The draw and schedule of play for the opening day of the Players Championship Finals has been confirmed ahead of the PDC’s return to Butlin’s Minehead Resort on Friday.
The top 64 players from this year’s 30 Players Championship events will compete across two stages as they battle for the £100,000 top prize from November 26-28, as Michael van Gerwen bids to defend his title.
Six-time champion Van Gerwen will begin his title defence on Friday evening, as he takes on fellow Dutchman Kevin Doets in one of eight first round ties on the main stage.
Grand Slam champion and world No1 Gerwyn Price kicks off his campaign against Jason Lowe, while Jonny Clayton begins his pursuit of a fifth televised title of 2021 against the veteran Alan Tabern.
A high-profile opening night also features former World Champions Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld on the Main Stage.
Top seed Jose De Sousa has been pitted against Devon Petersen in a mouth-watering first-round tie, while former world champions Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld also headline the main stage.
Grand Slam finalist Wright meets exciting Irish youngster Keane Barry, Cross faces former Premier League contender Jermaine Wattimena, Anderson plays World Championship semi-finalist Bunting in arguably the tie of round one, while Van Barneveld locks horns with his compatriot Maik Kuivenhoven.
Nathan Aspinall lifted the 2019 UK Open title in Minehead, and ‘The Asp’ returns to the scene of his greatest triumph on Friday afternoon, as he prepares to take on Canada’s former World Cup quarter-finalist Jeff Smith.
James Wade, Michael Smith, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Adrian Lewis are among the high-profile stars in action on the main stage on Friday afternoon, while the tournament gets underway with an intriguing tie between fifth seed Ryan Searle and 2012 semi-finalist Simon Whitlock.
The Stage Two action in Reds will be streamed worldwide through PDCTV, and it begins with former Lakeside world champion Scott Mitchell taking on dangerous Dutchman Martijn Kleermaker.
Two-time Players Championship Finals runner-up Mervyn King and Austrian brothers Rowby-John and Rusty-Jake Rodriguez are also in action, while German number one Gabriel Clemens meets Steve Beaton in the afternoon’s finale.
The evening session’s Stage Two action includes World Cup runner-up Mensur Suljovic, UK Open finalist Luke Humphries and 2018 champion Daryl Gurney, who meets debutant Alan Soutar.
Vincent van der Voort and Jelle Klaasen get the evening’s action underway in an all-Dutch affair, with Dave Chisnall, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Damon Heta and Chris Dobey also set to feature.
Friday’s first round winners progress to compete in two further games on Saturday, with the second round in the afternoon session ahead of the evening’s third round, before the tournament comes to a blockbuster conclusion on Sunday, with four quarter-finals in the afternoon followed by the semi-finals and final later that evening.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2021 Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals
Friday November 26
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)
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
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
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 Jelle Klaasen
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