The weekend of 1-2 November 2014 sees the top 16 Darts players in the world take part in the Unibet Masters, Michael van Gerwen leading the sport’s elite into Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre for the second staging of the £160,000 tournament.
Phil Taylor was last year’s victor in the event’s initiation but the current form lies with world champion, van Gerwen, ‘Mighty Mike’ on a hot streak off the back of triumphs in both the World Grand Prix and European Championships in recent weeks.
The Dutch darting dynamo’s meteoric rise across the past two years has spurred him to the top of the world rankings heading into this weekend’s two days of action in Edinburgh, surpassing Taylor who was humbled by Lakeside champion Stephen Bunting in Germany most recently.
Van Gerwen lit up Mulheim last Sunday as he hit a nine-darter in his semi-final victory over fellow Dutchman and world champion, Raymond van Barneveld, avenging his Premier League final defeat in the process.
The clash will be staged once again in this Saturday’s opening day Masters action, MvG and Barney sixth on the eight-match bill of the knockout tournament’s opening day where favourite van Gerwen is a boosted 3/1 to win with Betfair, exclusive to newly-registered customers only.
Barneveld himself comes with a strong mentality and massive 25/1 odds with Ladbrokes to win the tournament outright however, more than capable should he tame his young compatriot.
That match takes place at 9pm, action starting as early as 12.45pm with four games in the morning and four in the evening on Saturday. Action begins with World Championship runner-up Peter Wright taking on the impressing Justin Pipe, Dave Chisnall then facing Scot Robert Thornton who hit a nine-dart finish in Dublin in a thrilling clash with James Wade in the World Grand Prix earlier this October.
40/1 tournament outsider Mervyn King shone in the European Championship and takes on 2012 European victor, Simon Whitlock, before double world champion Adrian Lewis faces Belgian rising star, Kim Huybrechts, Lewis a big threat at William Hill’s respectable 12/1 price.
The on-song Wade meanwhile is pitted against Brendan Dolan who makes it into the Unibet Masters, before Taylor makes his bid to defend the Masters crown against Wes Newton at 8pm.
The Power enters a profitable 3/1 for overall success with BetVictor, and the 16-time world champion will accept nothing but success this weekend while van Gerwen continues to steal the limelight.
Flying Scotsman Gary Anderson rounds off the night at 10pm against Andy Hamilton, both former world championship runner-ups and capable on their day of usurping any player in their path.
First round and quarter-final fixtures will be fought over 19 legs, semi-finals and the final on Sunday evening then decided over a best-of-21 to determine a Masters Darts champion. All matches across both days will be shown live on ITV4.