Will MVG retain Players Championship?

By Paul Woodage 26/11/2020

Newly-crowned Grand Slam Champion, Jose de Sousa hasn’t got long to celebrate his historic victory as it’s right back to business.

The Ladbrokes Players Championships Finals is traditionally seen as the starter to the main course, the World Championships. In its inauguration the tournament was played at the beginning of the year but in 2011 the PDC decided to move it to the end.

Not surprisingly, Phil Taylor won the very first event in 2009 defeating Robert Thornton in the Circus Tavern. The tournament is famous for producing the only PDC major winner who was NOT chosen for the Premier League. That anomaly lies with Paul Nicholson who triumphed in 2010.

In addition to Taylor and Nicholson, four other players have their names engraved on the trophy. Michael van Gerwen has won it a record breaking five-times, the remaining three are Gary Anderson, Kevin Painter and Daryl Gurney.

Ordinarily the three-day event takes place at Butlins Resort in Minehead, which has been the home of the Players Championship since 2012. However. due to the current pandemic it will instead be played at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

Van Gerwen is the reigning champion of this event. He beat Gerwyn Price in the final last year but since that victory, he has only added the UK Open title in March to his name. It’s now the longest period of time the Green Machine has gone without tasting success on the big stage since famously opening the floodgates at the 2012 World Grand Prix.

As always, the draw throws up some very juicy opening round matches. Here are my six to watch....

 

ADRIAN LEWIS v SIMON WHITLOCK

On paper this looks a 180 fest. Simon Whitlock is in the form of his life right now and looked back to his best in the Grand Slam. On his day, Adrian Lewis is a match for anyone but unfortunately for the two time World Champion he has been incredibly inconsistent. Many thought his win at the Players Championships in Wigan last year would reignite Jackpot but we are yet to see that re-emergence of one of the most naturally gifted players the sport has produced. 

 

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN v DARIUS LABANAUSKAS

All eyes are on MVG these days at the start of a major tournament. The Green Machine showed that he is nearly back to his best at the Grand Slam and had he of not missed eight match darts against Simon Whitlock who knows what would have happened. Poor Darius Labanauskas seems to run into van Gerwen more than he would like to of late. The world number one dumped the Lithuanian out of last year’s World Championships and also the European Championships a month ago.

 

DEVON PETERSEN v LUKE HUMPHRIES

Perhaps not the draw either player would have been thrilled to get. Devon Petersen finally claimed his maiden PDC title in September when he lifted the German Darts Championships and has been bang in form all year, making a strong case for a spot in next year’s Premier League. Humphries has reached the World Championship quarter final in both the last two years, defeating Petersen along the way in the last one. With the big one just around the corner Cool Hand Luke would desperately like to head to Ally Pally off the back of a good showing in this tournament.

 

DARYL GURNEY v CALLAN RYDZ

On the oche, Superchin has had a year he would rather forget. He did reach the semi-final of the UK Open in March but since then has not hit the heights everyone knows he is capable of. It was at this event in 2018 when he went all the way to claim his second PDC major so it’s a tournament he knows how to win. Callan Rydz is certainly one to watch for the future. The 22-year-old Geordie has been making big strides on the circuit since topping the 2019 Challenge Tour order of merit. Many have tipped him as a future major winner, time will tell.

 

DAVE CHISNALL v MERVYN KING

No lack of experience here as these two go head to head for the 21st time in their careers. The count stands at ten wins each so someone will nudge ahead in that statistic. Arguably two of the finest players to NOT win a PDC major, the pair will be desperately looking to rectify that before they hang their darts up. It looks too good on paper to be a round one match so should be a belter.

 

GERWYN PRICE v JOHN HENDERSON

The Iceman finally had to relinquish his Grand Slam crown last week when Nathan Aspinall knocked him out in round two. Nonetheless it’s been another fantastic year for the Welshman claiming titles in the World Matchplay, World Series of Darts and with Jonny Clayton at the recent World Cup. Hendo is a dangerous opponent for anyone but with all his ability and experience has strangely only reached one major semi final, the World Grand Prix in 2017. It’s a tricky one for Price because if he isn’t on it he could be making another early exit.

 

The action is screened live on ITV4.

 

Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals

Schedule of Play

Friday November 27

First Round

Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)

Main Stage

Dirk van Duijvenbode v William O'Connor

Michael Smith v Boris Krcmar

Rob Cross v Jason Lowe

Joe Cullen v Adam Hunt

Devon Petersen v Luke Humphries

Ryan Searle v Dimitri Van den Bergh

Adrian Lewis v Simon Whitlock

Stage Two

Brendan Dolan v Luke Woodhouse

Ryan Joyce v Andy Boulton

Stephen Bunting v Ryan Murray

Krzysztof Ratajski v Karel Sedlacek

Gabriel Clemens v Martijn Kleermaker

Ian White v William Borland

Jonny Clayton v Mickey Mansell

Daryl Gurney v Callan Rydz

Dave Chisnall v Mervyn King

Evening Session (1900 GMT)

Main Stage

Nathan Aspinall v Scott Waites

Gary Anderson v Keegan Brown

James Wade v Niels Zonneveld

Peter Wright v Ryan Meikle

Michael van Gerwen v Darius Labanauskas

Gerwyn Price v John Henderson

Jose De Sousa v Mike De Decker

Stage Two

Vincent van der Voort v Derk Telnekes

Ricky Evans v Jamie Hughes

Ross Smith v Kim Huybrechts

Damon Heta v Maik Kuivenhoven

Jermaine Wattimena v Steve Lennon

Madars Razma v Chris Dobey

Glen Durrant v Wayne Jones

Darren Webster v Jeffrey de Zwaan

Danny Noppert v Steve Beaton

Saturday November 28

Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)

16 x Round Two (two stages)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)

8 x Round Three (two stages)

Sunday November 29

Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)

Quarter-Finals (one stage)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)

Semi-Finals & Final (one stage)

Plus 

PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship Final

Joe Davis v Bradley Brooks

Best of 11 legs

Format

First Round - Best of 11 legs

Second Round - Best of 11 legs

Third Round - Best of 19 legs

Quarter-Finals - Best of 19 legs

Semi-Finals - Best of 21 legs

Final - Best of 21 legs

Prize Fund

Winner - £100,000

Runner-Up - £50,000

Semi-Finalists - £25,000

Quarter-Finalists - £15,000

Third Round Losers - £10,000

Second Round Losers - £5,000

First Round Losers - £2,500

Total - £500,000

 

 

 


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