Televised darts is back on our screens this weekend when a number of the leading lights in the game head to Amsterdam for the World Series of Darts Finals, the event which kicks four months of top class darts into life.
Gerwyn Price filled his boots in this tournament a year ago and he will be looking to defend his title but there have been plenty of good performers make their way into the draw so this might not a straightforward title defence.
2021 – Jonny Clayton
2020 – Gerwyn Price
2019 – Michael van Gerwen
2018 – James Wade
2017 – Michael van Gerwen
2016 – Michael van Gerwen
2015 – Michael van Gerwen
We are back to normal in terms of the field this week. The leading lights from the entire World Series tour are here along with one or two who have qualified through different routes. We are left with 24 players going at it for the title – eight seeds and 16 unseeded players. The 16 unseeded players meet over the best of 11 on Friday evening with the winners going through to face a seed in the second round over the same format on Saturday evening. The tournament concludes on Sunday with the best of 19 quarter finals before the semi-finals and final over the best of 21 legs.
This is one of those events where a different Order of Merit is used to determine the seeded players and with Rob Cross winning the most money in the qualifying events it is him who will be the number one seed this week. The defending champion Gerwyn Price is the second seed with the world champion going into the tournament as the third seed. Michael van Gerwen didn’t play all of the qualifying events but he did do enough to earn the tag of fourth seed. The other four seeded players who skip the first round and head straight into Saturday are Dimitri Van den Bergh, Peter Wright, Nathan Aspinall and Luke Humphries.
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16 men have been invited into the draw or qualified to enter it in the first round stage and they include the star home trio of Dirk van Duijvenbode, Danny Noppert and Raymond van Barneveld who certainly aren’t going to lack for crowd support this weekend. Jonny Clayton is another standout name entering in the first round while the winner of the European Tour event last weekend, Krzysztof Ratajski, is in the field too. The Australian pair of Damon Heta and Simon Whitlock are both in the field while the likes of Jeff Smith, Ricky Evans, Gabriel Clemens, Keegan Brown, Martin Schindler, William O’Connor and Graham Usher will be looking to kick off a big run of darts with a positive weekend.
With the majority of the top five in the world rankings all in the bottom half of the draw this week this feels like an opportunity for someone to come through in the top half and have a good weekend and I like the number one seed Rob Cross. The fact that he is the number one seed tells us how well he has been playing this season, particularly recently because he is in the position he is in on the bracket due to winning both World Series events down under last month.
That feels significant because since then there has only been a handful of Players Championship events, of which Cross has reached two quarter finals, and a European Tour event so a lot of this field haven’t been overly active in the last couple of months. Of those that have Cross is clearly playing as well as anyone and in a draw which is destined to open up because of the best of 11 leg nature of the early rounds, the top seed feels like the one to be on this weekend.
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