The 2020 World Series Finals commence in Salzburg on Friday as the 16 invites and qualifiers face off for the…
The 2020 World Series Finals commence in Salzburg on Friday as the 16 invites and qualifiers face off for the right to take on a seed in Round Two.
The 24-player invitational is the first PDC event to be staged in front of a live crowd since March as the Salzburgarena in Austria plays host over the next three days.
The world’s top eight players are seeded through to the Second Round, while Friday’s opening round features the 12 invited players alongside four qualifiers.
History-maker Fallon Sherrock is among the wildcard picks as she prepares to make her World Series debut against Canada’s Jeff Smith.
Sherrock enjoyed a ground-breaking run to the Last 32 of the World Championship at Alexandra Palace last December, making global headlines as the first female player to win in the sport’s show-piece event.
She has since gone on to compete in the Premier League and UK Open and will feature in next year’s World Series events following this year’s cancellations.
The 26-year-old faces a tough test against former Lakeside finalist Smith, who came through Qualifying School to gain a Tour Card and reached the final of the first Players Championship event of the year.
The 2018 North American champion was also a semi-finalist in the Summer Series and will be keen to set up a Second Round show-down with 2018 World Series Finals winner James Wade.
Arguably the stand-out tie of the opening round features a repeat of their World Matchplay Semi-Final as Glen Durrant bids for revenge over Dimitri van den Bergh.
Durrant was beaten 17-15 by the young Belgian in an epic contest, before Van den Bergh famously went on to lift the title the following day and secure his first major.
Durrant has since secured top spot in the Premier League and a place in October’s play-offs, while Van den Bergh will be making his first televised appearance since that fairy-tale Matchplay triumph.
Now ranked world number 11, Van den Bergh has been hampered by a recent knee injury and was seen playing whilst wearing a knee brace during the Autumn Series earlier this week.
Another closely-matched tie sees home hero Mensur Suljovic take on Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski.
Both players warmed up for this event by reaching the final in the Autumn Series and are now separated by just one place in the world rankings.
World number 14 Ratajski will have to contend with a partisan, 1,500-strong crowd as they look to roar on their country’s top tungsten talisman – who won this fixture 10-9 at the Quarter-Final stage of this event last year.
Meanwhile, in-form Damon Heta will have his sights set on an upset when he comes up against world number 12 Ian White.
Heta, the reigning Brisbane Masters champion, picked up his first PDC ranking title last week and finished fourth on the Autumn Series Order of Merit to secure a Grand Slam spot.
The Australian ace has gone from strength to strength since clinching his Tour Card and will look to apply the pressure on White – who also has a Players Championship title to his name this year.
White was a quarter-finalist in this event last time around, losing out to eventual runner-up Danny Noppert in a tense last-leg decider.
Dave Chisnall, who celebrated his 40th birthday earlier this week, starts out against top New Zealander Cody Harris.
Chisnall is a two-time World Series Finals semi-finalist and will look to utilise his vast experience against the two-time Challenge Tour event winner.
Stablemates Joe Cullen and Vincent van der Voort collide in what promises to be a quick-fire epic as they meet in a televised event for the first time.
Cullen reached the final of an Autumn Series event earlier in the week, producing multiple ton-plus averages along the way, and will feel he is in fine fettle heading to Salzburg.
Van der Voort, meanwhile, enjoyed a resurgent run to the Quarter-Finals of July’s World Matchplay and joined Cullen in coming through the Tour Card holder qualifier to book a place in this event.
The opening match of the night sees Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas take on former ProTour event winner Harry Ward.
Ward also came through last week’s qualifier but made a shock announcement during the Autumn Series that he is to resign his Tour Card at the end of the season regardless of his finishing position.
The 23-year-old revealed he no longer has the desire to travel and compete on the circuit but has vowed to give it his all for the remaining three months.
Labanauskas has failed to make the impact he would have hoped for since reaching the Quarter-Finals of last year’s World Championship, but remains a significant threat to the field.
The final match of the evening sees former European Champion Simon Whitlock take on former World Champion Steve Beaton.
Whitlock was a quarter-finalist at the World Matchplay and is looking to regain a place in the world’s top 16 at the business end of the season.
The 2010 world finalist has won 13 of his 17 previous meetings with ‘The Bronzed Adonis’, including each of their last three dating back to 2014.
Beaton underlined his incredible longevity once again by coming through the qualifying event to make his third appearance in this competition.
The 56-year-old has reached two ProTour Quarter-Finals this season and continues to solidify his spot among the world’s top 32.
The action gets underway from 7pm BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.
World Series Finals 2020 Match Schedule
Friday September 18
7.00pm Harry Ward v Darius Labanauskas
7.30pm Ian White v Damon Heta
8.00pm Cody Harris v Dave Chisnall
8.30pm Vincent van der Voort v Joe Cullen
9.00pm Jeff Smith v Fallon Sherrock
9.30pm Krzysztof Ratajski v Mensur Suljovic
10.00pm Glen Durrant v Dimitri Van den Bergh
10.30pm Simon Whitlock v Steve Beaton