MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his bid to win a fourth successive Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters title on Thursday against Peter Wright, as World Champion Gary Anderson prepares to face Raymond van Barneveld.
The first PDC World Series of Darts tournament of 2016 sees eight top stars lining up in the unique open-air setting of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Thursday May 26 and Friday May 27, with 750,000AED on offer in prize money.
World number one van Gerwen has never been defeated in the three previous years of the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters, winning all three events since 2013, and will start his challenge to claim a fourth successive title against Wright in a repeat of the 2014 final.
The Dutchman won his second Premier League title last Thursday at the Play-Offs in London, and has already won ten tournaments during 2016, and said: "I love it in Dubai and I'm really confident and playing well.
"Winning the Premier League helped that confidence but I've always done well here and I hope I can keep that successful run going in this tournament.
"I need to concentrate on my own performance, prepare really well and I hope I can do some good damage again - but it's not going to be easy because there are eight fantastic players here and you can't underestimate anyone.
"Peter's a fantastic player who's improved himself in the last few years, so I need to make sure I'm ready for the game."
Wright, who followed up his appearance in the final in Dubai by being the runner-up in the Japan Darts Masters last year, said: "It's a great tournament and I'm really looking forward to it.
"Obviously I've got a really hard draw against Michael, he's the man in form but when he gives me chances I've got to take them. It's going to be very difficult but I believe I can get on top of him."
World Champion Gary Anderson, who retained the sport's biggest title in London in January, will begin his tilt to claim a first World Series of Darts title against five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld.
Phil Taylor, the legendary 16-time World Champion, comes up against James Wade in a repeat of the 2015 Perth Darts Masters final, while Adrian Lewis - last year's Auckland Darts Masters champion and a two-time World Champion - has drawn Dave Chisnall, who previously competed in Dubai in 2014.
Following Thursday's quarter-finals, the tournament will conclude on Friday with the semi-finals and final.
Commenting on the continued support of the Darts Masters, George Horan, President of Dubai Duty Free said: "As title sponsors of the Darts Masters for the fourth year, we are very pleased that it has grown to become one of the most highly anticipated events in the Dubai calendar, providing a unique opportunity to see the world's top darts players in a highly competitive atmosphere at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
"The PDC and the event team have worked incredibly hard to bring this tournament to an even greater success and that the event is watched by an even wider local and global audience."
PDC Chief Executive Matthew Porter added: "We're delighted to be back where the World Series began back in 2013. The unique nature of this event, being outdoors, gives its own identity and the players love coming out here to put on a show.
"We're grateful for the support of our partners Dubai Duty Free, JW Marriott Marquis, Qantas, Sixt and the Irish Village, without whom this tournament would not be possible."
In addition to the prize money on offer in the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters, partners Sixt Rent a Car will donate an all-new Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 SUV to the first player who achieves a nine-darter in this year's event.
Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters are still available and can be purchased via www.dubai-darts.com.
The Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters will be screened live on Dubai Sports TV and OSN across the Middle East.
Coverage will also be screened on ITV4 in the UK (from 9pm BST on both days) and live worldwide through the PDC's series of broadcast partners, as well as via www.LIVEPDC.TV (outside of UK).
2016 Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters
Thursday May 26 (8pm local time)
Adrian Lewis (4) v Dave Chisnall
Phil Taylor (3) v James Wade
Gary Anderson (2) v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Peter Wright
Best of 19 legs
Friday May 27 (8pm local time)
van Gerwen/Wright v Lewis/Chisnall
Anderson/van Barneveld v Taylor/Wade
Best of 21 legs
Best of 21 legs
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