Player Championships Finals Preview - Debutant Van Veen faces European Champion
Another darting year comes to an end after all the Players Championship Events throughout 2022 concluded earlier this month. The draw for the Players Championship Finals has been confirmed and due to reigning World Champion Peter Wright’s withdrawal, Gian van Veen who doesn’t own a tour card qualifies for the event in Minehead.
The youngster who recently signed a new deal with Red Dragon faces a difficult debut against European Championship winner Ross Smith, who impressed at the Grand Slam of Darts.
The Dutchman qualifies after strong performances at the Players Championship events, in particular Event 29 where he went all the way to the Final, losing to World Number 1 Gerwyn Price 8-4 in the Final.
The Iceman qualifies and will make a return to Butlin’s Minehead Resort and will face former World Championship Quarter Finalist Ryan Joyce in the First Round. The Welshman reached the Quarter Finals of the Grand Slam, losing out to a fantastic performance by Raymond van Barneveld who certainly rolled back the years.
Price has enjoyed a strong year in the Players Championship winning Event 7 at the end of March beating Madars Razma 8-4 in the Final. The Markham man produced a magical comeback against Rob Cross in the Semi Finals, surviving match darts to claim a 7-6 victory despite Voltage averaging higher in the game.
World Number 5 Luke Humphries faces an opening match against Nathan Rafferty in the First Round, a difficult tie with the young Northern Irishman Number 1 in the Development Tour Order of Merit.
Cool Hand moved his way to number five on the PDC Order of Merit after continuing what has been a fantastic year winning four Euro Tour titles. The Englishman reached the Semi Finals of the Grand Slam of Darts, including another win over Matchplay Champion Michael van Gerwen, winning 16-10 at Aldersley Leisure Village.
2021 Premier League champion Jonny Clayton faces Irishman John O’Shea on Stage 2 in the First Round, with the Ferret looking for a good performance before the upcoming World Championships at Ally Pally.
The Red Dragon star has only won the New South Wales Darts Masters this year with no wins in any of the television major tournaments. The Players Championships Finals are usually a good indication of who could win the World’s, with Peter Wright winning in Minehead before going on to claim his second World title twelve months ago.
The Pontyberem man is due a good run in a major tournament, with a fantastic display earlier on in his defence of the Premier League trophy, finishing top of the league for the first time in his darting career winning four nights. His best run came back in 2017 where he lost to Michael van Gerwen in the Final. Could Clayton go all the way in 2022?
Jamie Hughes faces former World Champion Stephen Bunting in the First Round appearing on stage 2 on Saturday, showing signs of the ability he possesses over the course of the 30 Pro Tour Events.
Players Championship 19 saw a fantastic performance from Yozza, averaging 108 in beating Brian Raman 6-3 in the Last 16. Hughes lost in the Quarter Finals to fellow Red Dragon star Luke Humphries despite again averaging over a ton over the nine legs played.
The Players Championship Finals are live on ITV Sport Friday, with the First-Round action set to commence over two stages at Butlin’s Minehead Resort.
By Harry Masterson
Players Championships Finals 2022 Order of Play
Rob Cross v Kevin Doets
Joe Cullen v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Damon Heta v Ricardo Pietreczko
James Wade v Mensur Suljovic
Josh Rock v Cameron Menzies
Gian van Veen v Ross Smith
Nathan Aspinall v Martijn Kleermaker
Dimitri van den Bergh v Martin Lukeman
Danny Noppert v Simon Whitlock
Michael Smith v Ritchie Edhouse
Gerwyn Price v Ryan Joyce
Kim Huybrechts v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Ryan Meikle
Luke Humphries v Nathan Rafferty
Andrew Gilding v Ricky Evans
Callan Rydz v Madars Razma
Daryl Gurney v Keegan Brown
Scott Williams v Alan Soutar
Brendan Dolan v Jermaine Wattimena
Jim Williams v Mike de Decker
Krzysztof Ratajski v William O’Connor
Adrian Lewis v Keane Barry
Jose de Sousa v Danny Jansen
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Micky Mansell
Ryan Searle v Mervyn King
Stephen Bunting v Jamie Hughes
Chris Dobey v Geert Nentjes
Martin Schindler v Vincent van der Voort
Jonny Clayton v John O’Shea
Matt Campbell v Steve Beaton
Gabriel Clemens v Gary Anderson
Dave Chisnall v Niels Zonneveld