The draw for the 2020 Ladbrokes Masters was confirmed on New Year’s Day after the conclusion of the 2020 PDC World Championship.
It will be the 8th edition of the tournament and the 6th time that it will be staged at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. Just like the snooker, the tournament features the top 16 players on the PDC Order of Merit in a fixed bracket draw. There’s no ranking points at stake but the tournament always gives us some drama and excitement!
So who plays who?
Michael van Gerwen once again returns to Milton Keynes as the defending champion. The five time winner has never lost a match at this venue so he is certainly the favourite to win it yet again. The world number one will face Welshman Jonny Clayton in a repeat of their first round clash last year in which Van Gerwen won 10-5. MVG will be hoping for the same outcome here.
Stockport’s Nathan Aspinall has certainly kept up his superb form. The UK Open and US Masters champion has risen to a career ranking of 8 after his second successive run to the semi finals at Ally Pally. The 28 year old accountant will face former Masters winner James Wade, who despite not winning a major in 2019 won an impressive five pro tour titles on the floor.
Michael Smith suffered an early exit at Ally Pally this year, losing to Luke Woodhouse, but despite that he’s reached finals in the World Matchplay and last year’s World Championship, including semi final appearences at the Champions League and the European Championship but still a major title eludes him. The man from St Helens will face Austria’s Mensur Suljovic who was one of two people defeated by female star Fallon Sherrock in the World Championship. It’s a rematch of their clash two years ago where Smith won 10-8.
Rob Cross suffered a fall to fourth in the world after his loss to Kim Huybrechts in the second round of the world’s. But despite that 2019 was a massive improvement, winning big titles such as the World Matchplay and the European Championship, so his game is at the right place! The former world champion faces a two time world champion in Adrian Lewis. Lewis has shown signs of improvement, especially towards the business end of 2019, scoring some crucial results. Can Jackpot regather his form in 2020?
Peter Wright scored the biggest high of his career on New Year’s Day, becoming world champion for the first time ever after beating Michael van Gerwen 7-3 in probably the best win of his life. He had never beaten Van Gerwen in a major final but he did it at the best place ever. He rises to world number two and also became the oldest first time winner at 49 years old, which shows that it’s never too late for anything. Wright will play his first match as world champion against Bradford’s Joe Cullen, who won a Euro Tour event in 2019. Wright will certainly fancy his chances in Milton Keynes.
Daryl Gurney has had a mixed year in 2019, reaching the semi finals at the Premier League, World Matchplay and the European Championship. Gurney has never won a match at Milton Keynes and he faces Dave Chisnall in a repeat of last year’s first round clash, where Chisnall came from 6-2 behind to win 10-8. Chisnall has been in great form of late but will Gurney end his duck here?
Gary Anderson will be looking to put 2019 at the back of his head. The Scot had to withdraw from the event last year due to back injury which also led him to withdraw from the Premier League. Despite the setback his form has been steadily improved near the end of 2019. The two time world champion faces Stoke on Trent’s Ian White who recently broke his semi final duck at Minehead last November. Can Anderson begin 2020 on a high?
Gerwyn Price’s 2019 was a career best for him, winning three pro tour titles, finished runner up in two major finals and also retained his International Open and Grand Slam of Darts titles. The world number three reached the semi finals of the world championship this year which ended in disgraceful fashion against Peter Wright. Price’s comments and antics were once again panned by darts fans and once again shows that lessons still need to be learned. The Iceman will face Simon Whitlock in his first round tie, a player who he accused of ‘slowing him down’ during their fourth round clash at Ally Pally. Looks like Whitlock will be fetching Formula 1 darts for that game only.
The 2020 Ladbrokes Masters will take place on January 31 – February 2 and will once again be shown on ITV4 in the UK. Can Van Gerwen win a sixth straight Masters title or will he surprisingly lose for the first time and hand the trophy to the other competitors?