BetVictor Masters 

Friday 1st February 2019 - Sunday 3rd February 2019

The Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes

Preview (Thursday 31st January 2019)


Rob Cross is back in front of the television cameras on Saturday night. After a good break from the game since losing his world championship crown in December, he takes on former stablemate Joe Cullen in the opening round of the BetVictor Masters.


The first PDC event of the year features sixteen of the top seventeen players in the PDC world rankings as they take to the oche at The Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.


The only top player missing out is world number four Gary Anderson who is struggling with a reoccurring back injury. His place in the draw is taken by Stephen Bunting.


Cross goes into the event as world number two and will be looking to book his place in Sunday afternoon's quarter-finals where he would come up against either Gerwyn Price or James Wade.


Cross and Cullen have met just three times on the circuit. The first of these was a tight contest in the second round of the Gibraltar Darts Trophy in May 2017, Cross sneeked the win 6-5 with a 93.83 average.


The second clash was at the end of September last year, this time Cross hit top form as he came through a 4th Round Players Championship match in Dublin 6-0 with a 115.62 average.


The most recent meeting was in the quarter-finals of the Unibet European Championship in Dortmund a month later. Again it looked as though the Sussex man was on his way to victory having held a comfortable 6-1 lead. His Yorkshire opponent had other ideas as he fought his way back into the match by winning nine of the next eleven legs for a 10-8 result.


The pair are expected on stage around 8pm with live coverage being broadcast on ITV4.

In a recent interview with Phil Lanning at an exhibition event in Prague, Cross said he has enjoyed his break, spending some good quality time with the family. He feels more relaxed, has been trying out some new darts and is ready to get back playing again.


Cullen said "I think Rob will be up for it, especially after I came back from 6-1 down to beat him in the European Championship.


"He seemed to be cruising in that one, so that was a great win for me but he'll be keen to get his own back.


"Maybe we'll be a little bit rusty early doors but once we settle down it should be another good match which I'm really looking forward to.


"I'm a big fan of The Masters event as a concept because I grew up watching the snooker equivalent. It sees the elite of the sport going head-to-head so if you're in it then you know you're heading in the right direction."


The prize fund is:

Winner £60,000
Runner-Up £25,000
Semi-Finalists £17,500
Quarter-Finalists £10,000
First Round Losers £5,000
Total £200,000


This is a non ranking event so no prize money goes towards the PDC Order of Merit.

First Round - Rob Cross vs Joe Cullen (Saturday 2nd February 2019)


Both players took a while to settle down in ths best of nineteen leg contest. In the opener Rob Cross could only find one treble from his first twelve darts thrown yet still had a shot at the bull for a 130 finish. His effort fell wide of the mark as it nestled in the single four leaving Joe Cullen to take out the forty he left after fifteen darts thrown, hitting double five after missed efforts at double twenty and double ten. Cullen then made it 2-0 with a 17 dart leg, finishing off 41 with a single nine and double sixteen. Cross then took his first leg of 2019, a 14 darter with a seventy finish, hitting treble eighteen and double eight. Cullen then held throw to go 3-1 up, this time hitting double ten in a 16 dart leg. The Yorkshire man then broke throw again to go 4-1 up at the first interval with a seventy-six finish, hitting single twenty, single sixteen and double top for a 15 darter. 


Cross then stepped up his game as he won back-to-back legs in 15 and 16 darts to trail 4-3. The first with a 124 finish (T20, T14, D11) with Cullen left waiting on 40 after hitting the first maximum of the match earlier in the leg. The 16 darter was won with the fourth dart at a double, taking out double eight after opening the leg strongly with scores of 100, 174 and 115. The eighth leg of the match saw both players hit 180s but two missed efforts at double sixteen from the Hastings man let Cullen in as he took out thirty-nine with a single seven and a double sixteen for a 14 darter. Cross narrowed the gap to 5-4 with a 14 darter of his own, hitting his second 180 of the match and taking out forty with a single twenty and double ten. Cullen then comfortably won the tenth leg in 15 darts as he hit double sixteen at the third attempt.

Coming out from the second and final interval of the match and trailing 6-4 Cross knew that he needed to stick in there if he was going to progress to the last eight. Unfortunately though things didn't go his way. He came out and scored well enough in the eleventh leg. With both players having thrown twelve darts each, Cross was on 120 and Cullen was on 100, having hit his third maximum of the match. Cross had the throw and hit a single twenty with his first dart but then hit a wild one into the treble one then redeemed himself with a treble nineteen to leave forty. Cullen stepped up, hit treble twenty and double top to lead 7-4. It looked as though 7-4 would soon become 8-4 as 'The Rockstar' opened the twelth leg with a 180, Cross could only muster a score of 40. Things didn't look good for the 2018 world champion. A poor score of 31 from Cullen allowed Cross back in and he duly obliged with scores of 180 and 134 to leave 147 with Cullen on 112. Cross then hit 135 (18, T19, T20) to leave 12, Cullen could only hit three single twenties and Cross fired in a double six in one dart for a 13 darter and now trailed 7-5. Another 13 darter followed from Cross, this time with scores of 134, 93, 96, 162 (T20, T18, T16) and taking out double eight. Now trailing 7-6 it looked as though we were in for a nail biting finish.


It wasn't to be though, Cullen stepped up his game with legs of 13 and 12 darts to win the next two and move just one leg away from victory. Both players hit 180s in the first of those legs, Cullen missed two darts at tops for a 60 finish only for Cross to miss two at double fifteen, Cullen taking out the double top with his next dart. The 12 darter again saw both players hit maximums with Cullen taking out 107 (T20, 15, D16) with Cross left waiting on 44.


Cross opened with three scores of 140 to leave 81 in the next leg with Cullen on 291. Cullen then hit 100 to leave 191, Cross then left himself 32 after hitting a single nineteen, single ten and a single twenty. Cullen then hit 159 (T20, T20, T13) to leave 32. The pressure was now on Cross to take out 32 to stay in the match. His luck was out as his first two darts wired the double sixteen, blocking the double. He stepped well wide of the oche to fire in his third dart only for it to fall well wide of the target. Back came Cullen, two missed darts at double sixteen, the first outside of the taget and the second inside, leaving double eight which he found to win 10-6. 


Cullen hit six 180's and averaged 94.89


Cross hit five 180s and averaged 97.70


"It feels really good," said Cullen. "We were both a bit rusty early on but I got ahead and stayed there.


"I don't feel like I turned up today and it was probably a 6/10 performance, but I got through.


"I had a good 2018 and I want to keep on progressing. This is a great event to be in, it's the elite and to get a win over the world number two is fantastic."        

Cullen went on to lose 10-6 to James Wade in the quarter-finals.


Michael van Gerwen won the title for the fifth year running with an 11-5 win over Wade in the final.


First Round Results
Dave Chisnall 10-8 Daryl Gurney
Mensur Suljovic 10-1 Simon Whitlock
Stephen Bunting 10-9 Darren Webster
Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Jonny Clayton
James Wade 10-7 Gerwyn Price
Joe Cullen 10-6 Rob Cross
Michael Smith 10-5 Ian White
Peter Wright 10-9 Adrian Lewis
Quarter-Finals Results
Dave Chisnall 10-4 Stephen Bunting
Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Mensur Suljovic
James Wade 10-6 Joe Cullen
Peter Wright 10-6 Michael Smith
Semi-Final Results
Michael van Gerwen 11-7 Dave Chisnall
James Wade 11-9 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 11-5 James Wade