A whole new year of super darts action begins again this weekend as the Darts Masters get underway. Bringing together the world’s top 16 players, these select few will compete in the season-opening tournament being held from January 26 through 28 at the Arena MK in Milton Keynes with events due to be broadcast live on ITV4.
World number one Michael Van Gerwen has claimed the title for the past three years and with Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor now having left the oche, all eyes will inevitably turn to newly crowned World Champion Rob Cross to provide the biggest challenge to the Dutch master.
Cross begins his first tournament as World Champion in Friday’s opening night session against Ian White, while MVG will open his bid for a fourth successive title against Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts.
Last year’s runner up, Gary Anderson — who has recently sunk number four seed — will play Dutchman Benito van de Pas, while world number two Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright opens up against Alan Norris. World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney will also be making his Masters debut, facing off against Gerwyn Price. Intriguingly, Simon Whitlock will match up against James Wade, tournament winner here in 2014.
Elsewhere, Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic meets Michael Smith while Dave ‘Chizzy’ Chisnall with go head to head against 2015 finalist and now the tour’s senior most player, Raymond van Barneveld.
The tournament will conclude on Sunday, January 28, with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session and the semi-finals and final in the evening session at Arena MK.
Darts Masters Betting Tips
In a tourney with no low-ranked players in an event played early in the calendar year, this is never an easy one to call. That said, Mighty Mike has won the previous three, so it has been a while since the event threw up a surprise.
At an 8/11 outright price on Betway MVG doesn’t represent any value. In addition, just how well Rob Cross deals with his new status and its added pressure will be interesting to see. While we do expect Cross to have a very, very strong year, his first tourney since his World Championship will give us a clearer indication of his current mindset. Betway have him down as a 4/1 shot, which is hard not to be tempted by.
On the downside, he does have the tougher side of the draw but given the recent form shown by the next two favorites — Gary Anderson (7/1) and Peter Wright (8/1) — Cross remains a decent bet. Daryl Gurney follows next at the Betway sportsbook, but at 33/1 Gurney along with Raymond van Barneveld lead the distant chasers. Before discounting this group, remember that Rob Cross was himself, only one month ago, xx/1 to win the World Championships. Could he inspire others?
On Monday night at London’s Dorchester Hotel, the PDC staged their annual awards ceremony. Although providing little in the way of surprises, we’ll quickly run through the winners here. Michael van Gerwen was named as the PDC Player of the Year, while Rob Cross was named Best Newcomer. This was one of four wins for Cross on the night, who also scooped the PDPA Players’ Player of the Year, the PDC Fans’ Player of the Year and the Televised Performance of the Year, awarded for his brilliant World Championship semi-final defeat of reigning champion Mighty Mike van Gerwen over 11 thrilling sets including a sudden-death finish.
Peter Wright’s was named as the PDC ProTour Player of the year and finally, 23-year-old Dimitri Van den Bergh was named as the PDC Young Player of the Year.