It’s time again for the PDC World Series to say g’day to the land Down Under. Oceanic action starts with the Brisbane Darts Masters.

It’s the second ever installment of the Brisbane Darts Masters; the first, a year ago, was won by Rob Cross. The defending World Matchplay champion will be back to defend his title. Among the PDC stars are a handful of Australian aces, and the homegrown contingent should also give the Brisbane faithful plenty to shout about.

We start with the next leg of the Raymond van Barneveld Farewell Special. Barney reappears on the big stage as he plays Down Under for the last time. Having been handed a spot at all three Oceanic World Series events, the door for the World Series Finals has been left ajar. Haupai Puha is in a similar boat – the DPA qualifier will also appear in Melbourne and Hamilton after this. The 34-year-old has some serious talent, most recently showcased  at the World Cup of Darts. Only four players averaged higher than Puha in the singles during the second round (unfortunately Devon Petersen, who thrashed him 4-0, was one of them). Barney can’t afford to cruise through this one.

Next on the bill is world number three Daryl Gurney, who takes on Koha Kokiri. The pair met at the 2017 Perth Darts Masters, with Gurney running out a 6-0 winner. That’s followed by DPA top dog Damon Heta, whose performances last year earned him a spot at the World Series Finals. The man who took that title in Austria, James Wade, is his first round opponent.

There’s plenty of needle between Brendon McCausland and Simon Whitlock. And I mean that literally – it’s said that McCausland once gave Whitlock a tattoo. Crossfit coach McCausland has his work cut out for him, and won’t even have the backing of the Brisbane crowd. As Australia’s number one, Whitlock will be backed to the hilt.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Ando faces royal rumble

Rob Cross has won one World Series title to date – in this very location, a year ago. Voltage saw off Tim Pusey, Corey Cadby, Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen to take the title. First in the firing line for the PDC’s most recent major winner is James Bailey, a Brisbane Darts Masters debutant who has won four DPA titles this year.

Plenty of pundits have stepped up to ensure us that Michael van Gerwen’s just suffering a blip. Only the Dutchman can decide if the blip will be ended, or will develop into a full-on drought. A morale-boosting three-figure average and a comfortable first round win would be a nice start for him. Ben Robb, a.k.a Big Rig, will have something to say about that.

The two wildcards line up last on the schedule, and they play the two World Cup-winning Scottish stars. Gary Anderson goes first; a little ring-rusty still and reeling from World Matchplay defeat to Mervyn King, Anderson is still feeling his way back to his A-game. That could offer an opening for Corey Cadby, whose prodigious talent is no secret. The King has enjoyed some big moments on World Series stages, and will want to make a splash at the Brisbane Darts Masters.

Kyle Anderson hasn’t had the most enjoyable season to date. A late slip cost him a World Matchplay spot, and the Aussie is scrapping for spots at upcoming majors. For now, the Original can focus on taking out the top seed in Brisbane. Peter Wright was in such hot form that it’s a genuine surprise that his Blackpool run ended in the quarter-finals. Having won the German Darts Masters and made the US Darts Masters semi-finals, Snakebite has great recent World Series form to fall back on.

Play starts at 10am UK time – but coverage will be shown on ITV4 from 7pm.

Click here for all the Brisbane Darts Masters info from our Tournament Centre.

Brisbane Darts Masters schedule

First round

10:15 Raymond van Barneveld v Haupai Puha
10:45 Daryl Gurney v Koha Kokiri
11:15 James Wade v Damon Heta
11:45 Simon Whitlock v Brendon McCausland
12:15 Rob Cross v James Bailey
12:45 Michael van Gerwen v Ben Robb
13:15 Gary Anderson v Corey Cadby
13:45 Peter Wright v Kyle Anderson

Richard Walker/PDC

Photo: Richard Walker/PDC

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Author: Ed McCosh