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Stuart Dalgleish 29th Nov 2012 - 17:17

Players Championship Finals Preview - Dave Allen

KEVIN PAINTER begins the defence of his Cash Converters Players Championship Finals title on Friday against Michael van Gerwen as the £250,000 event kicks off at the Butlins Minehead Resort in Somerset.

Painter lifted his maiden major title a year ago when he overcame Mark Webster 13-9 in the final, taking home the £60,000 first prize.

Painter will face Michael van Gerwen on Friday night on the opening day of this year's £250,000 tournament, which is being played for the first time over three days at the Butlins Minehead Resort.

The 45-year-old admits that he has one of the toughest tasks in taking on the sport's form player, but said: "I don't think I'm under any particular extra pressure because I won it last year.

"I've never been called 'Reigning Champion' before - those sort of things are usually reserved for Phil Taylor, Barney and the like - so it's nice to have that title and I'm really looking forward to this event.

"Michael's been playing really well recently and he's the man of the moment. He's playing some unbelievable darts and everything he does is working for him.

"He can't do anything wrong so I know it's going to be a tough game, but it's only the first to six legs and I've beaten him plenty of times before. I'll have to up my game but the stage is where I play my best darts."

The first round of the tournament, screened by ITV4, is being held across two sessions on Friday, with debutants Ian White and Michael Smith taking part in the afternoon session's opener.

Colin Lloyd then plays Peter Wright and Taunton's Justin Pipe faces Colin Osbone before Belgium's Kim Huybrechts - another debutant - meets Dutch ace Vincent van der Voort.

Robert Thornton, the 2009 runner-up to Phil Taylor, plays Mark Walsh, Terry Jenkins plays 2010 finalist Mervyn King and Ronnie Baxter then meets the 2010 champion Paul Nicholson, before Andy Smith and Andy Hamilton complete the afternoon session.

Number one seed Dave Chisnall, who topped the ProTour Order of Merit this year after winning five Players Championships, opens the evening session against Wayne Jones.

World number three James Wade then faces Brendan Dolan before World Champion Adrian Lewis takes on Richie Burnett - although Stoke star Lewis' preparations have been overshadowed by the expected arrival of his baby, with wife Sarah going into labour on Thursday afternoon.

Lewis had missed out on last year's Players Championship Finals and lost out in the Group Stage of the Grand Slam of Darts recently, but is determined to celebrate the impending birth with triumph at Minehead.

"I wasn't in this event last year so it's great to be back," said Lewis. "It's a tough event to win because it's five games in three days, but I'm looking forward to getting going against Richie in the first round.

"After the disappointment of the last six months it's important I do well in Minehead. It's been frustrating for me.

"Going into the Grand Slam my form was coming back well and then I think the short format did for me in Wolverhampton. I had a couple of missed doubles which cost me dearly in the end, but you've got to take it on the chin."

Painter's clash with van Gerwen will follow Lewis' clash with Burnett, before Grand Slam of Darts champion Raymond van Barneveld takes on Steve Beaton.

Phil Taylor, who won two of the first three stagings of the Players Championship Finals, then meets last year's runner-up Mark Webster in another tasty first round contest, before Wes Newton meets former finalist Gary Anderson and European Champion Simon Whitlock plays Jamie Caven.

The second round will be split across two sessions on Saturday before the quarter-finals are held on Sunday afternoon and the semi-finals and final take place on Sunday evening.

The tournament's move to the Butlins Minehead Resort has been warmly received by fans from across the UK, with more than 4,000 spectators set to attend the weekend in Somerset.

Cash Converters Players Championship Finals
Schedule of Play
Friday November 30
Afternoon Session
Play Commences 1pm
Live on ITV4 from 12.30pm-5.15pm
First Round
Ian White v Michael Smith
Colin Lloyd v Peter Wright
Justin Pipe v Colin Osborne
Kim Huybrechts v Vincent van der Voort
Robert Thornton v Mark Walsh
Terry Jenkins v Mervyn King
Ronnie Baxter v Paul Nicholson
Andy Hamilton v Andy Smith

Evening Session
Play Commences 7pm
Live on ITV4 from 6.45pm-11.30pm
First Round
Dave Chisnall v Wayne Jones
James Wade v Brendan Dolan
Adrian Lewis v Richie Burnett
Michael van Gerwen v Kevin Painter
Raymond van Barneveld v Steve Beaton
Phil Taylor v Mark Webster
Wes Newton v Gary Anderson
Simon Whitlock v Jamie Caven

Saturday December 1
Afternoon Session
Play Commences 1pm
Live on ITV4 from 12.30pm-5.15pm
Second Round
Pipe/Osborne v Wade/Dolan
Chisnall/Jones v Lloyd/Wright
White/M Smith v Huybrechts/van der Voort
Newton/Anderson v Thornton/Walsh
Evening Session
Play Commences 7pm
Live on ITV4 from 6.45pm-11.30pm

Second Round
van Gerwen/Painter v Hamilton/A Smith
Whitlock/Caven v Baxter/Nicholson
Taylor/Webster v Lewis/Burnett
van Barneveld/Beaton v Jenkins/King
Sunday December 2
Afternoon Session
Play Commences 1pm
Live on ITV4 from 12.30pm-5.15pm

Quarter-Finals
QF1: Chisnall/Jones/Lloyd/Wright v White/M Smith/Huybrechts/van der Voort
QF2: Pipe/Osborne/Wade/Dolan v van Barneveld/Beaton/Jenkins/King
QF3: Whitlock/Caven/Baxter/Nicholson v Newton/Anderson/Thornton/Walsh
QF4: Taylor/Webster/Lewis/Burnett v van Gerwen/Painter/Hamilton/A Smith
Evening Session
Play Commences 7pm
Live on ITV4 from 6.45pm-11.30pm

Semi-Finals
Winner of QF1 v Winner of QF2
Winner of QF3 v Winner of QF4

Followed by
Final
First Round Draw & Tournament Bracket
Dave Chisnall (1) v Wayne Jones (32)
Colin Lloyd (16) v Peter Wright (17)
Ian White (8) v Michael Smith (25)
Kim Huybrechts (9) v Vincent van der Voort (24)
Justin Pipe (5) v Colin Osborne (28)
James Wade (12) v Brendan Dolan (21)
Raymond van Barneveld (4) v Steve Beaton (29)
Terry Jenkins (13) v Mervyn King (20)
Simon Whitlock (2) v Jamie Caven (31)
Ronnie Baxter (15) v Paul Nicholson (18)
Wes Newton (7) v Gary Anderson (26)
Robert Thornton (10) v Mark Walsh (23)
Phil Taylor (6) v Mark Webster (27)
Adrian Lewis (11) v Richie Burnett (22)
Michael van Gerwen (3) v Kevin Painter (30)
Andy Hamilton (14) v Andy Smith (19)
Format
First Round Best of 11 legs
Second Round Best of 19 legs
Quarter-Finals Best of 19 legs
Semi-Finals Best of 21 legs
Final Best of 25 legs

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