Well, here we are. The Masters is a tournament that has made a name for propelling the winner forward over the next 12 Months – with Jonny Clayton winning the Premier League and Grand Prix on the back of his Masters win, and last years title winner Joe Cullen coming within a dart of also lifting the Premier League Title. The Premier League and The Masters seem to work in tandem for success, and Gary will be looking set up a successful 2023 as he travels to Milton Keynes this week.
Last year’s Cazoo Masters wasn’t a tournament to go down in Gary folklore, as, entering the tournament in the Second Round, he was heavily defeated by eventual winner Joe Cullen 1-10. That said, Cullen did average in excess of a ton whilst Gary averaged in the low 90s.
This year, Gary enters in Round One due to his drop in the rankings since last year, and faces the challenge Belgium Number One, Dimitri Van den Bergh. The Dreammaker has enjoyed a busy start to 2023, featuring in both World Series of Darts events in January, in Bahrain and Copenhagen, suffering defeat in the Quarter Final stage of both, but he did produce a notable average of 101.95 in his opening round victory in Copenhagen against Madars Razma, and 101 again in defeat to Gerwyn Price.
The most notable meeting of the two in the past was the 2020 Betfred World Matchplay Final, when the Belgian won his maiden PDC major, winning the final 18-10 behind closed doors. They also met in the Nordic Darts Masters Final last year, with Dimitri again coming out on top 11-5, which I remember most notably for Gary getting into the game a bit too late, and taking out 186 in Four Darts, courtesy of a 180-D6 combination. That said, at their last meeting, at Players Championship 30, Gary got a 6-4 victory over the Belgian, so he’ll be looking to make it a winning streak over the World Number 11.
Coverage of the Cazoo Masters begins at 7pm this Friday on ITV4 for UK viewers and the game will be available for viewing with PDC Partners around the world, with Gary taking part in the fifth match of the Evening.
Send your good luck messages to the Tartan Titan as he prepares to do battle with the Antwerp dartsmith in the roundabout capital of England.
Ryan Segal @theryansegal