Dobey’s Masters Defence Underway as Chizzy Shines

Red Dragon Darts


Chris Dobey began his defence of the Cazoo Masters with a comeback victory over Andrew Gilding on Friday, as Dave Chisnall produced the performance of the opening night in Milton Keynes.

Friday’s first round saw eight opening round ties take place at the Marshall Arena, as reigning champion Dobey defied a sluggish start to topple UK Open champion Gilding.

Gilding threatened to cause an upset after moving into a 3-2 lead, although Dobey responded with back-to-back 14-darters, reeling off the last four legs without reply to progress.

“It’s great to be back, and it’s always nice to get off to a winning start,” admitted Dobey, who will now face five-time Masters winner Michael van Gerwen in a blockbuster second round showdown.

“Andrew has his own style and you can’t knock him for that, but I struggled to find my own rhythm early on.

“Now I’m in the top 16 I want to push on. I want to push towards the top ten and top eight and win another couple of titles, and it would be great to start here this weekend.”

However, two-time runner-up Chisnall stole the headlines with a magical performance, crashing in a 109.26 average to complete a 6-1 demolition of Martin Schindler, who averaged 103 in defeat.

Chisnall opened the contest with five perfect darts, and that set the tone for an imperious display, with the St Helens star kicking off each of the last two legs with back-to-back 180s.

“I don’t think the scoreline reflected the game,” reflected Chisnall, who will play world number seven Danny Noppert in Saturday afternoon’s opener.

“Martin missed a few chances and let me in, and my doubles were really good tonight.

“Since the World Championship, I’ve been practising for three hours every day, and it’s starting to pay off now, so I’m happy.”

Damon Heta also posted a ton-topping average in his 6-2 victory over Gabriel Clemens, averaging 102 and pinning 75% of his attempts at double to move through to a clash against sixth seed Rob Cross.

Heta seized control against the German number one with a run of three straight legs midway through the match, before firing in an 11-darter to begin his 2024 season in style.

Elsewhere, Stephen Bunting will meet world number one Luke Humphries in a fascinating last 16 encounter tomorrow, after launching an improbable fightback to deny Ross Smith in the evening’s finale.

Former European Champion Smith conjured up a sublime 135 finish on the bull to establish a 5-2 buffer, only for Bunting to win the last four legs in 15, 13, 15 and 14 darts to complete the fightback.

“I had to dig very deep there,” said Bunting, who landed an inspired double-double 96 skin-saver in the closing stages.

“I know how dangerous Ross is. He’s a really good friend of mine and I feel really sorry for him there, but I’m really happy with the win.

“The crowd were unbelievable again when I walked on to the stage. I wanted to put a great performance in and thankfully I got over the line.”

Meanwhile, former champions Jonny Clayton and James Wade crashed out on an eventful opening night, succumbing to Krzysztof Ratajski and Dimitri Van den Bergh respectively.

Ratajski landed six of his eight attempts at double to complete a 6-3 success against Clayton, while Van den Bergh swept aside a below-par Wade to create a clash against Michael Smith.

However, 2022 champion Joe Cullen avoided the same fate, averaging 99.32 to win through a quick-fire tussle against Northern Ireland’s number one Josh Rock.

Trailing 4-3, Cullen levelled with a superb 12-darter, and a clinical 117 checkout in the penultimate leg catapulted him to an impressive 6-4 victory.

Earlier in the night, Dirk van Duijvenbode celebrated his first victory since November’s Grand Slam of Darts, after outlasting Ryan Searle in the opening match of the tournament.

The Dutchman converted five of his first six attempts at double – including a superb 121 on the bull in leg seven – before crashing in a brace of maximums to win through a dramatic last-leg shoot-out.

Saturday’s second round will take place across two sessions at the Marshall Arena, with 2020 champion Wright and last year’s runner-up Cross among the names in action.

World Champion Humphries will then headline Saturday evening’s action, with Van Gerwen, Smith and World Matchplay champion Aspinall also entering the fray.

The 2024 Cazoo Masters will be broadcast live on ITV in the UK, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).

2024 Cazoo Masters

Schedule of Play

Friday February 2
8x First Round
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 Ryan Searle
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Dave Chisnall 6-1 Martin Schindler
Damon Heta 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 James Wade
Chris Dobey 6-3 Andrew Gilding
Joe Cullen 6-4 Josh Rock
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Ross Smith

Saturday February 3
Afternoon Session (1245-1700 GMT)
4x Second Round
Danny Noppert v Dave Chisnall
Rob Cross v Damon Heta
Peter Wright v Krzysztof Ratajski
Daryl Gurney v Joe Cullen

Evening Session (1900-2300 GMT)
4x Second Round
Nathan Aspinall v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Luke Humphries v Stephen Bunting
Michael van Gerwen v Chris Dobey
Michael Smith v Dimitri Van den Bergh


Images: Taylor Lanning / PDC

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