THE expanded finals sees the field doubled in size as 64 players compete for £400,000 in prize money across six sessions, live on ITV4 in the UK.
Qualification is based on performances across the series of 20 Players Championship tournaments during 2016. It came to light over the weekend that Kyle Anderson has withdrawn from competing as he awaits the completion of his Visa renewal, Stoke's former World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton has come in as the 64th seed, meaning that he meets van Gerwen in round one.
Notable names such as Phil Taylor has not qualified for the event by virtue of not participating in any more than three of the twenty events throughout the year. In addition former three time world champion John Part and former major winner of this prestigious event Paul Nicholson will not compete.
The commentary over the weekend will be handled by the capable hands of Chris Mason, Alan Warriner-Little, Stuart Pyke and Ned Boulting.
2016 Cash Converters Players Championship Finals
Draw Bracket (courtesy of PDC.TV)
- Michael van Gerwen (1) v Andy Hamilton (64)
- Vincent van der Voort (32) v Andrew Gilding (33)
- Josh Payne (16) v Mark Walsh (49)
- Cristo Reyes (17) v Berry van Peer (48)
- Mensur Suljovic (8) v Raymond van Barneveld (57)
- Adrian Lewis (25) v Robert Thornton (40)
- Joe Cullen (9) v Steve Brown (56)
- Ronny Huybrechts (24) v Rowby-John Rodriguez (41)
- Gerwyn Price (5) v Dimitri Van den Bergh (60)
- Christian Kist (28) v Ricky Evans (37)
- Steve West (12) v Jan Dekker (53)
- Justin Pipe (21) v Andy Jenkins (44)
- Simon Whitlock (4) v Matthew Edgar (61)
- Darren Webster (29) v Jonny Clayton (36)
- Chris Dobey (13) v Mick McGowan (52)
- Alan Norris (20) v Michael Smith (45)
- Benito van de Pas (2) v Brendan Dolan (63)
- Joe Murnan (31) v Jermaine Wattimena (34)
- Kim Huybrechts (15) v Mickey Mansell (50)
- Daryl Gurney (18) v Ronnie Baxter (47)
- Peter Wright (7) v Jason Wilson (58)
- James Wade (26) v Mervyn King (39)
- Stephen Bunting (10) v Ron Meulenkamp (55)
- Gary Anderson (23) v John Henderson (42)
- Dave Chisnall (6) v Kevin Painter (59)
- Jamie Caven (27) v Jamie Lewis (38)
- James Wilson (11) v Vincent Kamphuis (54)
- Jelle Klaasen (22) v Simon Stevenson (43)
- Ian White (3) v Keegan Brown (62)
- Mark Webster (30) v Terry Jenkins (35)
- Steve Beaton (14) v Jeffrey de Graaf (51)
- Robbie Green (19) v Devon Petersen (46)
- First Round – Best of 11 legs
- Second Round – Best of 11 legs
- Third Round – Best of 19 legs
- Quarter-Finals – Best of 19 legs
- Semi-Finals – Best of 21 legs
- Final – Best of 21 legs
With the draw as wide open in places, not half or quarter looks easy to call, partially because of the best of 11 format for the opening two rounds. With in form Peter Wright seeded to play James Wade in the second round for example and possibly Gary Anderson in round three this could be a tricky call. Dave Chisnall will want to put a disappointing Grand Slam behind him, actually being one of the form guys going into it, but another form player Jelle Klassen could be a juicy round three game.
Looking at that quarter I would like to see either Steve Beaton and/or Terry Jenkins make some progress here although the format does not give much margin for error as mentioned.
Quarter two is by far the most wide open, with Simon Whitlock making a resurgence, as well as Steve West and Chris Dobey. Again, could be any ones to take.
What do the odds compilers say?
Early pricing saw MVG no bigger than 4/5, although Sportingbet have lengthened marginally out to 5/6 with a paltry 8/13 at Coral, showing that they do not fancy taking on the hot in form MVG in this event.
Gary Anderson is easy second favourite at 15/2 with European firm Bwin, and might have been longer had he not been in the bottom half of the draw. Wright is at 22/1 with Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall both 28/1. James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld are both 33/1 with the rest 40/1 or BIGGER with the longest price at 750/1, which is still too short for some realistically.
Looking at some of the first round matches, has Alan Norris at 11/10, although he choked at the Grand Slam and plays Michael Smith, who has had a 2016 to forget at 10/11. Rowby-John is even money to beat Ronny Huybrechts, at the same price, and think the young Austrian in my eyes has the slight edge, and had a 0-2 loss record against the veteran Huybrechts.
Mervyn King with the right set up is BIG at 11/4 to knockout Wade, who is not the best of starters, although with Wade's form King will need to be on top form in what should be a nail biter.
Andy Jenkins can show his mite against local Justin Pipe, who will not want to be leaving early, but whose form is against him and is not back-able at 8/15. Van der Voort should get by Gilding, who has had a quiet 2016 at 4/5, with the battle of the Jamie's facing off, with Caven evens versus Lewis, the Welsh maestro, who was impressive in last years event making the second round.
Chisnall who infamously entered the event as number one seed a few years back lost 6-0, and this time plays a veteran Kevin Painter who will be tactical in trying to beat the momentum of Chisnall. Terry Jenkins at evens should have too much for Mark Webster in my view but since backing this has eased to 19/20! Webster has made just one quarter final since March in the pro-tour compared to Terry Jenkins who has played more TV events this year and the prices should be the reverse in my view.
Caven is highly experienced and faces Jamie Lewis where both could use this game as a platform to make some progress at the event. With both players not having the best of 2016's both will keep this game tight and anticipate a 6-4 or 6-5 either way. At even money that will do nicely
- A Lewis/Thornton – over 9.5 legs 11/10 William Hill 0.5pt
- Pas/Gurney double – 21/20 William Hill 3pts
- Jenkins to beat Webster – 19/20 Unibet 1pt
- Caven/J Lewis – over 9.5 legs 1/1 Skybet 1pt