There is no rest for the world’s greatest darts players as the top 16 players in the PDC rankings contest the 2015 Unibet Masters in Milton Keynes this weekend, live and free on ITV4.
Coming just a few weeks after the conclusion of an astonishing PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace, where Gary Anderson became king of the darting world after beating the great Phil Taylor in a thrilling final set decider, the sport’s finest will go face to face over two days at the newly-built Arena:MK, situated beside the home of League 1 side MK Dons.
The previous two years of the Masters, which made its debut on the PDC circuit in 2013, have been held in Edinburgh in early November, but the tournament switches to the other end of the calendar year and a new venue from 2015 onwards and is the first of five tournaments that will be broadcast by ITV Sport this year.
All the biggest names from PDC darts will be in attendance in Milton Keynes, including current world number one and 2014 world champion Michael van Gerwen, 16-time world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and last year’s Masters winner James Wade.
Interestingly, the draw for the first round games will feature a rerun of the 2014 final between Wade and Mervyn King, a nail-biting match in which ‘The King’ led 9-2 only to see ‘The Machine’ pull off a remarkable comeback to win 11-10 in a tense deciding leg.
Phil Taylor, currently ranked at number two in the world, meets ‘The Raging Bull’ Terry Jenkins, and following his recent success in the World Championship, Gary Anderson will take on Andy Hamilton, with the 44-year-old Scotsman having moved up to third place in the world rankings following his Ally Pally triumph.
Other top names to look out for include Adrian Lewis, the 2013 Masters runner-up and reigning UK Open champion, who is up against Ian White in an all-Stoke affair, while 2014 World Championship finalist Peter Wright taking on Brendan Dolan.
Australian ace Simon Whitlock, who was knocked out in the first round at Ally Pally, faces 2014 Premier League champion Raymond van Barneveld, with former UK Open champion Robert Thornton taking on 2014 Grand Slam of Darts finalist Dave Chisnall, all of which are among the tantalising first round matches for darts fans to enjoy over the weekend in Milton Keynes.
Commenting on the ITV-televised 2015 Masters, PDC chairman Barry Hearn said: “Following the amazing success of the World Championship, the confirmation of the draw for the Unibet Masters sets pulses racing for our next big TV tournament live on ITV4.
“Last year’s final between James Wade and Mervyn King was one of the most thrilling deciders we’ve ever had and it’s ironic that, due to their rankings, they’ll meet again in the first round.
“That’s just one of a host of tasty ties which will be played over the weekend in Milton Keynes, where tickets are already heading towards a sell-out! It promises to be a memorable tournament.
“The first two years of the event have seen some sensational darts and I’m sure that next year’s tournament will be equally competitive and exciting.
“Coming only weeks after the conclusion of the World Championship at Alexandra Palace, this will be an event not to be missed!”
Full details of when and where to watch all the darting action from Milton Keynes are listed below, while further information about the tournament can be found via pdc.tv.
ITV Sport will broadcast both days from the 2015 PDC Unibet Masters exclusively live from the ArenaMK in Milton Keynes on January 31-February 1.
Live coverage of all four sessions will be shown on ITV4 and in high-definition on ITV4 HD across the weekend, with each session of play introduced by Matt Smith alongside regular ITV pundits and former PDC professionals Chris Mason and Alan Warriner-Little.
Stuart Pyke and John Rawling lead the commentary team alongside Mason and Warriner-Little, while Ned Boulting conducts the pre and post-match interviews with the players.
ITV4’s live coverage starts on Saturday lunchtime at 12.45pm and continues through to Sunday, with the quarter finals taking place in the afternoon, followed by the semi-finals and final in the evening, when the third PDC Masters champion will be crowned.
Darts fans who are away from their TV sets can watch the whole tournament live online via ITV Player, available on the web and via the app on all major mobile devices.
The tournament is part of ITV Sport’s schedule of five PDC tournaments due to be shown on ITV4 in 2015, along with the UK Open in March, followed by three tournament in the autumn, including the new World Series of Darts competition.
Visit the official PDC website – pdc.tv – for more information, results and statistics about the tournament.
Saturday 31st January DAY 1: Afternoon Session – Round 1 LIVE: 12.45pm-5.00pm ITV4 Peter Wright 10-1 Brendan Dolan
Robert Thornton 5-10 Dave Chisnall
Adrian Lewis 10-4 Ian White
Simon Whitlock 7-10 Raymond van Barneveld DAY 1: Evening Session – Round 1 LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm ITV4 James Wade 10-3 Mervyn King
Phil Taylor 7-10 Terry Jenkins
Gary Anderson 10-2 Andy Hamilton
Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Wes Newton
Sunday 1st February DAY 2: Afternoon Session – Quarter Finals LIVE: 12.45pm-4.55pm ITV4 Peter Wright 8-10 Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen 10-9 Dave Chisnall
Terry Jenkins 3-10 Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade 5-10 Gary Anderson DAY 2: Evening Session – Semi Finals & Final LIVE: 7.00pm-11.00pm ITV4 Semi Finals Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson Final van Gerwen/Lewis v van Barneveld/Anderson