We’ve posted this article a little earlier than usual this week due to the fact that the PDC World Matchplay Darts tournament, arguably the biggest sporting event taking place this week, has already got underway in Blackpool. There have been 12 of the 16 First Round games played over the weekend, with the final four being played tonight, so we are already well into the tournament.
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the players that stand a chance of landing the victory which could define their season. Can anybody stop the world number 1 Michael van Gerwen? Can Gary Anderson defend the title he won for the first time last year? Will James Wade win his second World Matchplay after many years since the first? Or will it be a new name being engraved onto the Phil Taylor Trophy at the end of the weekend?
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Let’s now take a quick look at why the World Matchplay is one of the most coveted prizes in the PDC darting calendar, perhaps second only to the World Championship.
PDC World Matchplay History
The first PDC World Matchplay took place 25 years ago and it has been held every year since then at the same Winter Gardens venue in Blackpool. The first winner of the title was the underdog American Larry Butler, who beat Dennis Priestley in the final. Only eight players have ever felt what it is like to lift the trophy, chiefly due to the dominance of the great Phil Taylor.
The Power won an incredible 16 World Matchplay titles in his glittering career and pretty much made the trophy his own over the years. Only two other players, Michael van Gerwen and Rod Harrington, have won the trophy more than once (twice each) with a number of others including Butler, Peter Evison, James Wade and last year’s winner Gary Anderson winning it once.
Outside of the World Championship, the World Matchplay is the tournament most players would love to win and being played during the summer at a seaside venue, it is also a hugely popular tournament with fans too.
This year has seen a rise in prize money too, up to £700,000 from the £500,000 that was the previous mark in last two tournaments. The winner will now pocket a £150,000 cheque for first place, along with the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy.
World Matchplay 2019 – First Round Results
The action in Blackpool began on Saturday and so far 12 of the 16 Frist Round matches have been played with the following results:
- Michael van Gerwen (1) 10-6 Steve Beaton
- Adrian Lewis (16) 4-10 Glen Durrant
- James Wade (8) 13-12 Jeffrey de Zwaan
- Mensur Suljovic (9) 10-1 Jermaine Wattimena
- Michael Smith (5) 10-7 Jamie Hughes
- Dave Chisnall (12) 9-11 Max Hopp
- Gary Anderson (4) 10-6 Danny Noppert
- Nathan Aspinall (13) 5-10 Mervyn King
- Rob Cross (2) 10-3 Chris Dobey
- Darren Webster (15) 5-10 Krzystof Ratajaski
- Gerwyn Price (7) 12-13 Stephen Bunting
- Ian White (10) 10-0 Joe Cullen
The round will conclude on Monday night with the remaining four games.
- Jonny Clayton (14) v Keegan Brown
- Simon Whitlock (11) v John Henderson
- Daryl Gurney (3) v Ricky Evans
- Peter Wright (6) v Vincent van der Voort
The draw for the second round is revealed as players progress as it is a seeded draw and as such, we already know the line up for several second round matches.
Second Round Draw
- Michael van Gerwen v Glen Durrant
- James Wade v Mensur Suljovic
- Michael Smith v Max Hopp
- Gary Anderson v Mervyn King
- Rob Cross v Krzystztof Ratajski
- Stephen Bunting v Ian White
- Wright/Van der Voort v Whitlock/Henderson
- Gurney/Evans v Clayton/Brown
The second round will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the quarterfinals on Thursday and the semis on Friday. The first to 18 final will be played on Saturday evening.
Who stands the best chance of success this weekend in Blackpool?
It is hard to look past Michael van Gerwen once again this week in Blackpool. The Dutch World Number 1, when he plays his best, is as close to unbeatable as Phil Taylor was in his prime but there have been a number of times of late where he has slipped up and while he will be the hot favourite with the bookies, his form and a very tough run to the final, suggests he could well be pushed hard.
The likes of James Wade and Gary Anderson could well be the men to do that and either of these former winners of the tournament could make a claim to be able to reach the final, and win it, especially if they can hit their best form. Anderson is coming back from injury and is not quite at the top of his game, Wade’s form however is much improved but he can blow hot and cold and struggled in the first round against de Zwaan.
In the bottom half of the draw two names stick out and they are Rob Cross and Peter Wright. Cross is starting to look like the player who was World Champion in 2018 and Wright, after a miserable start to the year, has found his form over the last few weeks and is arguably the player in the best form heading into this event.
The winner, I believe will come from this quintet of players with the most likely final a van Gerwen v Wright match up and I believe van Gerwen has the quality to earn his third victory at the Matchplay this weekend.