Kiwi Darts Fans Prepare for the World Series of Darts’ Return
A line-up of superstar players is now confirmed and in less than a month Kiwi darts fans will again be making the pilgrimage to Hamilton for the New Zealand leg of the World Series of Darts – the TAB New Zealand Darts Masters, at Claudelands’ GLOBOX Arena in Hamilton on August 26-27.
Far from its roots as a pub sport for amateurs, the modern darts tournament has captured the imagination of millions, renowned for its high energy, festival atmosphere, with costumed, chanting fans and global television audiences.
Now, after a COVID-induced pause, the World Series returns with all the colour and excitement that has made it a unique sporting experience on a global scale in a $29 million ($NZ) professional tour.
Professional Darts Corporation chief executive Matthew Porter says that the players can’t wait to get back to Australia and New Zealand for the first time since 2019, with the World Series having already visited New York, Copenhagen and Amsterdam this year.
“With live events getting back to normal around the world, we’ve been excited to see our fans returning to our championships in their thousands,” said Porter.
“Kiwi fans are some of the most passionate outside of Europe, and we know the top players love playing for New Zealand audiences. We had a tremendous reception when we were last in Hamilton in 2019. We’re expecting a sold-out event with fans from throughout the country coming to Hamilton, and they’ll be seeing two brilliant nights of top-class darts.”
The list of players for 2022 is impressive. Headlining the eight-player PDC line-up for Hamilton are three-time World Champion Michael van Gerwen and current world number one Gerwyn Price.
Premier League top performers Michael Smith, James Wade, Jonny Clayton and Joe Cullen will also make the trip Down Under, alongside history-making women’s star Fallon Sherrock.
Reigning World Champion Peter Wright was keen to attend but has withdrawn from the World Series tournaments to undergo further medical treatment for an ongoing gallstones problem.
"I'm devastated to have to miss the visits to Australia and New Zealand but after further medical checks I have to put my health first," said Wright.
"I was really looking forward to finally getting to Australia and New Zealand and being introduced Down Under as the reigning World Champion in front of all the great fans there.
"I'll be doing everything I can to retain the World Championship and be back there next year instead!"
Wright will be replaced amongst the eight PDC representatives in the 16-player events by Belgian star Van den Bergh, who won the Nordic Darts Masters and Dutch Darts Masters events in June to claim his first two World Series of Darts titles.
The PDC’s World Series of Darts first visited New Zealand in 2015, with Van Gerwen being the NZ Darts Masters’ reigning champion – and the Dutchman returns Down Under having won the Premier League and World Matchplay this year, despite also needing a wrist operation in June.
Local fans also can’t wait to see Fallon Sherrock in action in New Zealand for the first time; Sherrock smashed the glass ceiling for female players by being the first to win a match in the PDC’s World Championship, before repeating that feat many times in the past three years, while she recently won the inaugural Women’s World Matchplay event.
Lining up against the eight PDC ranked players are eight of our region’s best. Kiwis Bernie Smith and Kayden Milne and Australia’s Mal Cuming recently sealed their spots after coming through the Oceanic qualifiers. They will join Australia’s World Cup of Darts winners Damon Heta and Simon Whitlock in Hamilton, with PDC Tour Card holder Gordon Mathers also set to feature as one of the eight regional representatives.
That leaves two places in the line-up for top ranked Kiwis, with New Zealand’s World Cup of Darts pairing Ben Robb and Warren Parry in pole position to claim the final two spots, as they lead the DPNZ Order of Merit with two ProTour events remaining on August 6-7 – although Kiwi star Haupai Puha is amongst those intent on snatching a qualifying place.
General Manager, Venues, Tourism and Major Events at Hamilton City Council, Sean Murray says the scene is set for a great championship and a great spectacle.
"We're excited to have this globally-televised tournament returning to Hamilton," said Murray.
“We were impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the fans who came from throughout the country to be part of the event in 2019. We can’t wait to welcome local and visiting darts fans back to GLOBOX Arena, Claudelands for another unforgettable two days of quality entertainment and fierce competition.”
The two-day format this year sees the action begin on Friday August 26 as the PDC stars line up against the Oceanic representatives in round one.
The second day on Saturday August 27 sees the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final held as the destiny of the title is discovered.
Because of the flexibility of the GLOBOX Arena, Claudelands a family zone is available, and all bookings in this area must include at least one under-18.
Tickets are in hot demand, but there are still some tickets available on both nights.
For more information, see https://claudelands.co.nz/events/all-events/event/nz-darts-masters-2022
TAB New Zealand Darts Masters
Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price, Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith, James Wade, Jonny Clayton, Joe Cullen, Fallon Sherrock
Damon Heta, Simon Whitlock, Gordon Mathers, Bernie Smith, Kayden Milne, Mal Cuming + top two non-qualified players from DPNZ Order of Merit following events in Christchurch on August 6-7