Hooray! Tonight sees the return of live tournament darts as the Darts Masters series returns.
Tonight, Phil “The Power” Taylor begins his bid for a third successive Sydney Darts Masters win as he faces an opening test against DPA Qualifier, Melbourne-based bricklayer Clinton ‘Tic’ Bridge.
Following back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015, reigning champion Taylor is familiar with what it takes to win Down Under, a place where he has been undefeated since the PDC introduced the World Series of Darts in 2013. In fact, there was an untelevised event in Perth last weekend where the winner was (you guessed it) The Power himself.
Tonight’s event, however, takes place at the Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney’s Darling Harbour where he plays an Aussie qualifier in the first round.
Elsewhere, Adrian Lewis faces off against Simon Whitlock in the heavyweight tie of the round, while Raymond Van Barneveld faces another qualifier from the continent in New Zealand’s Cody Harris.
World and Premier League champion Gary Anderson has been drawn against the final DPA qualifier Warren Parry, a player who remarkably sent Michael van Gerwen packing at last year’s tournament. Van Gerwen will hope to go better this year and gets to begin his run with a win against Australian World Cup star Paul Nicholson.
Last week’s runner-up in Perth, James Wade, meets the only DPNZ Qualifier Craig Caldwell, while Peter Wright (who made the final of the Japanese leg) steps out against PA Australian Grand Prix winner Loz Ryder. Stephen Bunting, who came second last year in Sydney, drew David Platt.
Despite being seeded first, Phil Taylor has been priced at a very generous 5/1 at bet365. Naturally, MVG goes into the tourney as favourite but, at 10/11, seems a pointless bet.
I am going to go for third seed, Scotland’s Gary Anderson at 4/1, purely because of the form he has shown intermittently this year. For those of you that like looking for the longer prices, Anderson’s countryman Peter “Snakebite” Wright at 16/1 and Englishman Adrian “Jackpot” Lewis look sound bets for this year’s Sydney Darts Masters.
After tonight’s first round, the tournament continues tomorrow with the quarter-finals before the semi-finals and final on Saturday.
First round draw
Phil Taylor (1) v Clinton Bridge
Stephen Bunting (8) v David Platt
James Wade (5) v Craig Caldwell
Peter Wright (4) v Loz Ryder
Michael van Gerwen (2) v Paul Nicholson
Raymond van Barneveld (7) v Cody Harris
Adrian Lewis (6) v Simon Whitlock
Gary Anderson (3) v Warren Parry