Darts: Who's who at the 2018 Auckland Masters

The fourth instalment of the Auckland Darts Masters begins on Friday, with some of the world's best facing off against eight local qualifiers.

The 16-man tournament will feature eight of the top 30 players in the world, while seven Kiwis and one Australian make up the Oceania qualifiers.

Here's a rundown on whose taking part:

Michael 'Mighty Mike' van Gerwen

World ranking:  One

Walk-on song: 'Seven Nation Army' by White Stripes

The twice world champion is back in Auckland, after missing last year's event due to the birth of his first child. He'll be fired up to make a statement, after his poor performance at the World Matchplay.

Despite missing some time last year, the Dutchman still won 25 titles in 2017. 

Michael van Gerwen
World number one darts exponent Michael van Gerwen. Photo credit: PDC.

This year, he has won 14 tournaments, including the Premier League title and the World Cup of Darts, but the Auckland Masters is one missing from his packed resume.

Peter 'Snakebite' Wright

World ranking: Two

Walk-on song: 'Don't Stop The Party' by Pitbull

The world number two is a fan favourite at the oche, with his colourful Mohawk, obscure outfits and his dancing to signature tune, when he walks onto the stage.

Wright struggled with form at the start of the year, after battling injuries, but he has since rediscovered his magical touch.

The 48-year old has yet to win an event this year, but has finished runner-up four times.

Rob 'Voltage' Cross

Current world ranking: Three

Walk-on song: 'Hot Hot Hot' by Arrow

This will be Cross' first time in New Zealand. The 27-year-old has risen rapidly through the ranks over the past 12 months, including a world title triumph at the start of the year.

Winning the sport's biggest prize is his only televised success, but he has won four non-televised events.

Rob Cross
Darts exponent Rob Cross. Photo credit: Photosport.

Two years ago, Cross was a full-time electrician in Sussex and now he's traveling the world.

Gary 'The Flying Scotsman' Anderson 

World ranking:  Four

Walk-on song: 'Jump Around' by House of Pain

The two-time world champion heads into the tournament full of confidence, after winning the World Matchplay on Monday (NZ time) and hitting the year's first nine-darter in the quarter-finals.

Fatigue could be an issue, but Anderson will be the favourite to regain the title he won in 2016.

Gary Anderson
Darts exponent Gary Anderson. Photo credit: Photosport.

The 47-year old has won six titles this year, including the UK Open, the US Darts Masters and World Matchplay.

Simon 'The Wizard' Whitlock

World ranking: Seven

Walk-on song: 'Down Under' by Men At Work

The most successful Australian darts player sports a distinctive beard-mullet combo and has the skills to beat anybody when he is on form. 

Whitlock was a finalist at the 2010 World Championships and led Australia to the final of the 2012 World Cup of Darts.  

Simon Whitlock
Aussie darts exponent Simon Whitlock. Photo credit: Reuters

The New South Welshman has some strong performances this year, but has also struggled at times. His last final was at the World Grand Prix in October, when he lost to Darryl Gurney

The Wizard has won 17 PDC ranking titles.

Michael 'Bull Boy' Smith

World ranking: Nine

Walk-on song: 'Shut Up And Dance' by Walk The Moon

The young Englishman has come of age since he was last in Auckland, making some deep competition runs. Smith added to his 2013 World Youth Champion by winning the Shanghai Darts Masters for his second televised title.

Michael Smith.
Michael Smith. Photo credit: Photosport.

He was runner up at this year's Premier League and has won 11 PDC ranking events.

It will be his second visit to the city of sales.

Raymond 'Barney' van Barneveld

World ranking: 13

Walk-on song: 'Eye of th eTiger' by Survivor

The Dutch legend is considered one of the greatest to play the sport and will grace our shores for the fourth time.

He is one of three men to win more than five world championships and hopes to add to his 37 PDC titles this weekend.

Raymond van Barneveld
Darts exponent Raymond van Barneveld. Photo credit: Photosport.

Van Barneveld is a big fan of New Zealand. He loves the Lord of the Rings movies and often wears an All Blacks jersey.

Van Barneveld was part of the Netherlands team that won the World Cup of Darts this year and was the 2014 Premier League champion.

Kyle 'The Original' Anderson

Current world ranking: 26

Walk-on song: 'Solid Rock' by Street Warriors (featuring Shannon Noll)

Australian ace Kyle Anderson recently cracked the world's top 32 for the first time since joining the circuit in 2014 - and he is the defending Auckland Darts Masters champion.

It was his first major title, so the City of Sails will always be special for Anderson.

Kyle Anderson
Kyle Anderson. Photo credit: Photosport

Last year, he was a qualifier for the event, but defied the odds, beating Gary Anderson, Simon Whitelock, James Wade and Corey Cadby en route to the final.


Cody 'Code Star' Harris

The Aucklander has flown the New Zealand flag in darts, after he moved to the UK to earn a tour card.

He has competed in the Challenge Tour this year and sits eighth in the standings.

Harris has represented New Zealand three times at the World Cup of Darts and competed at the world championships last year.

Warren 'Waza' Parry

The man from Invercargill has arguably the greatest achievement out of any NZ darts players, having beaten Michael van Gerwen 6-5 at the 2014 Sydney Darts Masters.

Parry, is a four-time World Cup of Darts representative for New Zealand and has participated at four world championships.

Cody Harris & Huapai Puha
NZ darts exponents Cody Harris & Huapai Puha. Photo credit: Photosport.

Mark 'The Cowboy' McGrath

The English-born Kiwi will be making his big stage debut in Auckland, but playing on a big stage is nothing new for McGrath.

He played at the PDC World Championships in 2015 and then at the BDO championships at Lakeside in 2017.

His best result to date has been the final 16 at the Winmau World Masters where he competed against 500 other players.

John 'The Danger' Hurring

The Cantabrian secured the final qualifier spot for the event, when he beat Ben Robb in Invercargill last month.

This will be his first televised event. Hurring beat experienced duo Rob Szabo and Warren French en route to the final.

Haupai 'Hopes' Puha 

Another Kiwi making his big stage PDC debut, Puha quailed after he was tied atop the DPNZ Order of Merit, alongside skilled veteran Warren Parry.

Before playing darts, he was a two-time New Zealand Maori golf champion.

Tahuna 'The Beast' Irwin

The 21-year-old from Gisborne is one of the country's best prospects.

He won one of the three qualifying tournaments and also won the New Zealand qualifier for the world championships at the Ally Pally in the space of three days. Later that week, he won the Clubs New Zealand national youth title.

He will also compete in the world youth championships later in November.

Tim Pusey

Another making his big stage debut, Pusey is the fourth Australian to compete in the event and qualified after finishing atop the Dart Players Australia World Series Order of Merit. 

After Auckland, he will line up for the Brisbane and Melbourne Masters.

Pusey has had a strong year with several deep runs on the Aussie circuit.

Ben 'Big Rig' Robb

The Cantabrian was a late call-up to the event after last year’s finalist, Corey Cadby, pulled out with visa issues.

The 29-yearold was selected as the third-placed player on the DartPlayers New Zealand rankings.

Robb has never previously competed at a televised event.


Join us at 7pm Sunday for live updates of the Auckland Darts Masters semis and final.