We’re sure to see some fireworks in Las Vegas on Day Two of the US Darts Masters.

The eight PDC invitees all stormed their way into the second round, against opponents who may have had an eye on the impending North American Championship. It’s the first time that the top dogs have all met on the second day of play, which makes the outcome of the US Darts Masters hard to call.

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

Most of the time, when you’re calling the winner of any tournament that features a certain Michael van Gerwen in the roster, the choice is clear. The US Darts Masters isn’t an exception. But the Dutchman wobbled a bit in round one against Darin Young. He admitted that Big Daddy’s methodical style upset his rhythm a little, which makes Michael Smith the perfect tonic. The St Helens ace was pushed by Jim Long but kept the Canadian at arm’s length, and can now have another shot at the man who denied him a first world title back in January.

Ooooh. Oh-ho-ho. Here we go. Rub your hands together, lick your lips. This going to be TASTY.

…or not. Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price aren’t interested in reigniting the rivalry that exploded in a shower of controversy at the Grand Slam last year. The pair haven’t met since that fateful Wolverhampton clash. This could be a little awkward, but it’s unlikely to be acrimonious. Anderson is the sort of player who prefers to step up, play, and get off sharpish. Price, meanwhile, has become a much more focused player in recent months. The only aim is US Darts Masters success.

Given their quality, this should be an excellent game – despite the pair not playing at their best on Thursday. But if not; can we get just a little bit of needle, please?

Lucas Peltier/PDC

Photo: Lucas Peltier/PDC

Rat Race

Now all the North American entrants are gone, Nathan Aspinall is the rank outsider for the US Darts Masters title. As the least experienced of the group (bar perhaps his opponent Rob Cross, who has been on the Pro Tour for two years fewer), and the lowest in the world rankings, the Asp has it all to do. Cross was excellent against the talented Leonard Gates, not letting the Texan get a look in. Do that again, and Voltage will almost certainly avenge a disappointing UK Open final defeat to the Stockport star.

Daniel Baggish’s run to the North American Championship title has put Daryl Gurney’s 6-1 US Darts Masters win over the Floridian into even starker context. The American scored well in places; Gurney simply refused to give him a look in. The Northern Irishman goes through spells of absolute ruthlessness which make him one of the game’s most dangerous players. Peter Wright, a nervy winner over defeated NAC finalist Jeff Smith, is in the firing line.

Lucas Peltier/PDC

Photo: Lucas Peltier/PDC

The Hangover

There won’t be too much time for the players to recover from their quarter-finals before the latter two stages of the tournament.

We know there’ll be a Michael in the last four. Van Gerwen or Smith’s semi-final opponent will be either Gary Anderson or Gerwyn Price. The winner of Rob Cross and Nathan Aspinall’s meeting will play Daryl Gurney or Peter Wright.

It means we could yet see a repeat of either the 2017 US Darts Masters final, where Michael van Gerwen beat Daryl Gurney, or the 2018 edition, where Gary Anderson defeated Rob Cross.

All the action tonight starts at 8pm BST, with the ITV4 coverage starting at 7.45pm.

US Darts Masters schedule, Day Two

Quarter-Finals
20:00 Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith
20:50 Gary Anderson v Gerwyn Price
21:40 Rob Cross v Nathan Aspinall
22:30 Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright

Semi-Finals
Van Gerwen/Smith v Anderson/Price
Cross/Aspinall v Gurney/Wright

Final
Winner SF1 v Winner SF2

Lucas Peltier/PDC

Photo: Lucas Peltier/PDC

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Author: Ed McCosh