Cazoo masters 2024
The Masters 2024
The 2024 Cazoo Masters was the twelfth staging of the PDC’s Masters tournament and it’s tenth staging in Milton Keynes since it was moved from Edinburgh in 2015. The event saw the 24 highest ranked players in the world compete with the exception of Gerwyn Price who withdrew prior to the event and was replaced by Daryl Gurney.
This year saw Martin Schindler, Andrew Gilding and Josh Rock make their debuts in the event.
The opening round saw the sixteen non-seeded players attempt to book their spots in the next round where they would join the eight players who automatically qualified for the next round based on their ranking.
The biggest shock in this round saw the ninth highest ranked player in the world Jonny Clayton loose out to the second lowest ranked player in the event Krzysztof Ratajski he won the match 6-3 seeing off the only Welshman in the tournament convincingly.
That was the only game in the opening round where the lower ranked player prevailed across the rest of the opening round there were victories for Stephen Bunting, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Joe Cullen, Chris Dobey, Dave Chisnall, Dimitri van den Bergh and Damon Heta.
The second round saw the first matches for the eight highest ranked players in the world as well as Daryl Gurney who was a last-minute replacement for Gerwyn Price.
This round went on to provide far more shocks than the opening round with four of the eight players who entered at this stage also exiting the tournament in this round.
The most notable to start was the new world champion and world number one Luke Humphries who lost out to the 2014 Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting 10-3. Humphries wasn’t the only big name to fall victim of their opening round however, Danny Noppert lost out to Dave Chisnall in a close match.
To follow this the defending Masters champion Michael Smith also faced defeat in his opening game as he lost 10-6 to Dimitri van den Bergh and the final shock of the round came when Rob Cross lost out 10-8 to Damon Heta.
Daryl Gurney who was the lowest rated player in the tournament only coming in as a late replacement did also see off Joe Cullen 10-8.
The other games in this round went as many would have expected with Peter Wright regaining some momentum after a poor start to his Premier League campaign. There were also victories for Nathan Aspinall and Michael van Gerwen.
Stephen Bunting 10 – 2 Peter Wright
To start the quarterfinals, we had Stephen Bunting taking on two-time world champion Peter Wright and this game ended in a conclusive result for Bunting, he averaged seventeen points higher than his opponent with an average of nearly 101 points and hitting three maximums on his way to a decisive victory. Peter Wright missed nine doubles throughout the game with his highest finish being just 28 on his way to being wiped aside by Bunting.
Nathan Aspinall 10 – 9 Daryl Gurney
The second game of the session proved to be a much tighter affair as Nathan Aspinall took on Daryl Gurney in a closely fought tie. Throughout the game the pair managed to hit nine maximums between them.
Aspinall got the first advantage in the game breaking in the fourth leg before holding to lead the game by a comfortable 4-1. Back-to-back holds left the game standing at 5-2 in Aspinall’s favour, it took until the eleventh leg for Gurney to break back and the game stood at 6-5 still in the Englishman’s favour and after a spew of missed doubles from Aspinall, Gurney tied the game at 6-6.
Daryl Gurney followed this up with his second break in the game and for the first time he found himself leading the match at 7-6 and a hold saw him lead 8-6. However, Aspinall fought back and found a break of his own eventually bringing the match back to a tie at 8-8, the players then held throw until Aspinall won the match with a 17 darter to win 10-9.
Michael van Gerwen 10 – 4 Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen averaged over 102 in sweeping aside Dave Chisnall, despite only winning four legs in the game Chisnall did manage an impressive 8 maximums and made Michael fight all the way for his victory, but van Gerwen proved to be too strong an opponent and after hitting 62.5% of doubles he comfortably booked his spot in the semi-finals.
Dimitri van den Bergh 10 – 7 Damon Heta
In the last of the quarterfinals, Dimitri van den Bergh triumphed over Damon Heta with both players playing well below their best, despite that they did still muster up eight maximums between them and on his way to losing Damon Heta did manage to take out a 143 finish.
