes Masters in Milton Keynes on Saturday.
Day One of the season-opening invitational at the Marshall Arena saw the players ranked 9-24 battling it out for the right to face a seed in Round Two.
Part One of an unmissable double session on Saturday features a fascinating shoot-out between Premier League contenders Dave Chisnall and Daryl Gurney.
One Premier League place remains up for grabs following this tournament, and both players will be desperate to maintain their hopes of selection with a strong run.
This will be their third consecutive meeting in the Ladbrokes Masters, with Chisnall having won them both 10-8 at the Last 16 stage.
Gurney, who enjoyed a resurgent run to the Quarter-Finals of the recent World Championship, battled his way to a last-leg win over debutant Jeffrey de Zwaan on Friday.
Chisnall, meanwhile, aims to pick up from where he left off at Ally Pally, reaching the Semi-Finals after whitewashing Michael van Gerwen with the performance of the tournament along the way.
Premier League finalist Nathan Aspinall aims to kick-start his season with a strong performance when he comes up against Mensur Suljovic.
Aspinall reached the Semi-Finals on his Ladbrokes Masters debut 12 months ago but made it to just one televised ranking Quarter-Final in an otherwise frustrating year for the Stockport star.
Suljovic punished 23 missed darts at doubles to defeat a wasteful Ian White 6-3 in his opener and is bidding to reach his fourth Ladbrokes Masters Quarter-Final in five appearances.
Rob Cross begins what could prove to be a pivotal year in his career with a clash against a rejuvenated Mervyn King.
Former World Champion Cross is defending both the World Matchplay and European Championship titles from 2019 against his world ranking as he bids to maintain his position among the sport’s elite.
The world number is out to avert a third straight First Round exit in this competition but runs into a player enjoying a blistering burst of form, having picked up from where he left off last year.
Players Championship Finals runner-up King thrashed Glen Durrant 6-1 with a 102 average and six from seven on the doubles on Friday and will be confident of subjecting Cross to another early exit.
James Wade, Masters Champion in 2014, kicks off his latest campaign with a clash against debutant Chris Dobey.
Wade is another name in the mix for the final Premier League spot, having finished runner-up in both the European Championship and Grand Slam at the back end of last year.
The world number seven, who hit a magnificent nine-darter at Ally Pally last month, has appeared in all eight previous stagings of The Masters, reaching the final on two occasions.
Dobey picked up a confidence-boosting 6-2 win over Dimitri van den Bergh with a 97 average on opening night and will aim to catch ‘The Machine’ cold in a quest to reach his first televised Quarter-Final since November 2019.
All eyes will be on newly-crowned World Champion Gerwyn Price in the evening session as he marks his return to action with a tasty tie against Joe Cullen.
Price hit the sport’s ultimate height 27 days ago when he triumphed at Ally Pally, becoming world number one for the first time in the process.
The Welshman, who picked up a further three televised titles during the season, now has a new target on his back and will be keen to pick up from where he left off at the palace to assert his dominance.
He faces an immediate test of character against an in-form Cullen – who is hungry to atone for his World Championship heartbreak in a sudden death leg against Michael van Gerwen.
The two-time European Tour event winner began by averaging 102 in a superb 6-4 success over Stephen Bunting and afterwards admitted he still sees Van Gerwen as “the number one”.
Van Gerwen will look to hit the ground running in his quest to return to the summit of the sport after being dislodged from the top of the Order of Merit for the first time in seven years.
The three-time World Champion was left licking his wounds after being whitewashed by a rampant ‘Chizzy’ in the Quarter-Finals at Ally Pally, ending his toughest season in almost a decade.
The Dutchman’s season began with defeat to Jonny Clayton in The Masters, and he will be determined to avoid a repeat outcome here as he faces the tricky Welshman once again.
World Cup winner Clayton averaged just shy of 103 in a terrific 6-5 win over Jose De Sousa on Friday, taking out 130 in the deciding leg to deny the Grand Slam champion.
Another mouth-watering show-down features a repeat of the World Championship final of a decade ago as Gary Anderson takes on Adrian Lewis.
The box office duo face off in front of the TV cameras for the first time in four years as Anderson aims to bounce back from his world final defeat less than four weeks ago.
Anderson, who was also runner-up in last year’s World Matchplay, defied the odds throughout the season despite numerous injury problems and has dismissed rumours of retirement by signing a new long-term contract with Unicorn.
Lewis, meanwhile, responded superbly to his disappointing Last 64 exit to Danny Baggish in the World Championship by edging out Michael Smith 6-5 in a thrilling tussle on Friday.
The 2013 Masters runner-up defied checkouts of 170, 132, 170 and 150 from his opponent to prevail with a 97 average and remind the darting public exactly how dangerous he can be when in full flow.
World number three Peter Wright begins the defence of his Ladbrokes Masters title with a tasty tie against Simon Whitlock.
Wright claimed this trophy in dramatic circumstances last year, surviving three match darts from Michael Smith in the final before eventually securing an 11-10 victory.
Snakebite surrendered his world title with defeat to Gabriel Clemens in the Last 32 at Ally Pally and will be desperate to bounce back and send out a clear message to his rivals.
Whitlock is staking his own claim for a late charge towards the Premier League and gained some degree of revenge on Krzysztof Ratajski for his World Championship whitewash by prevailing 6-2 in their encounter last night.
The Australian ace, who reached two major Semi-Finals last season, is now looking to reach only his second Masters Quarter-Final in eight appearances.
The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.
Ladbrokes Masters 2021 Schedule
Saturday January 30
Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)
Rob Cross v Mervyn King
James Wade v Chris Dobey
Nathan Aspinall v Mensur Suljovic
Dave Chisnall v Daryl Gurney
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
Peter Wright v Simon Whitlock
Gerwyn Price v Joe Cullen
Michael van Gerwen v Jonny Clayton