Dobey aiming to build on breakthrough year ahead of Masters return

Chris Dobey (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Chris Dobey is hoping to build on a breakthrough 2023 season when he begins his defence of the Cazoo Masters on Friday evening in Milton Keynes.

Dobey will open his title challenge against UK Open champion Andrew Gilding at the Marshall Arena, as he bids to join Michael van Gerwen in becoming only the second player to win multiple Masters titles.

The 33-year-old defeated four televised title winners to triumph in last year’s showpiece, which subsequently earned him a place in the 2023 Premier League.

"The Masters is where I won my first TV title, so it's an event that holds great memories for me,” insisted Dobey, who overcame 2018 World Champion Rob Cross to clinch his maiden televised crown.

“My practice is going well after the World Championship, so I am confident I can keep my form going.

"It's going to be a tough game against Andrew. He’s a major winner and he has his own style as well, so I'm going to have to deal with that. 

"I know what I've got to do, so hopefully I can knuckle down and get the job done.”

Dobey will take on five-time Masters champion Van Gerwen in round two if he comes through his opener against Gilding, but it’s a prospect that holds no fear for the man nicknamed ‘Hollywood’.

The Bedlington thrower claimed a host of big-name scalps on his way to glory 12 months ago, seeing off reigning champion Joe Cullen and Michael Smith - the World Champion at the time.

Dobey also saw off current World Champion Luke Humphries and Dutch star Dirk van Duijvenbode en route to scooping the £65,000 top prize, and he’s confident of a repeat performance on his Milton Keynes return.

“I've done it once, so there's no reason why I can't go and do it again,” added Dobey, who has broken into the world's top 16 for the first time in his career.

“I beat the reigning champion Joe Cullen in round one, then Luke Humphries and Dirk [van Duijvenbode] who were in contention for the Premier League.

“Then I beat Michael Smith, who was World Champion and world number one, before beating Rob in the final.

“Winning the Masters gave me the belief that I could win the biggest titles, and I still think I have a lot more to give, so hopefully this year is where I make an even bigger breakthrough.”

Dobey reached four televised ranking quarter-finals throughout 2023, progressing to the last eight at the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix, European Championship and the World Darts Championship.

However, Dobey’s clash against Gilding will be his first competitive outing since his quarter-final defeat to Cross at Alexandra Palace, where he surrendered a four-set lead in a remarkable contest.

"It was a tough one to take, particularly with it being a World Championship quarter-final,” admitted Dobey, who boasted a tournament average of over 101.

“I believe I was a little bit unfortunate to lose in the way I did. I was very, very consistent throughout the competition, and I played better as the tournament progressed.

"I think if I had won that match I could have been in the World Series and the Premier League, but it was a case of fine margins.

"Now I'm in the top 16 I want to consolidate that position and keep pushing forward, so I will be looking to get into the top ten, the top eight, and put myself in the mix for the biggest tournaments.”

2024 Cazoo Masters
Schedule of Play
Friday February 2 (1900-2300 GMT)
8x First Round

Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ryan Searle
Jonny Clayton v Krzysztof Ratajski
Dave Chisnall v Martin Schindler
Damon Heta v Gabriel Clemens
Dimitri Van den Bergh v James Wade
Chris Dobey v Andrew Gilding
Joe Cullen v Josh Rock
Stephen Bunting v Ross Smith