Dutchman Raymond Van Barneveld is to defend his Shetland Masters title again this year with opposition from the cream of the darts world.
Shetland Recreational Trust is staging the fourth annual tournament, with what is billed as “the best line-up yet to visit the isles”, at Clickimin on Saturday 13th July.
Seven of the eight visitors are currently competing for the Premier League title, the absentee being current world champion Phil Taylor, who won the Shetland title on the first two occasions it was held. “The Power” famously walked off stage during last year’s competition in Lerwick, claiming he had been abused by members of the crowd.
Challenging Van Barneveld for the Shetland title this year will be fellow countrymen and debutants to the tournament Michael Van Gerwen and Vincent Van Der Voort. Another newcomer is England’s Andy Hamilton. Scottish number one Gary Anderson returns after a two-year absence along with former world champion Adrian Lewis and regular visitors James Wade and Simon Whitlock.
Promoter Steve Mottershead said: “It is fantastic to be coming back to Shetland for what has become a very important event on the players’ calendars, and one they all want to be in. The first thing Michael Van Gerwen asked me after he won the World Grand Prix was: ‘Does this mean I get an invite to the Shetland tournament now’?”
Mr Mottershead said that Van Barneveld was very keen to defend his title. He said: “I am sure Barney will also say that his victory last year gave him the confidence and momentum to then go on and win the Grand Slam of Darts in November.
“It’s very exciting for both players and fans as the inclusion of Andy Hamilton and the return of Gary Anderson to this year’s tournament means we have seven of this year’s Premier League line-up battling it out to be Shetland Darts Master.
“We also have the very popular and very quick Vincent Van der Voort making his Shetland debut, and I know he will be keen to make an impact on his first visit.”
Clickimin manager, Robert Geddes added: “Once more we are delighted to offer darts fans the opportunity to witness the very best in the world go head to head right here in Shetland. The success of past years means the tournament line up keeps getting better and better and the emergence of Michael Van Gerwen over the last 12 months is sure to get the crowd excited.
“We basically have a Premier League line-up coming to Shetland, which can attract as many as 10,000 spectators at arenas on the mainland. Last year’s event sold out in under an hour and with the players on offer this year I’d expect this to be one of the hottest tickets around.”
Details of ticket packages and prices will soon be announced on the Shetland Recreation Trust website and in the local press. Corporate packages will be available for sale on Friday 22nd February with general sales starting at 10am from the Shetland Box Office on Saturday 2nd March.