Michael van Gerwen will begin the defence of his Players Championship Finals title against 2010 winner Paul Nicholson, whilst top seed Rob Cross will take on Robert Owen, after the draw for next month’s event in Minehead was confirmed following the culmination of the Players Championship season.
The Players Championship Finals was expanded last year which sees the field doubled in size, as 64 players compete for over £400,000 in prize money across three days, live on ITV4. Qualification is based solely on performances across the series of 22 Players Championship tournaments held during 2017.
Van Gerwen is bidding for a third successive Players Championship Finals title next month, but he will enter the tournament as sixth seed. ‘The Green Machine’ only competed in eight of the 22 Players Championship events held this year due to the impending birth of his first child, daughter Zoe, who was born in August.
However, the world number one won two of the eight events he competed in, pocketing £31,750 in prize money. He will take on 2010 Players Championship Finals champion Paul Nicholson in round-one, after ‘The Asset’ finished 59th on the Players Championship Order of Merit.
Nevertheless, the top seed in Minehead will be Rob Cross- who has enjoyed an incredible debut season in the PDC. ‘Voltage’ was working as an electrician this time twelve months ago, but his meteoric rise has seen him secure four Players Championship titles and a total of £62,500 across the 22 events.
World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney is the second seed for next month’s event, having clinched his maiden PDC title at Players Championship seven in Barnsley back in April. ‘Super-Chin’ also reached the final of two other events, before going on to secure Grand Prix glory on the emerald isle last week.
He will take on resurgent Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan, who defeated Dave Chisnall, Terry Jenkins, Stephen Bunting and Michael Smith across the final two days of Players Championship action in Barnsley- reaching the semi-finals of Wednesday’s event to sneak into the qualification places.
New world number two Peter Wright is seeded third and will take on ‘The Muffin Man’ Steve Hine, appearing in his first PDC televised major since the 2015 UK Open. Meanwhile, two-time world champion Gary Anderson will take on Northern Ireland’s Mickey Mansell, seeded 61st in Minehead.
Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic takes on Scotland’s Andy Boulton, whilst last year’s finalist Dave Chisnall meets former Pro Tour winner Joe Murnan in round-one. Elsewhere, eighth seed Joe Cullen plays Jamie Caven, who sneaked into Minehead by reaching the semi-finals of the final Players Championship event.
Another stand-out tie sees ninth seed Ian White play five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld. The legendary Dutchman finished 56th on the Order of Merit having only competed in ten Players Championship events this year, but he reached the quarter-finals of last year’s competition, despite entering that event as 58th seed.
Kyle Anderson and Darren Webster, who both tasted Players Championship success in the summer, will meet Ron Meulenkamp and Antonio Alcinas respectively, whilst Jonny Clayton, who clinched his maiden PDC title in the final event of 2017, locks horns against former BDO star Jeffrey de Graaf.
Alan Norris, who triumphed in the first Players Championship event of the year back in March, faces a crunch first-round clash against Jelle Klaasen, whilst Klaasen’s compatriot Jan Dekker takes on 14th seed and former World-Youth champion Michael Smith.
Belgian number one Kim Huybrechts will toe the oche against 2016 Grand Slam quarter-finalist Chris Dobey, as 16th seed Richard North makes his Players Championship debut against the imposing Peter Hudson- also making his debut in Minehead.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis is 17th seed this year and faces a battle against young Belgian Mike De Decker, whereas former World Grand Prix and UK Open champion Robert Thornton meets James Richardson.
World Grand Prix finalist Simon Whitlock will play former Lakeside world champion Christian Kist in a repeat of their first-round tie at the Citywest Hotel last week. Kist missed one match dart before ‘The Wizard’ went on to reach his first major final since July 2013, therefore the Dutchman will be seeking retribution this time around.
Another exciting tie sees James Wade clash with 2012 Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter. Both men have endured mixed years on the Pro Tour, with Wade seeded 25th and Painter 40th, but the pair both relish the big occasion in what promises to be an exciting clash.
1996 Lakeside world champion Steve Beaton plays Belgian stalwart Ronny Huybrechts, as UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price is pitted against Dutch star Jimmy Hendriks, who has enjoyed a strong debut year on the Pro Tour since securing his PDC tour card in January.
Mervyn King and Brendan Dolan will clash in a battle of the veterans, whilst two-time Minehead semi-finalist Justin Pipe meets former Lakeside world champion Mark Webster- a finalist here back in 2012.
World Grand Prix semi-finalist John Henderson aims to continue his resurgence against Darren Johnson, and Players Championship 22 finalist James Wilson locks horns against Irish Matchplay winner William O’Connor- who reached the first Pro Tour semi-final of his career on Tuesday.
Former world champion Stephen Bunting takes on 37th seed Benito van de Pas- who has struggled in floor events since winning three Players Championship events back in 2016. Steve West and Ryan Searle will contest an all-English first-round tie, whilst quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena plays former World-Youth champion Keegan Brown.
The remaining first-round ties see Vincent van der Voort play Robbie Green, newcomer Peter Jacques take on Spanish star Cristo Reyes, before Irish youngster Steve Lennon meets Austria’s 33rd seed Zoran Lerchbacher- who reached his maiden PDC final earlier this year.
The tournament gets underway on Friday November 24th, which sees play split across two stages in two sessions for the first round, with the second and third rounds being held on Saturday across two stages.
Sunday’s decisive final day sees the action centred on the main stage with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session and the semi-finals and final in a blockbuster evening session. The full draw and tournament bracket can be viewed below.
Photo Credit: Russell Pritchard/PDC
2017 Cash Converters Players Championship Finals
Rob Cross (1) v Robert Owen (64)
Steve Lennon (32) v Zoran Lerchbacher (33)
Richard North (16) v Peter Hudson (49)
Adrian Lewis (17) v Mike De Decker (48)
Joe Cullen (8) v Jamie Caven (57)
James Wade (25) v Kevin Painter (40)
Ian White (9) v Raymond van Barneveld (56)
John Henderson (24) v Darren Johnson (41)
Mensur Suljovic (5) v Andy Boulton (60)
Stephen Bunting (28) v Benito van de Pas (37)
Jonny Clayton (12) v Jeffrey de Graaf (53)
Gerwyn Price (21) v Jimmy Hendriks (44)
Gary Anderson (4) v Mickey Mansell (61)
Jermaine Wattimena (29) v Keegan Brown (36)
Alan Norris (13) v Jelle Klaasen (52)
Steve Beaton (20) v Ronny Huybrechts (45)
Daryl Gurney (2) v Jeffrey de Zwaan (63)
Vincent van der Voort (31) v Robbie Green (34)
Kim Huybrechts (15) v Chris Dobey (50)
Robert Thornton (18) v James Richardson (47)
Dave Chisnall (7) v Joe Murnan (58)
James Wilson (26) v William O’Connor (39)
Kyle Anderson (10) v Ron Meulenkamp (55)
Justin Pipe (23) v Mark Webster (42)
Michael van Gerwen (6) v Paul Nicholson (59)
Steve West (27) v Ryan Searle (38)
Darren Webster (11) v Antonio Alcinas (54)
Mervyn King (22) v Brendan Dolan (43)
Peter Wright (3) v Steve Hine (62)
Peter Jacques (30) v Cristo Reyes (35)
Michael Smith (14) v Jan Dekker (51)
Simon Whitlock (19) v Christian Kist (46)