The top 16 players in the PDC order of merit will compete at the Unibet Masters, staged at the Arena MK in Milton Keynes. The tournament will take place this coming weekend (30-31 January). It will be the fourth time that this event has taken place in the PDC. Previous winners Phil Taylor, James Wade, and Michael Van Gerwen, will all be there once again looking to lift the trophy for the second time in their careers. Newly crowned world champion Gary Anderson will be hoping to claim this title for the first time.
All 16 players will go into this competition believing that they have a chance of winning it. They are all capable of producing on the biggest stage. World number one Michael Van Gerwen will be determined to put his disappointment at the world championships behind him by lifting the masters trophy. He is still the man to beat. His consistency over recent times has been incredible.
World champion Gary Anderson will start as second favourite. If he plays like he did recently, on his way to winning his second world title, he will be difficult to beat. He is now second in the world rankings, and although this tournament doesn’t count towards the rankings, he will want to produce his best and show that he is on his way to being world number one.
Phil Taylor is going through a bad spell. Can he rediscover his best form, and win his first major title in over a year? I would never rule him out. At his best he is still the man to beat. Adrian Lewis will be full of confidence after reaching the world championship final. He has to start winning more major titles, he has the ability to win any competition he enters.
In With A Chance
Peter Wright has been tipped to win a major for a long time. Could this be his time? He needs to win one soon, or risk ending his career as the nearly man. The same can be said of Dave Chisnall. Chisnall is improving all the time, I expect him to win one of the majors, sooner rather than later.
If the real Raymond Van Barneveld turns up in Milton Keynes, he could go along way in this competition. He can beat anybody, as he proved recently by knocking Van Gerwen out of the world championships. James Wade is also a proven winner of major titles. He is the third most successful player in PDC history, so never rule him out.
Michael Smith is the most improved player over the last two seasons. He is now ranked number eight in the world. He will definitely win a major, possibly very soon. Jelle Klaasen is playing better than ever. Now back into the world’s top 16, he will be looking to continue his impressive form by contending for this title.
Robert Thornton has been struggling recently. A bad foot affected his form. If he can get over that, he could challenge for this title. He has proven he can win majors, recently winning the world grand prix. Kim Huybrechts is an incredible talent, but needs to be more consistent. He is a potential champion. If he turns up with his A game, he could cause a few upsets.
First Round Draw
Michael Van Gerwen (1) – Stephen Bunting (16)
Michael Smith (8) – Raymond Van Barneveld (9)
Phil Taylor (4) – Jelle Klaasen (13)
Peter Wright (5) – Ian White (12)
Gary Anderson (2) – Vincent Van Der Voort (15)
Robert Thornton (7) – Dave Chisnall (10)
Adrian Lewis (3) – Kim Huybrechts (14)
James Wade (6) – Terry Jenkins (11)
I think Michael Van Gerwen will bounce back from his disappointment at the world championships. He is the most consistent player right now. I expect him to at least reach the final. If Gary Anderson picks up from where he left at the worlds, he will also have a great chance of reaching the final. What a game that would be!
I have a feeling James Wade will reach the later stages of this competition. This is a tournament that he likes, having won it previously. We could see him in the semi final. Phil Taylor isn’t as consistent as he once was. He is still one of the very best when he is on form, and I think he has a good chance of lifting his first major in over a year.