The top sixteen ranked players compete in the two-day non-ranking PDC Masters event 1-3 February 2019, televised live on terrestrial TV, ITV4 / ITVSport in the UK and various other channels across the world.
Michael van Gerwen who won the PDC World Darts Championship final against Michael ‘Bully Boy’ Smith in 2019 will line up as the favourite to retain ‘the Masters’ title. Michael has won the Masters event for the past four years and current form suggests he will add a fifth title to the list of many titles he holds.
Noticeably absent from the list is last years runner-up Raymond van Barneveld as he has crashed out of the top sixteen after a disastrous first round exit in the 2019 World Darts Championships. 2019 will be the last year Barney will compete at a professional level in the PDC as he has announced his retirement from the sport at the end of the 2020 World Darts Championships.
Of the top sixteen players, Michael Smith will be eagerly be waiting to continue his success of the 2018 season. The 2019 World Champion runner-up will be hoping for a rematch against Micheal van Gerwen and the bookmakers reviews give favourable odds on Michael doing well in 2019. However, all who feature in this event will want to make a statement to show why they are the top players in the world.
Adrian Lewis, the former back-to-back two-time PDC World Champion, has managed to climb back up the ranking following a period of poor play due to a back injury. Lewis had surgery and missed a number of key events meaning his ranking fell. It has been a long hard struggle for the ex-world champion but he is back and is one of the most exciting players to watch when he is on top form. Noted for his ‘blind’ 180 and 9 dart finish in the World Championship finals against Gary Anderson in 2011, Lewis fans will, without doubt, will be rooting for him to do well in 2019.
Peter was another player to lose his first-round match in the 2019 World Championships. The colourful ‘clown of darts’ is renowned for changing his darts equipment. It seems every event Peter played in 2018 he sported a new darts setup. Pundits have questioned why he changes so much but could the truth be simpler, he may gain a royalty for darts sold under his name! Peter will say he like to change and experiment with different setups in order to gain the small margins that mean winning or losing at the very highest level.
Peters choice of darts at the 2019 World Championships was not good as he failed to hit crucial doubles. He vowed to sort out his darts equipment for 2019 and stay with a preferred set! We will wait and see Peter!
Gary was tipped to win the 2019 World Championships. His play running up to this tournament made many think he was the player to beat, but it was not to be. In interviews, Gary has clearly stated that he wants to play at the top level for a few more years then retire from the sport. However, a player of his calibre has lots to offer and many fans hope that he will stay much longer than a few years more.
Travel and the amount of PDC events now being played across the world will see Gary and many others visit the USA, Holland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and many other destinations during 2019. This does take its toll so top players now pick and chose the events to play in. The Masters will show what form Gary is in and how likely he is to perform in the 2019 Premier League that starts the following week.
The 2018 World Darts Champion could replicate his outstanding performance during the remaining 2018 season. Ron struggled with the overwhelming attention a current ‘World Champion’ endures, unlike Michael van Gerwen who relishes the attention and thrives on being announced as the World Champion and world no.1.
Rob said he failed to Practice as he would normally do due to other media commitments. He says in an interview ‘now that monkey (world champion title) is off my back, I can concentrate on my game’. Let's hope we see Rob back in top form at the Masters as he will be one to watch for 2019.
James Wade annoyed loyal fans with his antics at the World Darts Championships, he later apologised but he has to drown out the booing he has received since the said match!
Mensur Suljović and Simon Whitlock also had a bad start in the 2019 World Championships, however, both players are more than capable of winning the Masters
New boys in town, Darren Webster, Jonny Clayton, Joe Cullen will all be looking to impress and the Masters is a good platform for all to show how well they are playing.
2019 PDC events just get bigger and better. Barry Hearn has announced there will be a total of £14m in prize money for the season, the biggest in history. The 30 tour cards up for grabs in the Q School qualification will be highly contested as many of the big named players from the BDO will compete hoping to win and play on the lucrative PDC darts circuit.