The story of this game turned out to be the doubling with Dimitri missing 26 darts at a double while Heta missed 19 darts a double. In the end Damon Heta’s missed proved to be more costly and it allowed the Belgian to take the match after Heta missed a dart at double eighteen for a 156 finish in what turned out to be the final leg.
Stephen Bunting 11 – 1 Nathan Aspinall
The first semi final saw the two Englishman Stephen Bunting and Nathan Aspinall collide and it ended in an emphatic win for Stephen Bunting with Aspinall managing to win only one leg and being allowed on six darts at a double in the whole match.
Aspinall won the second leg to tie the game at 1-1 but after that there was no stopping the bullet who reeled off ten consecutive legs to claim his spot in the final with ease in a performance that no one was expecting to kick off the semi-finals.
Michael van Gerwen 11 – 2 Dimitri van den Bergh
The second semi-final also proved to be quite the walkover as Michael van Gerwen swept aside his Belgian opponent to win 11-2. Michael averaged just shy of 100 and took out a 148 on his way to the victory.
Like in the game preceding it Dimitri was only seldom allowed an attempt to finish and was given only seven attempts at a double in the whole game. Despite hitting five maximums Dimitri turned out to be easy picking for the three-time world champion who marched on to face Stephen Bunting in the final.
Stephen Bunting 11 – 7 Michael van Gerwen
The final was an interesting matchup as it consisted of someone who many would of predicted to be in the final and someone who probably was not expected to be in the final by anyone, it turned into a true David and Goliath story as Stephen Bunting battled Michael van Gerwen in his first televised final since 2014.
Bunting saved his best performance for last averaging over 102 in the final by far his highest average of the tournament and in addition to that hitting eight maximums to his opponents four.
The match started out pretty equally with van Gerwen missing darts to break in the opening leg before comfortably holding in 14 darts in the second with the match tied at 1-1 after the early exchanges, Bunting comfortably held throw in 15 darts and Michael followed suit keeping the game level and five legs in Bunting held and led the game 3-2 with all the opening session of this game having gone on throw.
The first break of throw went the way of Stephen Bunting as he broke in 11 darts to win the eighth leg and led the game 5-3 opening a clear advantage over his opponent for the first time and his hold of throw in the next leg only cemented his position as he moved three legs clear of the Dutchman.
However, over the next three legs Michael van Gerwen proved why he is not easy to beat and rallied his way back to 6-6 and suddenly the game was back on throw. The pair again exchanged blows and the game was tied 7-7.
Bunting then held throw and after a missed darts at double eight by van Gerwen it allowed Bunting to again see daylight between himself and his opponent 9-7. Despite the immense pressure he was no doubt feeling he took out an 11 darter in the next leg and led 10-7 just one away from winning the match.
Fourteen darts later the caller shouted out that the match was over, and the winner of the match was none other than Stephen Bunting.
This tournament was once again proof that we are currently living through the most competitive era of Darts in decades with players able to come from seemingly nowhere and challenge for major titles, as for Stephen Bunting this has felt like a long time coming his talent has always been obvious however, his poor performances in the Premier League all those years ago and lack of results in many events since would have convinced anyone that he was on the decline but here he is proving that he is still a top darting talent and that he may just be playing the best stuff of his career.
He may also feel a little hard done by, in years past the winner of the Masters has been given a spot in the Premier League however, with the tournament being pushed back to February the Premier League lineup returned to being announced after the world championship preventing Bunting from potentially making it however, he will be hopeful that if he keeps up his performances he may be giving the chance to make a Premier League return in 2025.
Just one more night of non-ranking action left as the Premier League heads to Berlin on Thursday before after what seems like a long wait since the World Championship ranking tournaments return in the PDC as the Players Championships kick off in Wigan next weekend and for the first time the 128 tour card holders will get a chance to battle it out and try and book their places in the PDC’s biggest tournaments.