64 players who battled through 30 Players Championship events now have the chance of a big payoff at the end.
Of course, not everyone featured in all 30 events. That’s why the current world numbers one and two are seeds 18 and 42 respectively. A certain Gary Anderson, the 2014 champion, hasn’t even made it to Minehead. For players hoping to build on success, make a career breakthrough or even save their PDC Tour Card, the Players Championship Finals constitute a massive opportunity.
A way for Jose?
The Players Championship Finals are the only PDC event other than fellow Minehead-based major UK Open to have games taking place across multiple stages. We start here with the headliners on Stage One. Dimitri van den Bergh meets Stephen Bunting, then Jose de Sousa takes on James Richardson. It has been a fantastic season for the Portuguese, a winner of two Players Championship titles and runner-up in another. He’s taken some major scalps across the campaign, and could be a serious dark horse if he hits his stride early.
A year ago, Glen Durrant and Scott Baker were both BDO players. Both reached Q-School – Baker qualified first, and reached the semi-finals of Players Championship 1. It’s fair to say that Durrant has eclipsed the Mod somewhat since then. Could he make it to an incredible four major semi-finals in a row?
Max Hopp has been a part of Players Championship history this year. The German – whose prospects for the next 12 months have been boosted by recent European Tour revelations – will be aiming for a rare strong run on English shores. The Maximiser players a badly out-of-sorts Jelle Klaasen. Grand Prix semi-finalist Chris Dobey clashes with Cristo Reyes, and Simon Whitlock faces a tough prospect in the form of Players Championship 14 winner Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Michael Smith and Martin Schindler might be a little sick of each other by now. The pair duked it out in their recent Grand Slam group tie, which Smith just about edged. The last tie gives Devon Petersen a chance to gain some crucial pre-Ally Pally ranking money. Ian White, fresh off another major tournament suckerpunch, picks himself up for another attempt at glory.
Chizzy’s inauspicious start
Let’s not forget Stage Two, where there are some close-looking encounters to be played. First among them is the imposing youngster Harry Ward, who won Players Championship 16. That success came one day after Darius Labanauskas reached his first Pro Tour final – his endeavours earned him a spot here, and a game against Ward.
Two veterans of the game follow the debutants, with Justin Pipe playing Mervyn King. Both are Players Championship Finals nearly-men. Pipe has lost three semi-finals in this event; King made it to the last day of play for five years in a row from 2009-13 (including defeat in the 2010 final) but hasn’t got past the second round since. Brendan Dolan, whose duo of Players Championship titles have helped him enjoy a recent renaissance, is pitted against Ross Smith.
John Henderson was a consistent board winner in the opening stages of the Players Championship campaign, but faded over time. The loveable Scot is still 20th seed and faces Ryan Joyce, who fell off the radar after a brilliant World Championship run last December. Keegan Brown takes on Andy Boulton in the fifth tie before another all-English clash between Steve Beaton and Ricky Evans.
Ryan Searle seeks important ranking money as he locks horns with Danny Noppert, and an even more threatening situation faces world number 67 Matthew Edgar. Primetime’s problem is that he faces a formidable opening opponent in Dave Chisnall. Despite starting on the secondary stage, seventh seed Chisnall is a major contender here. A two-time Players Championship winner in 2019, the former finalist has won each of his last four first round ties in Minehead.
There are going to be a lot of darts thrown at the Players Championship Finals. The best way to follow every single one is right here, in our live score feature.
Players Championship Finals 2019 schedule
Day One, afternoon session
13:00 Dimitri Van den Bergh v Stephen Bunting
13:30 Jose de Sousa v James Richardson
14:00 Glen Durrant v Scott Baker
14:30 Max Hopp v Jelle Klaasen
15:00 Chris Dobey v Cristo Reyes
15:30 Jeffrey de Zwaan v Simon Whitlock
16:00 Michael Smith v Martin Schindler
16:30 Ian White v Devon Petersen
13:00 Harry Ward v Darius Labanauskas
13:30 Justin Pipe v Mervyn King
14:00 Brendan Dolan v Ross Smith
14:30 John Henderson v Ryan Joyce
15:00 Keegan Brown v Andy Boulton
15:30 Steve Beaton v Ricky Evans
16:00 Danny Noppert v Ryan Searle
16:30 Dave Chisnall v Matthew Edgar
Author: Ed McCosh