The main tungsten event of the summer is back this weekend as the Betfred World Matchplay returns to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens. Thirty-two of the worlds very best will battle it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy. Here we look at some of the biggest names and a few outside bets:
Michael van Gerwen returns to action after winning the Premier League last month, and taking time out for surgery on a long-standing condition, and will face back-to-back World Champion, and last weekend’s Pro Tour winner, Adrian Lewis in the first round.
Mighty Mike has not won the tournament since 2016 after he defended his title against Phil Taylor 18-10 averaging an impressive 103.93 over 28 legs of darts. The World Number 4 will have his eyes set on adding more success to what could build into an impressive year, picking up the Austrian Darts Open and the European Darts Open on the Euro Tour in addition to the aforementioned Premier League.
The Winmau man also won Players Championship 8 in Niederhausen after beating home nation thrower Martin Schindler 8-4 with an average of 102.42 in the Final. The Dutchman’s last Matchplay victory included taking out Lewis in the Semi-Finals, winning 17-9 with a 101.20 average. The last time our Green Machine lifted the Matchplay trophy it included taking out Lewis in the Semi-Finals, winning 17-9 with a 101.20 average.
Jackpot will be no pushover in Blackpool however, after reminding watchers of his supreme natural talent to win Players Championship 20 beating Boris Koltsov 8-4 in the Final.
The Stoke-on-Trent thrower also beat Nathan Aspinall 7-2 in the Semi Final and 2021 Premier League Champion Jonny Clayton in the Quarter Finals, winning 6-4 and averaging just shy of a ton in the top-class tungsten affair against the Ferret.
UK Open champion Danny Noppert will make his return to Blackpool having missed out on qualification for the tournament last year. What a difference twelve months can make!
The Freeze will be full of confidence heading to the Winter Gardens having picked up his first TV title at the UK Open, performed superbly on the European Tour, as well as victory in Players Championship 19 after coming from 6-3 down to beat Andrew Gilding 8-6 in Barnsley on Saturday.
The Joure thrower is seeded number 11 and will face off in the first round against Brendan Dolan in an all Winmau tie, with Dolan going into the tournament as the most recent winner of a PDC tournament after winning Players Championship 21 against Jonny Clayton, recording an 8-5 victory over the Ferret.
The 31-year-old who represented his country at the World Cup, has only won one match on the famous stage back in 2020 against former World No. 1 and World Champion Gerwyn Price, beating the Welshman 10-7 before losing to Adrian Lewis in the Last 16.
However, this year the confidence of the Winmau star is as high as it’s ever been after winning that UK Open in Minehead against Michael Smith back in March. He also reached the Semi Finals of the recent Dutch Darts Masters losing to the eventual winner and 2020 Matchplay champion Dimitri van den Bergh.
Brendan Dolan will play at the Winter Gardens once more and will head into his match with Noppert with his confidence restored after winning his first Pro Tour title of the year on Monday. The History Maker has played this tournament a few times, but his best performance must be his 10-7 victory against Raymond van Barneveld in the 2016 World Matchplay.
The Winmau man was not guaranteed his spot at the tournament despite never moving out of the top 16 on the Pro Tour order of merit. Dolan hadn’t won a match in the first three tournaments in Barnsley but pulled off a sensational run to victory on Monday, including a victory over his first-round opponent Noppert in the Last 16 winning a last leg decider.
Joe Cullen the 2018 Quarter Finalist returns to the Winter Gardens in what has been the most successful year of his darting career. The Rockstar claimed the World Masters back in January which guaranteed him a spot in the Premier League, making his debut in the darting roadshow where he upset the odds and went all the way to the Final, losing a last-leg decider to Michael van Gerwen.
The Bradford thrower has been handed a very difficult First Round tie in this year’s tournament, as he prepares to face recent World Cup winner Damon Heta who was the highest earner not to be in the World’s top 16 on the Pro Tour order of merit.
The Rockstar is one of two players this year to win back-to-back Pro Tours having won both Players Championships 3 and 4, including an 8-1 victory over Dimitri van den Bergh in the Final with an average of 102.34.
More recently Joe struggled in the recent Pro Tour events losing in the First Round twice and the Second Round once, after a run to the Last 16 in Players Championship 18 where he lost to Nathan Aspinall on Friday.
The Premier League runner up is ranked number thirteen for the tournament and could see a matchup with Michael van Gerwen if both players come through their First-Round matches.
Daryl Gurney will face 2018 World Matchplay champion Gary Anderson in the First Round in Blackpool, with Superchin looking to build on his Quarter Final performance at the World Cup with partner Brendan Dolan for his country last month.
The Northern Irishman has made the Semi Finals on two occasions in the Matchplay (2017 and 2019) and beat the Flying Scotsman 11-9 in the Second Round back in 2019 with an average of 103.26, despite Anderson averaging over 105. The winner will face either Danny Noppert or Brendan Dolan in the Second Round.
Peter Wright will return to the Winter Gardens as the defending champion and a two-time World Champion as he prepares to face Madars Razma in the first round of the Betfred World Matchplay.
Snakebite thrived in Blackpool playing sublimely – with his golden arrows – in defeating Dimitri van den Bergh 18-9 to win the Phil Taylor trophy last summer and will have eyes set on doubling up this year.
Madars Ramza will make his Winter Gardens debut and who is better than the World Number 1 for your opening match in the summer darting extravaganza. The popular Latvian has been on a steady upward curve and showed recently at the World Cup of Darts that he is one to watch.
It’s been a steady year for Peter, since winning his second World Title back in January, having narrowly missed out on a spot in the Premier League Play-Offs despite being in the top 4 after every night except the important last night, losing a winner takes all match in Newcastle against Joe Cullen.
