2023 Cazoo Players Championship Finals preview

Michael van Gerwen (Kieran Cleeves/PDC)

The 2023 Cazoo Players Championship Finals begins on Friday, as reigning champion Michael van Gerwen kicks off his bid for a record-extending eighth title in the event at Butlin's Minehead Resort.

The £600,000 event - featuring the top 64 players on the Players Championship Order of Merit following the conclusion of the 30-event 2023 Players Championship season - will take place from November 24-26.

Play on the opening two days will be split across the Main Stage and Stage Two, with all players competing in Friday's first round, which will be held across an action-packed double session.

Van Gerwen landed a nine-darter to defeat Rob Cross in last year's decider, and he kicks off his title defence against former World Championship quarter-finalist Callan Rydz, a winner on the Players Championship circuit in September.

Dutch legend Van Gerwen - who scooped a seventh Premier League title and a fifth World Series of Darts Finals crown earlier this year - is eyeing a return to winning ways in Minehead, following an early exit at last week's Grand Slam of Darts.

"I feel relaxed, I feel comfortable, and I'm looking forward to it," insisted Van Gerwen, who is without a premier ranking title since his victory in this event 12 months ago.

"I could have done a lot better in the last few TV tournaments. You can only blame yourself, but you can't be at your best all the time.

"There is no point in looking back, because it's not going to bring you anything more or anything less, so I'm fully focused on a really important end to the season."

Newly crowned Grand Slam champion Luke Humphries will also headline Friday evening's Main Stage action, as he begins his bid for a third televised ranking title in the space of seven weeks with a tie against Martin Lukeman.

Humphries, also a winner at last month's World Grand Prix, produced a host of dominant displays to triumph in Wolverhampton, although he's refusing to get carried away ahead of his latest title tilt.

“I think when you get that first title over the line, everything else becomes a lot easier," insisted Humphries, a semi-finalist at this event last year.

“It gives you the confidence to go on and win more and more, and it’s no coincidence that in the last five years I’ve not won a major title, and now I’ve won two in the space of six weeks.

"Maybe I am the best player in the world at the moment, but it fluctuates so much because we’re in era now full of fantastic dart players.

“Next weekend I could be second or third best, if Gerwyn Price picks up a title, or Michael [van Gerwen] picks up a title!"

Price will be the top seed in this weekend's showpiece, having celebrated a quartet of Players Championship titles during a prolific ProTour campaign.

The 2021 World Champion has won six ranking titles in 2023 - more than any other player - and Wales' World Cup talisman will open his title challenge against Ricky Evans in another intriguing tie.

Scottish legend Gary Anderson - who defeated Price in last week's Grand Slam of Darts - is the number two seed, after marking his resurgence with a hat-trick of Players Championship successes in 2023.

The 2014 Players Championship Finals winner will take on his fellow veteran Steve Beaton in a stand-out first round encounter, as he looks to build upon his quarter-final showing at the Grand Slam of Darts.

"The young kids are coming through now, but us older boys are still going," quipped Anderson, one of only three former champions in the 64-player field.

"Between me and Steve there's about 300 years of experience on that stage, but Steve still has that classy throw, and is still a very good dart player!

"I'm back playing and I'm enjoying the game again. In practice everything is over 105 [average]. I'm still a bit inconsistent on stage, but it's getting there!"

World Champion Michael Smith will also feature on a star-studded night of Main Stage action when he meets Richard Veenstra, while Masters champion Chris Dobey plays five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld in another high-profile clash.

Earlier in the day, 2022 runner-up Rob Cross - a Grand Slam of Darts finalist on Sunday - will take centre stage against the enigmatic Cameron Menzies for a place in round two.

Cross has enjoyed a terrific 2023 season, winning a brace of World Series events, a maiden European Tour crown and a Players Championship title, and he's confident there is further silverware around the corner.

"I'm playing great at the minute, and we go again," declared the 2018 World Champion, who has reclaimed a place in the world's top eight following his Grand Slam exploits.

"I am in a really good place at the moment. My mentality is very clear and if that carries on, then I will get better, no doubt. 

"I have gained a lot of confidence from the Grand Slam, so I'm going to get my head down and keep moving forwards. We have two more titles to play for [this year], and I believe I will lift one of them."

2021 runner-up Ryan Searle will also headline Friday afternoon's Main Stage action when he faces Croatia's Boris Krcmar, while former European Champion Ross Smith locks horns with Scott Williams in the tournament's curtain-raiser.

