The line-up is complete, bags are packed, and costumes planned for New Zealand’s biggest weekend of darts entertainment – the NZ Darts Masters, presented by Burger King and TAB, at Claudelands Arena, Hamilton on August 23-24.
For the first time, Hamilton is home for the New Zealand leg of the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) World Series of Darts and the city is preparing for the arrival of an army of costume clad, sometimes loud, but always passionate darts fans. They know their chants, the walk-on tunes and are ready with the famous “one-hundred-and-eighty” yell when the moment arrives.
General Manager, Venues, Tourism and Major Events at Hamilton City Council, Sean Murray says securing the NZ Darts Masters is a coup for the region and will contribute to a busy weekend for the city.
“We’re excited to have this globally televised tournament coming to the Waikato and we’re delighted the fans are getting behind the event,” Mr Murray says.
“Darts is an incredible sport that has captured the imagination of sports fans throughout the world and there’s nothing that matches the sport for pure entertainment.
“We have eight of the absolute rock stars of the sport coming to Hamilton and they’ll be pitted against Oceania’s best – it will be thrilling competition as well as creating a buzz of excitement throughout the entire Waikato region.”
The PDC stars travelling to New Zealand include former Auckland Masters champions Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson as well as flamboyant Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney, James Wade and Simon Whitlock, plus retiring five-time World Champion Raymond (Barney) van Barneveld.
Although current World Champion Van Gerwen (nicknamed MvG) is undoubtedly a crowd favourite, the famous Barney Army will no doubt be out in force to see Van Barneveld take the stage for the last time in New Zealand in his swan-song world tour.
“It will be emotional playing in Australia and New Zealand for the last time in the PDC, I love the fans there and I can’t wait to perform for them,” Mr Van Barneveld says.
The big names will line up against Oceanic Qualifiers: former Auckland Masters champion Kyle Anderson, Corey Cadby, top ranked New Zealander Cody Harris, Kiwi qualifiers Haupai Puha, Craig Caldwell and Ben Robb and Australian qualifiers Damon Heta and David Platt.
Kiwi World Cup quarter-finalist Harris is one to watch, having moved to Great Britain 18 months ago in a bid to break into the world’s top ranks. He recently won a second Challenge Tour title in Peterborough, defeating Martin Atkins 5-1 in the final with a 103.4 average.
PDC Chief Executive Matthew Porter says the players are excited to be returning to New Zealand, with the move to Hamilton already looking like a winner.
“Waikato locals have been amongst our most loyal fans in the four previous visits to New Zealand and we know that they’ll be turning out in big numbers for the NZ Darts Masters at Claudelands, along with fans from right around the country,” Mr Porter says.
“Claudelands is a brilliant venue for the World Series of Darts and we know it will be an exciting event for the players and fans alike.”
The two-day format this year sees the action begin on Friday August 23 as the PDC stars line up against the Oceanic representatives in round one.
The second day on Saturday August 24 sees the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final held as the destiny of the title is discovered.
Because of the flexibility of the Claudelands Arena, for the first time in New Zealand, a family zone will be 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.