The fifth staging of the World Series Finals gets underway in Amsterdam on Friday as the 16 qualifiers face off…
Price and Smith face off for the second time in five days (credit:Kais Bodensieck/PDC Europe)
The fifth staging of the World Series Finals gets underway in Amsterdam on Friday as the 16 qualifiers face off for the right to take on one of the eight seeded stars in Round Two.
The three-day non-ranking tournament features 24 players competing for £300,000 in prize money, with Amsterdam’s AFAS Live hosting the event for the first time.
The top eight players from the World Series Order of Merit are seeded through to the Second Round and will each await either a ProTour Order of Merit qualifier, a Tour Card qualifier or an invited wildcard on Saturday.
The stand-out tie of the opening round sees Premier League stars Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price go head-to-head in a re-run of last Sunday’s European Championship Semi-Final.
Price came out on top 11-7 before going on to lose to Rob Cross in the final, following which he posted on Instagram that the constant jeering from the crowd had left him ‘questioning retirement.’
Price was a semi-finalist in this event last year, where he was beaten by none other than Smith – who went on to miss five match darts in the final against James Wade.
Both players have demons to banish this weekend, and the prize for the winner is a show-down with three-time champion Michael van Gerwen in the Last 16.
Elsewhere, defending champion Wade awaits the winner of the tie between world number 13 Jonny Clayton and 2006 World Championship semi-finalist Wayne Jones.
While Clayton has performed strong on the floor this season, missed doubles have been a recurring theme in front of the cameras and the Welshman will be determined to stamp those out at the business end of the campaign.
Jones is making his debut in this competition having also come through the Tour Card holder’s qualifier, though he has not won a match in a televised event since the 2017 UK Open.
Another tasty tie sees reigning UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall take on Gibraltar Trophy winner Krzysztof Ratajski for the right to face Daryl Gurney in Round Two.
Aspinall made his one and only World Series appearance this year in the US Masters in Las Vegas – where he went all the way and claimed the title to mark a dream debut.
Ratajski has also enjoyed the best year of his career to date, picking up three ranking titles to climb to 20th on the Order of Merit, though he is yet to reach a PDC televised Quarter-Final in ten attempts.
Two established top 16 stars lock horns for the first time in more than 18 months as World Grand Prix finalist Dave Chisnall faces former European Champion Simon Whitlock.
A rejuvenated Chisnall is enjoying a superb spell of form with his new equipment, having reached three finals since the beginning of September, as well as the Quarter-Finals of last week’s European Championship.
Whitlock, meanwhile, has slipped to 14th in the Order of Merit and failed to secure a seeded spot in this event despite featuring in three of the five World Series events, with his best run coming in the Brisbane Masters – where he reached the Last Four.
Two Dutch talents collide on home soil for the right to face Gary Anderson in the Last 16 as Jeffrey de Zwaan plays Danny Noppert.
De Zwaan reached his first major Quarter-Final since last summer’s World Matchplay in Gottingen last weekend and also has a Players Championship title to his name this term.
Noppert, meanwhile, has dropped out of the world’s top 32 despite reaching four ProTour Semi-Finals this season, though he has managed just one win in his last four televised tournaments.
Dutch number two Jermaine Wattimena has enjoyed the best season of his career to date and will look to confirm a meeting with departing legend Raymond van Barneveld by overcoming German number two Gabriel Clemens.
Wattimena has climbed to within touching distance of a place in the world’s top 16, while Clemens’ highlight so far saw him reach the final of the German Masters World Series event in Cologne back in July.
Ian White, who is yet to feature in a World Series event despite multiple European Tour and ProTour triumphs, aims to make a statement by denying in-form Tour Card qualifier Ricky Evans – who reached his first major Quarter-Final last weekend.
Australia’s Kyle Anderson, who featured in all three of August’s World Series events Down Under faces a tough test against former World Matchplay finalist Mensur Suljovic but will be buoyed by his dominant record of seven wins from their nine previous meetings.
The action gets underway from 6.45pm GMT, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.
World Series of Darts Finals 2019 Match Schedule
All times GMT (Local time one hour ahead)
Friday November 1
7.00pm Wayne Jones v Jonny Clayton
7.30pm Ricky Evans v Ian White
8.00pm Kyle Anderson v Mensur Suljovic
8.30pm Krzysztof Ratajski v Nathan Aspinall
9.00pm Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
9.30pm Dave Chisnall v Simon Whitlock
10.00pm Danny Noppert v Jeffrey de Zwaan
10.30pm Jermaine Wattimena v Gabriel Clemens