2021 Masters Draw: Defending champion Wright faces tough opener following field expansion
Peter Wright will begin the defence of his Masters crown against either Krzysztof Ratajski or Simon Whitlock following a field expansion for this year’s edition.
Instead of the usual 16 competitors, 24 of the world’s elite players will head to the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, with the eventual winner receiving a £60,000 cheque.
The overall prize fund has increased to £220,000, with the non-ranked tournament shown live on ITV4 as well as other international broadcast partners from January 29-31.
Following the success of the recent World Darts Championship, professional darts remains behind closed doors due to current restrictions in place to tackle the surge in coronavirus cases.
World number three Wright, who defeated Michael Smith to claim the spoils 12 months ago, is one of the eight top seeds to enter at the second hurdle.
Newly-crowned world champion Gerwyn Price and world number two Michael van Gerwen are also amongst those eight participants – who face the eight opening round winners.
World number one Price will lock horns with either Joe Cullen or Stephen Bunting, with both having recently impressed at the World Championship at Alexandra Palace.
Five-time champion Van Gerwen faces a tough opening match against Jose de Sousa or Jonny Clayton, while fourth seed Rob Cross takes on Premier League winner Glen Durrant or Mervyn King.
Recent world finalist Gary Anderson could encounter his former protege Michael Smith in the second round, should Smith overcome former finalist Adrian Lewis.
Elsewhere, 2014 champion James Wade meets one of two debutants in Dimitri Van den Bergh or Chris Dobey, while World Championship semi-finalist Dave Chisnall faces Daryl Gurney or Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Ian White will be searching for his maiden Masters win after suffering six straight first round defeats as he meets Mensur Suljovic, with the winner taking on fifth seed Nathan Aspinall.
The first round will be held on the evening of Friday, January 29, followed by the second round across two sessions on the Saturday, and the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on the final day.
Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
(1) Gerwyn Price v (16) Joe Cullen/(17) Stephen Bunting
(8) Gary Anderson v (9) Michael Smith/(24) Adrian Lewis
(4) Rob Cross v (13) Glen Durrant/(20) Mervyn King
(5) Nathan Aspinall v (12) Ian White/(21) Mensur Suljovic
(2) Michael van Gerwen v (15) Jose de Sousa/(18) Jonny Clayton
(7) James Wade v (10) Dimitri Van den Bergh/(23) Chris Dobey
(3) Peter Wright v (14) Krzysztof Ratajski/(19) Simon Whitlock
(6) Dave Chisnall v (11) Daryl Gurney/(22) Jeffrey de Zwaan
First Round Draw
(16) Joe Cullen v (17) Stephen Bunting
(9) Michael Smith v (24) Adrian Lewis
(13) Glen Durrant v (20) Mervyn King
(12) Ian White v (21) Mensur Suljovic
(15) Jose de Sousa v (18) Jonny Clayton
(10) Dimitri Van den Bergh v (23) Chris Dobey
(14) Krzysztof Ratajski v (19) Simon Whitlock
(11) Daryl Gurney v (22) Jeffrey de Zwaan
Winner – £60,000
Runner-Up – £25,000
Semi-Finalists – £17,500
Quarter-Finalists – £10,000
Second Round Losers – £5,000
First Round Losers – £2,500
Total – £220,000
(Featured Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)