The stars of the PDC are off to Butlin’s Minehead this weekend for the 2021 renewal of the Players Championship Finals in what is the player’s last chance to win a piece of silverware before next month’s Darts World Championship, which gets underway on Wednesday December the 15th.
The £500,000 three-day event features the top 64 players from the 2021 Players Championship Order of Merit and is thankfully back at its traditional home after being staged behind closed doors in Coventry at the Micoh Arena in 2020.
Returning champ, Michael van Gerwen is looking to win the title for the seventh time and third in a row, but it is world number one Gerwyn Price who will rightfully be the favourite.
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Last Sunday The Iceman blew away Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright in the final of the World Grand Slam of Darts to win the event for the third time in four years.
In truth, Price didn’t play that well during the week but still had too much for his rivals, even arguably the best player this season, fellow countryman Jonny Clayton, who he beat in the semi-final.
The Welsh pair will, along with van Gerwen and Wright, again carry the biggest threat.
The best tend to win
This isn’t a tourney that normally springs surprises as shown by the fact the duel leading forces of darts over the past 20 years – Michael van Gerwen and GOAT Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor – have taken down the title nine times out of the last 13 renewals of the event.
The draw has seen world number two Peter Wright and world number three Van Gerwen put into the same quarter.
Price looks like the man to beat after he improved across the week in Wolverhampton and was ruthless of his dismantling of Snakebite at the weekend.
Bet365 has put a 10/3 price on the head of, er, Price to win the tourney outright, something that is completely feasible.
Otherwise, at slightly bigger odds, are Mighty Mike at 9/2 and Peter Wright at 8/1, again both with bet365.
Go Jonny go go go
All of the players will be looking at sharpening up their form ahead of the Ally Pally extravaganza next month, but one player who carries a serious threat this year, and one that would be deserving given the year he has had, is the popular Jonny Clayton.
The Ferret has stormed into the world’s top eight this year on the back of his success, but is clearly – and before very long will surely be – in the world’s top four players right now.
Go Go Jonny is the undisputed player of the year and at bet365’s 11/2 is well worth a punt.
Further down the pack, Michael ‘Bully Boy’ Smith showed a return to form in the Grand Slam.
Great to watch, Smith looked in great shape in Wolverhampton and topped his group, which contained Anderson and the returning Raymond van Barneveld, undefeated before dismissing Joe Cullen and Michael Van Gerwen in the knockout stages before losing to Snakebite in the semis.
Speaking of Joe Cullen, while I can’t see a win coming here, he too is improving and averaged 95 over four matches before running into Bully Boy during Round Two.
Bet365 are offering 25/1 on Michael Smith and 55/1 on Joe Cullen to win the first major.
Players Championship Finals 2021 Schedule
Friday November 26
First Round (Best of 11 legs)
- Ryan Searle v Simon Whitlock
- Krzysztof Ratajski v Ron Meulenkamp
- Michael Smith v William Borland
- Joe Cullen v Andy Boulton
- Dimitri Van den Bergh v Madars Razma
- James Wade v Ricky Evans
- Nathan Aspinall v Jeff Smith
- Adrian Lewis v Kim Huybrechts
- Scott Mitchell v Martijn Kleermaker
- Ryan Joyce v Luke Woodhouse
- Martin Schindler v Ian White
- Mervyn King v Darius Labanauskas
- Brendan Dolan v Chas Barstow
- Ross Smith v Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
- Danny Noppert v Rowby-John Rodriguez
- Gabriel Clemens v Steve Beaton
- Stephen Bunting v Gary Anderson
- Raymond van Barneveld v Maik Kuivenhoven
- Rob Cross v Jermaine Wattimena
- Jose de Sousa v Devon Petersen
- Gerwyn Price v Jason Lowe
- Michael van Gerwen v Kevin Doets
- Peter Wright v Keane Barry
- Jonny Clayton v Alan Tabern
- Vincent van der Voort v Jamie Hughes
- Daryl Gurney v Alan Soutar
- Damon Heta v Steve Lennon
- Callan Rydz v Mensur Suljovic
- Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ryan Meikle
- Luke Humphries v Jason Heaver
- Chris Dobey v William O’Connor
- Dave Chisnall v Ritchie Edhouse
Saturday November 27
Second Round (Best of 11 legs)
- 16 matches
Third Round (Best of 19 legs)
- Eight Matches
Sunday November 28
Quarter-Finals (Best of 19 legs)
- Four Matches
- Semi-Finals (Best of 21 Legs)
- Final (Best of 21 legs)
Quick glance at the Players Championship Finals 2021
Venue: Butlins Resort, Minehead
Dates: Friday 26 November – Sunday 28 November 2021
Format: Best of 11, 19 and 21 legs
Current Champion: Michael van Gerwen
Where To Watch: ITV 4
When To Watch: 12:45 & 19:00