Blackpool’s Cast of Characters

Michael van Gerwen will open the defence of the Betfred World Matchplay trophy on Sunday night, as he prepares to face fellow Winmau player Brendan Dolan in the 1st Round at the Winter Gardens. Let’s have a look at some of those likely to light up the Winter Gardens stage during next week’s Blackpool bonanza:

Dutchman MVG claimed a hat trick of wins in Blackpool 12 months ago, after beating Gerwyn Price 18-14 in last year’s Final averaging 101.19 as he fought back to win. The Green Machine returned to darting action last weekend, going on to win the Poland Darts Masters: his 2nd World Series scalp of the year.

Michael produced 100+ averages from the Quarter Finals onwards, saving his best darts for the Final after producing a 113+ average to beat Dimitri van den Bergh 8-3. The Vlijmen player defeated Luke Humphries 6-2 in the Quarter Final, with just 1 missed dart at double between the pair across the 8 legs played. Van Gerwen has already claimed the Premier League so far in 2023, after he defeated Gerwyn Price 11-5 at the O2 Arena. 

Brendan Dolan comes into his 9th World Matchplay campaign, reaching the Last 16 stage in 2013, 2015 and 2016. The History Maker produced a surge to the Semi Finals in Players Championship 15, losing out 7-2 in the Last 4 against eventual winner Luke Humphries. The Northern Irishman can take inspiration though from his showing on Monday at the Morningside Arena, claiming his first career win over compatriot Josh Rock in the Last 16 as well as scoring 103.55 in defeating Martin Schindler.  

Joe Cullen will open the 2023 Betfred World Matchplay as he prepares to face debutant Mike de Decker in Blackpool on Saturday. The Rockstar produced not one but two strong runs in the Players Championship double header in Leicester, reaching the Quarter Finals of Event 15 and the Semi Finals of Event 16 where he lost to eventual winner Damon Heta. The Bradford born player impressed in his Quarter Final 6-1 victory over fellow Winmau player Daryl Gurney, averaging 107.16 in Event 16 on Tuesday.  

Raymond van Barneveld will also make his World Matchplay return on Monday night, with the five-time World Champion securing his qualification following a five-year hiatus:

‚ÄúI really feel like I‚Äôm coming back and I‚Äôm proud of myself for that,‚ÄĚ insisted Van Barneveld, who will meet 15th seed Ryan Searle in round one.

“It feels really good to be going back to Blackpool, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. It’s like a summer World Championship, the atmosphere there is brilliant.“

The draw could have been worse, but Ryan is still dangerous. He’s an amazing player and I will have to play my A-game to beat him.

Barney may have underestimated Heavy metal, his work with Gary Anderson seem to be benefitting both men, and it may be that RVB has a very tough draw indeed.

Danny Noppert produced his best run in the World Matchplay 12 months ago, reaching the Semi Finals on his 4th appearance at the Winter Gardens. The Freeze fell short against a rampant Gerwyn Price who included a 9-dart leg in a 17-12 victory last year. 

The Dutchman made his first appearance on the World Series stage this year in Poland, pushing World Number 1 Michael Smith all the way in the Quarter Finals of the Poland Darts Masters. The 32-year-old will hope to add to his PDC majors list after he claimed the UK Open last year, where he beat Bully Boy in the Final.

Noppert faces Martin Schindler in the 1st Round at the Winter Gardens in the opening match of Sunday’s afternoon session live on Sky Sports. 

Daryl Gurney has reached 2 Semi Finals at the World Matchplay back in 2017 and 2019, as he returns to Blackpool for his 8th campaign.  Superchin stunned Gary Anderson 12 months ago including a blind 180 during his First Round 10-7 victory over the 2018 winner. Daryl has seen a return to form after an early exit at the World Championship, beating the likes of Luke Humphries, Andrew Gilding and Danny Noppert to reach the Semi Finals of the Austrian Darts Open. Gurney starts his 2023 World Matchplay campaign against 2019 winner Rob Cross in the second match of Saturday’s opening session. 

2001 World Matchplay Semi Finalist Steve Beaton qualifies for the World Matchplay for the first time since 2020, returning to the Winter Gardens for his 22nd campaign. The Bronzed Adonis finished 14th on the Pro Tour Order of Merit to secure his return to Blackpool, most recently winning an exhibition tournament in Tipton from a field that included former World Champion Gary Anderson and Dave Chisnall. 

Beaton is handed a difficult opening First Round match against reigning World Champion Michael Smith, scheduled as the final match of Sunday’s evening session. 

Meanwhile, 2020 champion Dimitri Van den Bergh locks horns with European Champion Ross Smith in Monday’s opener, before Wales’ World Cup winner Jonny Clayton faces Germany’s number one Gabriel Clemens. The Belgian has performed well at Blackpool, as well as when the even was behind closed doors, showing a liking for both the event and the format. Could he go all with way in front of the Winter Gardens crowd?

The Betfred World Matchplay starts on Saturday 15thof July live on Sky Sports, with the Women’s World Matchplay also scheduled for the 23rdof July from the Winter Gardens as Fallon Sherrock defends her title.

2023 Betfred World Matchplay Draw: 

Michael Smith (1) v Steve Beaton 

James Wade (16) v Chris Dobey 

Danny Noppert (8) v Martin Schindler 

Nathan Aspinall (9) v Krzysztof Ratajski 

Gerwyn Price (4) v Stephen Bunting 

Joe Cullen (13) v Mike de Decker 

Rob Cross (5) v Daryl Gurney 

Dave Chisnall (12) v Gary Anderson 

Peter Wright (2) v Andrew Gilding 

Ryan Searle (15) v Raymond van Barneveld 

Jonny Clayton (7) v Gabriel Clemens 

Dimitri van den Bergh (10) v Ross Smith 

Michael van Gerwen (3) v Brendan Dolan 

Damon Heta (14) v Josh Rock 

Luke Humphries (6) v Jose de Sousa 

Dirk van Duijvenbode (11) v Kim Huybrechts 


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