2017 Dubai Masters preview.

2017 Dubai Duty Free Masters: Preview

2017 Dubai Masters preview.
2017 Dubai Masters preview. Gary Anderson starts his title defence against Phil Taylor, who is yet to win the event.
Photo: PDC

Anderson defends title, as Price makes World Series bow

With the 2017 Premier League season now over, it’s time for the World Series of Darts to take place, and the Dubai Duty Free Masters kicks it all off from May 24–25.

Set in the open-air Dubai Tennis Centre, it provides a unique experience for the eight arrowmsiths each year, as they have to battle with the scorching weather and breeze – as well as their superstar opponent.

This edition of the event marks a World Series debut for Welshman Gerwyn Price, while Gary Anderson is defending champion and Michael van Gerwen will be keen to win back the title he claimed the first three years here.

MvG takes on Raymond van Barneveld in a tussle of Dutch giants, The Flying Scotsman duels with all-time great Phil Taylor, Price goes up against James Wade, and Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall lock horns in the other fixture.

So, read on as Sam Barnard provides a 2017 Dubai Masters preview for Darts World, of the first round fixtures in order of play on Wednesday…

James Wade (4) v Gerwyn Price

Former professional rugby player Price, who still keeps in great shape, may well be the most suited to these Dubai conditions than the rest of the draw so it will be intriguing to see how he gets on.

The Welshman, who is on the verge of breaking into the PDC’s top 16 after a terrific year which included reaching the UK Open final, has been handed a favourable tie too against fourth seed Wade.

Englishman Wade has won three of their five meetings, including last time out this year at the German Darts Masters, but Price has had the better and more profitable 2017 to date.

On top of that, the Machine has only won once in Dubai, which was way back in the inaugural edition in 2013, when he defeated Simon Whitlock. He then convincing lost out to Raymond van Barneveld.

Peter Wright (3) v Dave Chisnall

Snakebite has seemingly put the disappointment of missing out on a Premier League title well behind him, as he bounced back immediately in the very next tournament to win Players Championship 11.

The in-form Scot also managed a huge 120.71 average in his semi-final along the way, and will be determined to keep it up and collect more silverware.

He is yet to claim a World Series trophy, though did reach the final here in 2014.

As for Chisnall, he too is in decent form, and still leads Wright 11-9 in meetings – though has won only two of their last eight.

Chizzy is making just his third appearance here, and has reached the semis on both occasions. He lost out to Wright 11-8, though, when they battled in somewhat of a poor quality affair in 2014.

Gary Anderson (2) v Phil Taylor

PDC chairman Eddie Hearn has stated that he’d love to still be able to invite the retiring Taylor to World Series events in 2018, but it remains to be seen if he accepts the offer or not.

So, we are still not certain if this will be The Power’s last appearance in Dubai, but one thing’s for sure: he’ll certainly want to win this trophy, as it’s one of the very few he is yet to get his hands on.

Taylor did reach the final in 2015, beating Anderson along the way in the semis, but then lost out to Van Gerwen.

This duo battled last year too at the same stage. On that occasion The Flying Scotsman prevailed, and went on to beat MvG.

That sets up an intriguing fight this time around, particularly as the pair were both losing Premier League semi-finalists recently too.

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Raymond van Barneveld

The Dubai Masters organisers have saved the best until last on day one. MvG v Barney is always an unmissable occasion, and this should be no different.

Mighty Mike has got the better of his Dutch compatriot over the years, but Van Barneveld has caused troubles for his young pretender on more than a few occasions.

Barney has actually won two of their last World Series meetings, but lost out to him 10-8 here in 2015.

The Dutch duo also met in the first ever Dubai Masters final in 2013, and again MvG came out on top.

Van Barneveld hasn’t won a match here since, as he narrowly lost to the eventual champions (Anderson and Van Gerwen) the last two years.

Player thoughts

Wade: “I don’t think anyone enjoys the heat and the conditions but everyone has to do the same thing. It’s the same for every player and I can’t wait.”

Wright: “My plan is to come here and win. I want to make up for losing out in the Premier League so I’m going to try and win this one.

“I think Chizzy is probably playing the best darts of anyone else and you just have to look at the end of the Premier League, when he was unbeaten in seven games, so I’ve got a very hard game.”

Meanwhile, on World Series debutant Price, Wright added: “It’s Gerwyn’s first time and it will be interesting to see how he deals with the heat on stage, but he’s a professional sportsman so he should be alright.

“You’re not sure how the darts are going to fly up there so I’m going to take two sets of darts with me on stage. If one doesn’t go, and the others don’t go, then I’m in real trouble!”

Anderson: “It’s a tough game. Phil beat me the last time we played in the Premier League so it will be hard game, and he’ll be trying his damnedest because this is his last year.

“It’s nice to get over to Dubai and be back here. Winning the event last year was a great memory and I’d love to do it again.”

Van Gerwen: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s always a fantastic tournament for me and I’ve always played well over here.

“Last year I let Gary Anderson walk away with the trophy, unfortunately I made a few mistakes, but I’m here to try to get it back again.

“That’s what you need to aim for, keep your confidence high and make sure you perform well and also prepare well because you need to get used to the heat again. I feel comfortable about it.”

Van Barneveld: “There were no easy draws and you know what you’ve got to do – play your best. To beat Michael, the Premier League champion and world champion, is going to be tough so I hope I play well tomorrow.

“Mike is a machine but someone has to stop him and why not me? If there is one player in darts that can beat him it’s me, I’ve shown that for the last two or three years.”

2017 Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters

Draw bracket
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade (4) v Gerwyn Price
Gary Anderson (2) v Phil Taylor
Peter Wright (3) v Dave Chisnall

Wednesday May 24
Quarter-finals (best of 19 legs)

Thursday May 25
Semi-finals (best of 21 legs)

Final (best of 21 legs)

Betway odds

Tournament winner
4/6 Michael van Gerwen
9/2 Peter Wright
11/2 Gary Anderson
14/1 Phil Taylor
20/1 Dave Chisnall
25/1 Raymond van Barneveld
33/1 James Wade
80/1 Gerwyn Price

Odds correct at time of writing and courtesy of www.betway.com. Subject to fluctuation.

Tickets: www.dubai-darts.com