Dubai Darts Masters: the contenders
In the space of a decade, darts has exploded into one of the most popular TV sports in northern Europe. With sell-out arenas, a burgeoning Premier League and New Year World Championships, modern darts players are genuine superstars, able to attract back-page headlines and mega-bucks sponsorships.
The gravy train now rolls into Dubai once a year, with the Dubai Darts Masters a popular pre-summer tournament that pits best eight of the best players in the world. Here’s who you will be watching if you buy your ticket to the Dubai Tennis Stadium on May 28 and 29.
Trust us, these guys have got major skills.
Michael van Gerwen
Country: The Netherlands
Nickname: Mighty Mike, Green Machine
The young Dutchman is very much darts’ present and future. As prolific a scorer as he is deadly on doubles, van Gerwen is the sport’s poster boy. Whisper it quietly, but he could even go on to one day rival Taylor’s 16 world titles. Yes, he’s that good.
Nickname: The Flying Scotsman
Anderson finally shed his ‘nearly man’ tag – and his trouble with his doubles - to lift the World Championship earlier this year. Long regarded as the heaviest scorer in the game, Anderson will pepper the treble 20 all night long. If his eye is in on his doubles, not even van Gerwen will get a look in. It’s a big IF though.
Nickname: The Power
What is there left to say about the man who has won 16 world titles including eight-in-a-row between 1995-2002? Simply put: the greatest player the sport has ever seen. And at the age of 54, he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Raymond van Barneveld
One of the most popular players on tour, among players and fans alike, big ‘Barney’ is sure to have a big following in Dubai. If he’s in the mood, then he remains a match for anyone. However, he has been known to struggle in the heat and humidity of the open air arena.
Phil Taylor’s protégé is a two-time world champion and arguably the most naturally gifted of all the men headed for Dubai. However, having already reached the sport’s highest peak – twice – questions have been raised over Lewis’ hunger. Far too inconsistent for our liking, but always a danger.
Nickname: The Machine
One of the best players never to have won the sport’s greatest prize. Deserves enormous credit for battling back from his well-documented personal problems to return to dart’s top table. Won’t start as one of the favourites, but he isn’t called The Machine for nothing. Write him off at your peril.
Nickname: The Bullet
Having crossed the divide from the BDO (British Darts Organisation) after winning its equivalent of the world championship in 2013, Bunting has wasted little time in making his mark. Reached the Sydney Darts Masters final in his debut year where he eventually lost to Taylor. A maiden PDC title is only a matter of time.
Easily the most charismatic and colourful player on the circuit, Wright is famed as much for his distinctive hairstyle as he is his tungsten prowess. Beaten finalist last year, Wright will look to bite back in some style this time around. A true showman, he’ll be sure to whip the crowd into a frenzy.