World Champion Gary Anderson will face Phil Taylor in the first round of the Players Championship Finals in Minehead, as the 2015 Pro Tour culminated in Coventry today.
Anderson won today’s final Players Championship event of 2015 at the Ricoh Arena, beating James Wade 6-2 in the final, to set up a rematch of last year’s World Championship Final against ‘The Power’ next month.
Anderson is ranked 2nd in the World, whilst Taylor is World Number 3, which makes this first-round encounter all the more remarkable.
The tournament consists of the Top 32 performing players in floor events only this year. Taylor is ranked 21st on the Pro Tour Order of Merit, purely due to his limited participation on the floor. Taylor hasn’t participated in a single European Tour event in 2015, whilst his involvement in Players Championship events has been sporadic.
Anderson’s Pro Tour form had been slightly disappointing of late, but he was in tremendous form today; beating Adrian Lewis, Stephen Bunting, Dave Chisnall and Wade en route to his 2nd Pro Tour triumph of 2015.
James Wade also enjoyed a fine run to the final, beating Phil Taylor 6-4 in the Last 16. This wonderful win secured Wade’s 100th Pro Tour quarter-final of his career; ironically a record only bettered by The Power himself.
Wade was denied a third Pro Tour title of 2015 by the Flying Scotsman, however his consistency in floor events this season is reflected by his Number 4 seeding for the Players Championship finals.
Wade will face fellow left-hander Mark Webster in the opening round, which will be a tough proposition, as the Welshman has enjoyed a tremendous renaissance over recent weeks.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld secured his spot in next month’s tournament with two last 16 appearances this weekend. van Barneveld earned his first ever victory over Kim Huybrechts today at the eighth attempt, but his run was halted by Stephen Bunting, who enjoyed a fine weekend himself.
As a consequence, van Barneveld is seeded 26th for next month’s tournament and will face Ian White in a tasty-looking first-round tussle.
Michael van Gerwen is the Number 1 seed for the event in Butlins. The 26-year-old was absent in Coventry this weekend, as he focuses on defending his European Championship crown next week.
MvG will face former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown, in a repeat of last month’s World Grand-Prix first-round clash.
Keegan’s form has been rather underwhelming over recent months, but he possesses incredible natural ability and over a short format, he can pose a significant threat to the ‘Green Machine’.
Number 2 seed Michael Smith, a two-time winner on the European Tour in 2015, will take on Jamie Caven, whilst Peter Wright, who claimed his third Players Championship title of 2015 yesterday, will meet the ‘Bronzed Adonis’ Steve Beaton in Round One.
Last year’s finalist Adrian Lewis takes on Scotland’s John Henderson, whilst World Grand-Prix Champion Robert Thornton takes on Jamie Lewis.
Brendan Dolan and Simon Whitlock, both of whom have struggled for form over recent months, will meet in an intriguing tie. Both will be quietly satisfied with their draw and that’s certainly a tough game to call.
Two-Time Minehead semi-finalist Justin Pipe takes on Vincent van der Voort, whilst 2012 finalist and fifth seed, Kim Huybrechts, takes on debutant Daryl Gurney.
Benito van de Pas will meet former Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting, whilst 9-Time major finalist Terry Jenkins will start his tournament against 2014 Lakeside finalist Alan Norris.
Another debutant at Minehead, Gerwyn Price, will play Jelle Klaasen, who has tasted victory twice on the Pro Tour this year. Mensur Suljovic will also make his first appearance in this competition next month, when he takes on veteran Mervyn King.
Dave Chisnall, semi-finalist in Coventry today, will clash with another debutant, Joe Murnan, in Round One. Murnan doesn’t hold a PDC Tour card, but was a shock Players Championship winner earlier in the year.
The full draw and tournament bracket can be found below!
Draw for Players Championships Finals:
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Keegan Brown (32)
Justin Pipe (16) v Vincent van der Voort (17)
Dave Chisnall (8) v Joe Murnan (25)
Robert Thornton (9) v Jamie Lewis (24)
Kim Huybrechts (5) v Daryl Gurney (28)
Gary Anderson (12) v Phil Taylor (21)
James Wade (4) v Mark Webster (29)
Benito van de Pas (13) v Stephen Bunting (20)
Michael Smith (2) v Jamie Caven (31)
Mensur Suljovic (15) v Mervyn King (18)
Ian White (7) v Raymond van Barneveld (26)
Jelle Klaasen (10) v Gerwyn Price (23)
Adrian Lewis (6) v John Henderson (27)
Terry Jenkins (11) v Alan Norris (22)
Peter Wright (3) v Steve Beaton (30)
Brendan Dolan (14) v Simon Whitlock (19)