We continue the countdown to this weekend's Ladbrokes Masters as darts commentator Dan Dawson picks five players to perform at the first televised event of the year.

Michael van Gerwen

1. Michael van Gerwen

He has been knocked off his perch and now is the time for a response.

For half a decade, "Mighty Mike" went unbeaten at The Masters, but losing his first game to Jonny Clayton last year turned out to be an early indication of what 2020 would have in store for him.

No longer world number one, with only two televised titles to his name in the last 12 months, Van Gerwen has assured everyone that he will reclaim his rightful place at the top of the rankings.

While there is no ranking money on offer at The Masters, victory would be a signal of intent.

Gerwyn Price

2. Gerwyn Price

The Welshman completed his journey from a rugby player arriving at Q School to world number one and World Champion in just seven years, now the next chapter of his career begins.

As well as the Sid Waddell trophy, Price has already won the Grand Slam, Grand Prix and World Cup titles - The Masters would be a welcome addition, and would match Peter Wright's feat of winning the first two televised tournaments of last year.

The question is, can he still perform consistently at these high levels whilst being the leading figure in the sport?

Krzysztof Ratajski

3. Krzysztof Ratajski

The first Polish player ever to reach the quarter-finals at Alexandra Palace is finally starting to show his capabilities on the biggest stages of the PDC.

At one point he was the fourth-favourite to go on and win the world title, although Stephen Bunting ended his hopes.

This will be a debut at The Masters for "The Polish Eagle" and his route is not an easy one (starting with Simon Whitlock with Peter Wright to follow), but he is a player whose consistent excellence will be rewarded at some point in a major tournament.

Glen Durrant

4. Glen Durrant

The Premier League champion has been largely overlooked since winning his first televised title in the PDC, primarily because a bout of Covid saw him struggling to reach his usual brilliance.

There were signs of a return to form at the World Championship though, and if "Duzza" is back to normal, then you can expect him to win a lot of games in big tournaments in 2021.

If he can overcome Mervyn King (who is enjoying something of a renaissance himself) then Durrant could well be favourite to beat world number four Rob Cross in the second round.

It is a huge opportunity for the Teesider to remind everyone of his quality.

Ian White

5.  Ian White

I do not know what gods "The Diamond" has offended, or if he happens to live in a house built on a Native American burial ground, but for whatever reason it just does not happen for him at the World Championship.

For the second year running, White lost his opening game at Alexandra Palace with an average in excess of 100.  It shows he is not playing poorly, but that he is also not winning.

We have seen this story before with White, but we have also seen him get the job done on big stages - winning European Tours and reaching a major televised semi-final.

After years of being overlooked, and with a Premier League spot up for grabs, it would be incredible if he forced his way into the lineup.

I, for one, believe he would be a superb addition.

The Ladbrokes Masters will take place from January 29-31 at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes.

Worldwide coverage will be led by host broadcaster ITV4 in the UK and Ireland, as well as through RTL7 in the Netherlands and DAZN in various global territories, as well as through the PDC's global broadcasters, for PDCTV Rest of the World Subscribers and through matchroom.live.

2021 Ladbrokes Masters
Friday January 29 (1900 GMT)

First Round x8
Ian White v Mensur Suljovic
Glen Durrant v Mervyn King
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Chris Dobey
Krzysztof Ratajski v Simon Whitlock
Michael Smith v Adrian Lewis
Daryl Gurney v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Jose de Sousa v Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen v Stephen Bunting

Saturday January 30
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)

Second Round x4
Rob Cross v Durrant/King
James Wade v Van den Bergh/Dobey
Nathan Aspinall v White/Suljovic
Dave Chisnall v Gurney/De Zwaan

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Second Round x4
Gary Anderson v Smith/Lewis
Peter Wright v Ratajski/Whitlock
Gerwyn Price v Cullen/Bunting
Michael van Gerwen v De Sousa/Clayton

Sunday January 31
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)


Evening Session (1900 GMT)