Japan Darts Masters: World’s top stars battle local heroes


In what will be the last televised (in UK) PDC darts tournament before this summer’s main singles event the World Matchplay in Blackpool, the sport’s top players take their place on the Japan Masters oche.

This will be the eighth competition since the inception of the World Series of Darts tour that started in 2013, and the second of the year.

It will the first time held in Japan, meanwhile, so it will give eight home talents the chance to battle it out with the best in the business in Yokohama.

Star Japanese duo Haruki Muramatsu and Morihiro Hashimoto, who reached the second round of the World Cup of Darts last month, before going out to England will be their nation’s main hopes of progression. Although their respective title odds of 200/1 and 250/1 with Coral suggest they won’t go very far.

In the first round, which will take place on Saturday in best of 11 legs fixtures, two-time World Championship qualifier Hashimoto, nicknamed The Ogre, goes up first against former Premier League winner James Wade (18/1 tournament shout).

Four-time World Championship qualifier Muramatsu, meanwhile, is up against World Cup runner-up with Scotland Peter Wright (also 18/1), who also reached the final of the 2014 Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters.

Of the seven World Series of Darts tournaments to date, only all-time great Phil Taylor and world number one Michael van Gerwen have won the events, but The Power is seemingly up against it to equal Mighty Mike’s four titles.

World Cup champion Taylor (10/3 second-favourite) has arguably the toughest half of the draw, as he’ll likely to face old foe Raymond van Barneveld and then Premier League and world champion Gary Anderson. That’s if he gets through his first test against little-known qualifier Masumi Chino.

Barney (14/1) takes on Katsuya Aiba first up, while The Flying Scotsman (7/2) duels with Yuki Yamada.

In the top half of the draw, Van Gerwen (6/4 favourite), after his opener against Chikara Fujimori, could face Sydney Darts Masters runner-up Stephen Bunting, and then one of Adrian Lewis or Wright.

Jackpot Lewis (8/1), who recently collected his third World Cup title with Taylor, battles Sho Katsumi up first and The Bullet (25/1) is against Shintaro Inoue.

The winners of the first round then go straight to the quarters on Sunday, before playing in the semis and final on the same day.

Round one draw:
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Chikara Fujimori
Stephen Bunting (8) v Shintaro Inoue
Adrian Lewis (4) v Sho Katsumi
Peter Wright (5) v Haruki Muramatsu

Phil Taylor (2) v Masumi Chino
Raymond van Barneveld (7) v Katsuya Aiba
Gary Anderson (3) v Yuki Yamada
James Wade (6) v Morihiro Hashimoto

Coral’s betting tip – Although only Van Gerwen and Taylor have won World Series of Darts events, back trophy collector Anderson to break that run @ 7/2

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