The World Matchplay gets underway on Saturday night, the 18th of July. It will be the 22nd Matchplay, contested once again at the magnificent Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
Phil Taylor has dominated the competition over recent years. His first win coming way back in 1995. Since then he has gone on to pick up the trophy a further 14 times, incredibly winning the last seven. Can he be stopped this year?
World number one Michael Van Gerwen is currently the man to beat. He has already won 12 tournaments this year, including the UK Open and The Masters. He will be determined to win his first Matchplay title when the final takes place on the 26th of July. He is the bookies favourite to win the title.
Reigning world champion and Premier League champion Gary Anderson is a big favourite to add another major trophy to his collection. Over the last year he has proven that he has what it takes to win on the big stage. Can he win this title and make it the triple crown? Phil Taylor is still seen by most people has the man to beat. Although he is no longer world number one, and he doesn’t win as many titles as he once did, if he plays his A game he will be difficult to stop. He loves playing at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. He is unbeaten there for seven years! Adrian Lewis has the ability to win any competition at any time. Arguably the most naturally talented player in the game today. A finalist in 2013, he will be looking to go one step further this year, and lift the trophy. His confidence should be high after winning the recent world cup of darts.
The most unpredictable player is Raymond Van Barneveld. He can be frustrating to watch at times, but on his day he can beat anybody. So don’t rule him out of lifting the title. If the real RVB turns up, every other player will have their hands full.
The only other man, apart from Taylor, to have tasted success in this competition, is James Wade. He is back on form again, regaining his place in this season’s premier league will have given him a confidence boost. He is a proven winner of major titles and could be a dangerous opponent to anyone.
Dave Chisnall was in great form throughout the premier league, if he can continue, he will have a good chance of winning his first major. Robert Thornton won the last pro tour event, he could also prove to be dangerous.
World number five Peter Wright will be looking to win his first major also, the way he plays will give him a decent chance. Michael Smith is rapidly rising up the rankings. His recent win on the European tour should give him confidence that he can soon win a major title.
At his best Kim Huybrechts is a joy to watch. If he is on top form he could surprise a few people and challenge for the trophy. Stephen Bunting has struggled a little so far this year, but with his scoring power he can never be ruled out.
World class players such as Terry Jenkins, Mervyn King and Simon Whitlock will also be looking to upset the formbook, and mount a title challenge.
I have failed to mention players like Jelle Klaasen, Ian White, Vincent Van Der Voort and Keegan Brown, who are all currently playing very well. This just shows the strength in depth that the PDC possess.
Whatever happens, this years Matchplay is guaranteed to be action packed, filled with world class arrow throwing, which will keep us all at the edge of our seats. The quality is getting better with every competition. I can’t wait for it to start!
BetVictor World Matchplay First Round Draw & Draw Bracket
Michael van Gerwen (1/12) v Benito van de Pas (7/1)
Justin Pipe (1/2) v Jamie Lewis (13/8)
Simon Whitlock (4/5) v Jelle Klaasen (Evs)
Ian White (5/4) v Stephen Bunting (8/13)
Peter Wright (4/7) v Kim Huybrechts (11/8)
Mervyn King (4/6) v Andrew Gilding (6/5)
Adrian Lewis (1/12) v Joe Murnan (7/1)
Michael Smith (2/7) v Gerwyn Price (11/4)
Phil Taylor (1/20) v John Henderson (9/1)
Raymond van Barneveld (1/5) v Andy Hamilton (7/2)
Dave Chisnall (2/7) v Jamie Caven (11/4)
Robert Thornton (8/11) v Keegan Brown (11/10)
James Wade (1/4) v Kyle Anderson (3/1)
Brendan Dolan (10/11) v Vincent van der Voort (10/11)
Gary Anderson (1/8) v Steve Beaton (5/1)
Terry Jenkins (4/11) v Mensur Suljovic (11/5)