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Darts: Players Championship 29 and 30 preview

The Players Championship events for this season wrap up in Barnsley this weekend, with tournaments 29 and 30 concluding the series before the Finals later this month.

The Finals field is decided by the top 64-ranked players on the PDC Players Championship Order of Merit.

At the moment Australian Damon Heta tops the rankings with Luke Humphries and Dirk van Duijvenbode in second and third respectively.

Closer to the cut-off, Martijn Kleermaker is currently in 64th place with Mickey Mansell and Nathan Rafferty respectively in the two spots ahead of him.

A big performance at these events will be needed for players to secure their place at the major.

Similarly, players on the outside looking in could book a spot for the event in Minehead with a strong run at Players Championships 29 and 30, meaning this will be a weekend of high stakes action.

Andy Boulton, Ian White and John Henderson are all within £2,500 of qualifying for the Players Championship Finals so an impressive showing across the two days could fire them into contention.

WhatPlayers Championship 29 and 30
WhereBarnsley Metrodome
WhenFriday 4th November - Saturday 5th November
How to watchPDCTV
OddsPlayers Championship 29 - Gerwyn Price 6/1, Peter Wright 13/2, Jonny Clayton 11/1, Michael Smith 12/1

Grand Slam qualifiers a distraction?

Directly following the two Players Championship events of the weekend, there will be the final qualifiers for players to book a spot at the Grand Slam of Darts, which begins in Wolverhampton on November 12th.

Former Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa, as well as Dimitri van den Bergh and James Wade, are in action in these qualifiers, which could prove to be a distraction for the Players Championships in the days before.

In fact, Gary Anderson has withdrawn from the Grand Slam qualifiers, but intends to play the Players Championship events.

Smudger looking to follow up shock success

Ross Smith shocked the darts world by winning the European Championship last weekend, beating Michael Smith 11-8 to pick up his first ever televised title win and just his second ever PDC Tour victory.

For his opponent Bully Boy it was a familiar story, losing in a major final. This was the 32-year-old’s eighth PDC major final; he has lost all eight.

Both Smiths will be looking to continue the form that led them to the final in Dortmund back with them in Barnsley as they target the prestigious end of year events in the darting calendar.

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Big two aiming for victory

Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright are, along with Michael van Gerwen, considered the big three in darts as the trio have wrestled the world number one title between each other over the last few years.

With Van Gerwen not entering this weekend’s action, it could represent a good chance for either Wright or Price to land themselves in the winner’s circle.

Despite their position as two of the top three, neither man has won a Players Championship event since the seventh in March of this year, where the Iceman overcame Madars Razma 8-4.

Wright has only won one of this year’s Players Championship events too, an 8-5 victory over Price in the second tournament back in February.

Top of Order of Merit remain in good form

Players at the top of this year’s Pro Tour Order of Merit remain in good form and should not be underestimated in Barnsley this weekend.

Van Duijvenbode reached the final of Players Championship 26 and was in fine form in Dortmund at the weekend, averaging 104 in a 10-3 win over compatriot Danny Noppert, before falling just short in the semi-final against Michael Smith.

The Dutchman is a 16/1 chance at this weekend’s Players Championship and that could underestimate his chances of a deep run given his current strong form.

Another player who is near the top of the Pro Tour Order of Merit and looked in good shape in Germany is Luke Humphries. Cool Hand went well for much of his clash with Michael Smith before falling late to lose 10-7.

He has also reached two of the last five Players Championship finals and could be worth supporting at 14/1 for another good showing.

At a bigger price, Anderson has started his annual rich vein of form in the lead-up to the World Championships and if he shows anything like his top gear, the 50/1 about him being victorious in Barnsley could look very big.

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