However, we all know the threat the World No.1 possesses having the ability to find another gear and reel off consecutive legs, with many players struggling to keep up when Wright hits that purple patch.
The Scotsman has won one Pro Tour event so far this year, picking up Players Championship 2 after beating Gerwyn Price 8-5 in the Final with a 95.36 average. The Red Dragon star had also beaten Damon Heta 7-4 in the Semi-Finals averaging 104.58 in a repeat of their Third-Round match at the Alexandra Palace last year.
Last years beaten finalist, and 2020 Champion, Dimitri Van Den Bergh really seems to enjoy the summer months. Not only does he has a very strong World Matchplay record but he has produced a superb run of wins and finals in recent European Tour and continental based events. The Belgian has plenty to defend, and will not have it easy against Callan Rydz in Rd.1, but he seems to have adjusted to becoming a family man and is now approaching his best again.
World No.2 Gerwyn Price has never won the World Matchplay title, with the Quarter Final stage the furthest he’s gone in Blackpool in both 2015 and 2021. The Iceman also struggled in the Premier League this year finishing seventh in the table, it will only take a rested and firing Welsh Dragon to inspire fear in the other 31 players in the tournament.
The Welshman has not been handed the easiest of draws, with debutant and German World Cup star Martin Schindler his first-round opponent at the Winter Gardens. The German international is enjoying his best year on the PDC circuit, having reached the Semi-Finals in Players Championship 20 on Saturday losing to Boris Koltsov.
An encounter with Dave Chisnall or Kim Huybrechts awaits the winner of the first-round clash, well it is the Matchplay and there are no easy games. Both have been threatening to hit their straps and their best form and could be one run away from doing so.
Red Dragon star Price has won once on the Pro Tour this year, winning Players Championship 7 after beating Madars Razma 8-4 in the Final with an average of 101.02 in Niederhausen. The Markham ace also staged a sensational comeback against Rob Cross in the Semi-Finals coming from 6-2 down to beat the 2018 World Champion 7-6.
More recently the 37-year-old also reached the Final of the World Cup with partner Jonny Clayton as the pair lost 3-1 in the Final to Australia represented by Simon Whitlock and Damon Heta. Gezzy will be very keen to add the Matchplay to his roll of honour that includes the World Grand Prix and 3 Grand Slams,
Luke Humphries is perhaps the most in form Red Dragon man and has been the king of the Euro Tour in 2022 having picked up four titles. Cool Hand has been handed a tough opener against Nathan Aspinall in the First Round with both players picking up one title so far on the Pro Tour.
The Newbury ace has had the better year of the two, winning the Czech Darts Open and recently the European Darts Matchplay, beating another Blackpool debutant this year in Rowby-John Rodriguez 7-7 in the Final. Victory over the Asp should not be taken for granted. Fiercely competitive and with the abilty to raise his game quickly Aspinall has coped well with a difficult injury and will be looking forward to a less impeded second half of the season
Humphries’ best run in the Matchplay came last year when he reached the Last 16, beating James Wade 10-3 before losing to Krzysztof Ratajski 11-5 who went on to reach the Semi-Finals.
The Englishman is ranked number 12 for the tournament and could see a potential rematch with James Wade in the second round should he win his match with Aspinall. That will depend upon The Machine overcoming his first-round opponent, debutant Martin Lukeman, who Luke beat 8-2 in a European Tour final, having averaged over 107 in beating Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen 7-0 in the Semis.
Jonny Clayton who finished top of this year’s Premier League could face Dimitri van den Bergh in a blockbuster Second Round match. The Ferret must get past his First-Round match which will be against the in-form Rowby-John Rodriguez who guaranteed the last qualification spot for Blackpool finishing 16th on the Pro Tour Order of Merit.
The Pontyberem ace will have been disappointed to not defend his Premier League title having been the only player to record four-night wins in the new look format and coming top of a table that included the World’s top 8 players
The World Number 8 is looking to add the World Matchplay to his list of the game’s most prestigious titles. Balckpoolis yet to prove a happy hunting ground for The Ferret although Clayton beat Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-7 in the second match of the opening night last year but lost to his Welsh compatriot Gerwyn Price 11-3 as the Iceman won the all-Red Dragon battle.
A final name to keep in the mind is Rob Cross. The Hastings man knows what it takes to win here and has been playing rather well at times this year, whilst going unrewarded. Voltage is the sort of player who wins events and major trophies without people seeing it in advance and a first round encounter with Chris Dobey ensures neither player will be the full focus of attention. Dismiss them at tour peril
The PDC’s World Matchplay kicks of on Saturday with the biggest names in the sport looking to lift the Phil Taylor trophy. The competition kicks off, from Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens, this Saturday and will be live on Sky Sports.
2022 World Matchplay Draw
- Peter Wright (1) v Madars Razma
- Krzysztof Ratajski (16) v Stephen Bunting
- Jonny Clayton (8) v Rowby-John Rodriguez
- Dimitri van den Bergh (9) v Callan Rydz
- Michael van Gerwen (4) v Adrian Lewis
- Joe Cullen (13) v Damon Heta
- James Wade (5) v Martin Lukeman
- Luke Humphries (12) v Nathan Aspinall
- Gerwyn Price (2) v Martin Schindler
- Dave Chisnall (15) v Kim Huybrechts
- Jose de Sousa (7) v Gabriel Clemens
- Rob Cross (10) v Chris Dobey
- Michael Smith (3) v Andrew Gilding
- Dirk van Duijvenbode (14) v Ryan Searle
- Gary Anderson (6) v Daryl Gurney
- Danny Noppert (11) v Brendan Dolan
The inaugural World Women’s Matchplay will also take place on Sunday, July 24th with the World Top 8 Ladies battling it out for the first fully televised PDC Ladies major.
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