Third seed Damon Heta takes on American number one Jules van Dongen for a place in the second round, with a resurgent James Wade and 2022 World Youth Champion Josh Rock also set to star.

The Stage Two action in Reds - which will be streamed worldwide through PDCTV - will see the likes of 2018 champion Daryl Gurney and 2017 runner-up Jonny Clayton in first round action.

UK Open champion Andrew Gilding will make his Minehead return in the evening session, with former finalists Dave Chisnall and Kim Huybrechts up against Lee Evans and Martin Schindler respectively.

Friday's first round winners will progress to compete in potentially two further games on Saturday, with the second round in the afternoon session taking place ahead of the evening's third round.

The tournament then concludes on Sunday November 26, with the afternoon's quarter-finals followed by the semi-finals and final later in the evening.

The evening session will also see the PDC Winmau World Youth Championship final take place, as emerging Dutchman Gian van Veen takes on teenage sensation Luke Littler for the coveted title.

The 2023 Cazoo Players Championship Finals will be broadcast live on ITV3 & ITV4 in the UK, and through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay.

Coverage will also be broadcast on PDCTV (excluding subscribers in the UK, Germany, Austria and Switzerland), while action from Stage Two will be broadcast worldwide on PDCTV on Friday and Saturday.

2023 Cazoo Players Championship Finals
Draw Bracket

(1) Gerwyn Price v (64) Ricky Evans
(32) Kim Huybrechts v (33) Martin Schindler
(16) Stephen Bunting v (49) Mickey Mansell
(17) Gian van Veen v (48) Chris Landman
(8) Ross Smith v (57) Scott Williams
(25) Callan Rydz v (40) Michael van Gerwen
(65) Dylan Slevin v (56) Matt Campbell *
(24) Mike De Decker v (41) Mario Vandenbogaerde
(4) Dave Chisnall v (61) Lee Evans
(29) Chris Dobey v (36) Raymond van Barneveld
(13) Rob Cross v (52) Cameron Menzies
(20) Luke Woodhouse v (45) Simon Whitlock
(5) Josh Rock v (60) Rowby-John Rodriguez
(28) Gabriel Clemens v (37) Connor Scutt
(12) Jonny Clayton v (53) Stephen Burton
(21) Daryl Gurney v (44) Niels Zonneveld
(2) Gary Anderson v (63) Steve Beaton
(31) Dimitri Van den Bergh v (34) Jim Williams
(15) James Wade v (50) William O'Connor
(18) Andrew Gilding v (47) Steve Lennon
(7) Luke Humphries v (58) Martin Lukeman
(26) Radek Szaganski v (39) Ian White
(10) Ryan Searle v (55) Boris Krcmar
(23) Ricardo Pietreczko v (42) Christian Kist
(3) Damon Heta v (62) Jules van Dongen
(30) Jose de Sousa v (35) Kevin Doets
(14) Krzysztof Ratajski v (51) Maik Kuivenhoven
(19) Brendan Dolan v (46) Ritchie Edhouse
(6) Dirk van Duijvenbode v (59) Jermaine Wattimena
(27) Michael Smith v (38) Richard Veenstra
(11) Ryan Joyce v (54) Daniel Klose
(22) Joe Cullen v (43) Jamie Hughes
* (9) Danny Noppert has withdrawn, and is replaced by the next non-qualified player from the Players Championship Order of Merit, Dylan Slevin.

Session Schedule
Friday November 24
First Round
Afternoon Session (1245-1700 GMT)
Main Stage

Ross Smith v Scott Williams
Ryan Searle v Boris Krcmar
Damon Heta v Jules van Dongen
Gian van Veen v Chris Landman
Rob Cross v Cameron Menzies
Josh Rock v Rowby-John Rodriguez
James Wade v William O'Connor

Gian van Veen v Luke Littler – Best of 11 legs

First Round - Best of 11 legs
Second Round - Best of 11 legs
Third Round - Best of 19 legs
Quarter-Finals - Best of 19 legs
Semi-Finals - Best of 21 legs
Final - Best of 21 legs

Prize Fund
Winner £120,000
Runner-Up £60,000
Semi-Finalists £30,000
Quarter-Finalists £20,000
Third Round Losers £10,000
Second Round Losers £6,500
First Round Losers £3,000
Total £600,000