Peter Wright makes his entrance in Vegas (credit:Tom Donoghue/PDC)
The 2019 World Series of Darts commences in Las Vegas on Thursday as the eight PDC stars each face a North American qualifier in the opening round of the US Masters.
The first of five World Series events this season sees 16 players competing for the £20,000 top prize at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
The eight PDC invites are accompanied in the draw by the four automatic North American qualifiers, as well as the top four players from the North American qualifying Order of Merit.
Gary Anderson begins the defence of his title with a clash against South Dakota debutant Elliot Milk – who defeated three-time World Champion John Part en route to winning Qualifier Four on Wednesday.
World Cup winner Anderson, who is making only his third televised appearance of the year, is on a collision course for a potential Second Round show-down with rival Gerwyn Price for what would be their first meeting since last November’s explosive Grand Slam final.
Price, however, must firstly overcome former UK Open finalist Gary Mawson – who claimed the eighth and final qualifying spot via the Order of Merit.
UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall marks his World Series debut with a tie against Canada’s Shawn Brenneman – who featured in the 2017 US Masters and 2008 Las Vegas Desert Classic at this very venue.
World number two Rob Cross is tasked with a tricky opener against TV debutant Leonard Gates, a multiple winner on the CDC circuit as well as a star of the soft-tip scene.
Multiple World Series event winner Peter Wright has been handed arguably the toughest possible draw on paper as he meets reigning North American champion Jeff Smith.
World number one Michael van Gerwen, who claimed the inaugural title here in 2017, is looking to return to the winner’s circle this week and starts out against American left-hander Darin Young – a veteran of the sport who has competed in nine PDC World Championships.
World finalist Michael Smith could face MVG in Round Two but starts out against Canada’s Jim Long – who defeated Mickey Mansell on his World Championship debut in December before being edged out in a tense tie break by Benito van de Pas.
Players Championship Finals winner Daryl Gurney, runner-up here two years ago, aims to avert a potential banana skin at the hands of Guam-born Daniel Baggish.
The action gets underway from 8pm BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.
US Darts Masters 2019 Match Schedule
All times BST (Local time eight hours behind)
Thursday July 4
8.00pm Gerwyn Price v Gary Mawson
8.30pm Nathan Aspinall v Shawn Brenneman
9.00pm Daryl Gurney v Daniel Baggish
9.30pm Michael Smith v Jim Long
10.00pm Rob Cross v Leonard Gates
10.30pm Gary Anderson v Elliot Milk
11.00pm Peter Wright v Jeff Smith
11.30pm Michael van Gerwen v Darin Young