Darts Preview: Players Championship Finals

Michael van Gerwen is looking to defend the Players Championship Finals in Minehead this weekend.

World number one Van Gerwen has been victorious at the Butlins Minehead Resort for three of the past four years, claiming a trio of Players Championship Finals titles.

The Dutchman will begin his bid to retain the title in the three-day, £460,000 tournament against 2010 champion Paul Nicholson, who is making his first appearance in a televised event for two years.

Shooting star Rob Cross will be the top seed for the event, with rankings based on prize money won in the 22 Players Championship events held this year which saw the Sussex thrower claim four victories in his debut season as a professional.

Cross will play Wales’ Robert Owen, who qualified in 64th place on the Players Championship Order of Merit, in their first round tie on Friday.

Number two seed Daryl Gurney, October’s World Grand Prix has drawn Dutch youngster Jeffrey de Zwaan, while third seed Peter Wright comes up against Steve Hine.

Fourth seed Gary Anderson, the 2014 champion, will begin his challenge for a second title as he plays Northern Irish left-hander Mickey Mansell and fifth seed Mensur Suljovic is up against Andy Boulton.

Dave Chisnall, last year’s beaten finalist, will take on Joe Murnan, while 2011 winner Kevin Painter comes up against James Wade in a bumper first round tie.

Adrian Lewis, a two-time finalist, will play Belgian youngster Mike De Decker, Auckland Darts Masters winner Kyle Anderson plays Dutchman Ron Meulenkamp and eighth seed Joe Cullen – a double Players Championship winner in 2017 – takes on Jamie Caven.

Former finalists Robert Thornton, Mervyn King, Mark Webster and Kim Huybrechts drew James Richardson, Brendan Dolan, Justin Pipe and Chris Dobey respectively.

Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld plays number nine seed Ian White, while Welshman Jonny Clayton – who won his first ranking title in the year’s final Players Championship event – drew Dutchman Jeffrey de Graaf.

Friday’s first round sees play split across two stages at the Butlins Minehead Resort, with the second and third rounds being held on Saturday.

Sunday sees play focused on the main stage, with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session and the semi-finals and final in the evening session, which also features the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship final between Josh Payne and Dimitri Van den Bergh.

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