The Players Championship Finals are only around the corner in what is the last tournament before the PDC World Darts Championship next month. Peter Wright will not defend his title after withdrawing from the tournament due to family reasons but could an old guard return to winning ways before a return to the Alexandra Palace?
Simon Whitlock returned to major action having appeared at the Grand Slam of Darts, losing out in the Last 16 to Raymond van Barneveld in arguably one of the matches of the tournament.
The Wizard earnt his country their very first World Cup of Darts title back in June along with partner Damon Heta. The Australian duo defeated Wales 3-1 in the Final, racing into a 2-0 lead after Welsh pair Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton lost their opening singles matches.
Whitlock faces a rematch with Danny Noppert at Butlin’s Minehead Resort, with the Winmau pair also drawn into Group B at the Grand Slam of Darts. The Freeze won 5-2 in the second group game but the Australian will fancy his chances in a competition, having reached the Semi-Finals back in 2012.
Raymond van Barneveld rallied the Barney Army in Wolverhampton, achieving a memorable run having come through the tour card qualifier a week before the Grand Slam kicked off. The Dutchman topped Group A which included World Number 1 Gerwyn Price before beating the Iceman 16-13 in the Quarter Finals, his second win of the tournament against the 2021 World Champion.
Barney lost in the Semi-Finals 16-12 to eventual winner Michael Smith, who included a staggering 17 maximums in Sunday’s afternoon session.
Van Barneveld faces Kim Huybrechts in the First Round of the Players Championship Finals, with the pair both former Premier League players at one stage back in 2015.
Mervyn King has come so close to winning the Players Championship Finals, losing out in the Final in 2010 and 2020. The most recent Final was an agonising 11-10 defeat to Michael van Gerwen, with the veteran beating the likes of Damon Heta and Peter Wright to earn his spot in the Final.
The King has had a quiet year failing to win a single Players Championship event but qualifies on the Order of Merit performing well enough in the 30 events staged throughout the year.
The Englishman will face Ryan Searle in the First Round with Heavy Metal coming into Minehead on the back of a disappointing campaign in the Grand Slam, finishing bottom of Group H behind Scott Williams in third. Could the Winmau man deal the World Number 17 even more misery just before Ally Pally.
Gary Anderson has certainly had a year to forget, finishing bottom of the Premier League before a First-Round exit to Daryl Gurney at the World Matchplay. The Scotsman enjoyed a strong run to the Final of Players Championship 5 losing to World Cup of Darts winner Damon Heta in the Final.
The Flying Scotsman has won the event once, coming back in 2014 after he beat former back-to-back World Champion Adrian Lewis 11-6 in the Final.
Anderson who reached the Semi-Finals of the last World Championship takes on German Number 1 Gabriel Clemens in the First Round looking to bring back the good times, before a return to the capital for another Ally Pally campaign.
Steve Beaton qualified for the World Championship earlier on in the year and will also make his way to Minehead having performed well enough to qualify through the Pro Tour Order of Merit.
The Bronzed Adonis is one of the most experienced heads in the sport, still going strong at 58 having won his first World Championship back in 1996 beating Ritchie Burnett 6-3 in sets.
The Englishman will face Canadian Matt Campbell in the First Round in a match the Winmau man will fully back himself to get over the line in. Ginger Ninja reached the Final of Players Championship 13 losing 8-6 in the Final to Nathan Aspinall back in April with the 33-year-old improving year by year in the PDC.
Mensur Suljovic will be looking for redemption in Minehead, having narrowly crashed out in the group stages of the Grand Slam. The Gentle came third in Group B behind Danny Noppert and Simon Whitlock, needing to beat the reigning UK Open champion by three legs in a race to five legs to keep himself alive in Wolverhampton.
The Austrian missed out narrowly on a spot in the World Matchplay but has returned to form to qualify for the Players Championship Finals. Suljovic reached the Semi-Finals back in 2015, losing to Adrian Lewis having beat Ian White and Michael Smith to reach the Last 4.
The 51-year-old will face former Premier League champion James Wade in the First Round in a difficult draw, with the Aldershot man finishing in the Premier League top four to qualify for Finals night ahead of World Number 1 Gerwyn Price and World Champion Peter Wright in the table.
The Players Championship Finals start on Friday live on ITV Sport 4 with 2018 World Champion Rob Cross facing youngster Kevin Doets in the opening match on the main stage.
Players Championships Finals 2022 Order of Play
Rob Cross v Kevin Doets
Joe Cullen v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Damon Heta v Ricardo Pietreczko
James Wade v Mensur Suljovic
Josh Rock v Cameron Menzies
Gian van Veen v Ross Smith
Nathan Aspinall v Martijn Kleermaker
Dimitri van den Bergh v Martin Lukeman
Danny Noppert v Simon Whitlock
Michael Smith v Ritchie Edhouse
Gerwyn Price v Ryan Joyce
Kim Huybrechts v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Ryan Meikle
Luke Humphries v Nathan Rafferty
Andrew Gilding v Ricky Evans
Callan Rydz v Madars Razma
Daryl Gurney v Keegan Brown
Scott Williams v Alan Soutar
Brendan Dolan v Jermaine Wattimena
Jim Williams v Mike de Decker
Krzysztof Ratajski v William O’Connor
Adrian Lewis v Keane Barry
Jose de Sousa v Danny Jansen
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Micky Mansell
Ryan Searle v Mervyn King
Stephen Bunting v Jamie Hughes
Chris Dobey v Geert Nentjes
Martin Schindler v Vincent van der Voort
Jonny Clayton v John O’Shea
Matt Campbell v Steve Beaton
Gabriel Clemens v Gary Anderson
Dave Chisnall v Niels Zonneveld
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