Dutch Darts Masters - Preview

The 2024 TOTO Dutch Darts Masters begins on Friday, as Michael van Gerwen and Vincent van der Voort lock horns, while reigning champion Dimitri Van den Bergh takes on Gerwyn Price.

The second staging of the World Series of Darts event will take place at De Maaspoort in Den Bosch from January 26-27, as the 16-player field compete for the Toon Greebe Trophy, which was unveiled at Thursday's launch event at Den Bosch Town Hall.

Friday's first round will pit the eight PDC superstars against the eight Benelux representatives, as defending champion Van den Bergh and Dutch icon Raymond van Barneveld also feature. However, Dutch number one Van Gerwen will take centre stage on a star-studded opening night, as he plays his close friend Van der Voort for a place in the quarter-finals.

"It's probably one of the closest venues you can get to my house, so I'm really looking forward to it," revealed Van Gerwen, a runner-up in last week's Bahrain Darts Masters. "It is always really special to play in front of your home crowd, and I'm feeling very confident. "I think the way I performed in Bahrain was quite impressive. I was disappointed with the way I played in the final, but that's how darts goes sometimes. "You have to learn from it, but I'm feeling good and I think the crowd can help me a lot, although you still have to perform yourself!"

Van den Bergh, meanwhile, will open his challenge against world number five Price, as he eyes back-to-back Dutch Darts Masters titles. The Belgian stormed to victory in the tournament's inaugural edition in 2022, and he hopes a similar result can provide the springboard for a successful season.

"It's just another day at the office," quipped Van den Bergh, who conceded seven legs on his way to victory in Amsterdam two years ago. "Me and Gezzy have played so often against each other. We've had so many great games, so I know what I need to do. "I'm not afraid of anybody, because I know what I am capable of, and I would love to lift the Toon Greebe Trophy this weekend. "It's a new year, it's a new Dimi, and I'm going to give it 100 per cent."

Top seed Luke Littler has been pitted against 2022 runner-up Dirk van Duijvenbode in another stand-out tie, as the teenage sensation sets his sights on back-to-back World Series crowns. The 17-year-old enjoyed a dream World Series debut in Bahrain last week, defeating Nathan Aspinall, Price and Van Gerwen to triumph, having also landed a nine-darter in his quarter-final tie against Aspinall.

"I had not picked a dart up since the World Championship final, so I wasn't expecting anything," admitted the World Youth Champion. "I was really happy to beat three great players in Nathan, Gezzy and Michael. It was amazing! "I believe in my own ability and that is what gets me over the line each time. "The standard is going to be good once again. It's going to be tough, but it should be a great weekend, and it would be a massive bonus to win another title."

Another blockbuster tie will see five-time World Champion Van Barneveld go head-to-head with 2018 World Champion Rob Cross, for the right to play Van Gerwen or Van der Voort in the last eight.

"Rob is an amazing player and an amazing guy," claimed Van Barneveld, making just his second appearance on home soil since returning to the sport in 2021. "Look at the way Rob fought back against Chris Dobey at the World Championship. You have never beaten him until you hit that last double. "I thought I played really well at the World Championship, but Luke [Littler] was like a formula one car against me! "I was struggling for many years with my darts, with my flights, but hopefully, with this set-up, this is it now. There is no doubt in my head anymore, and I really believe I'm going to do good things this year."

World Champion Luke Humphries saw his astonishing 20-match winning run come to an end in Bahrain last week, and the world number one will aim to return to winning ways when he meets Jermaine Wattimena. Elsewhere, 2023 World Champion Michael Smith will take on World Youth Championship finalist Gian van Veen, while former UK Open champions Aspinall and Danny Noppert renew their rivalry. The remaining first round tie will see two-time World Champion Peter Wright play World Series debutant Kevin Doets, with Price or Van den Bergh awaiting the winner.

Following Friday's first round, the 2024 Dutch Darts Masters concludes on Saturday with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in one bumper session.

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