How Has the Action in the World Matchplay Darts Unfolded?

This weekend, what is arguably the second most important tournament in the PDC Darts season got underway at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. The World Matchplay is a special tournament in the calendar, played over a leg format, rather than sets and over the years, it has produced some of the most memorable moments in the history of the sport.

Phil Taylor’s name is synonymous with the tournament with the Stoke legend winning this tournament 16 times in total and now the trophy awarded to the winner has his name on it. The winner will also pocket a record £150,000, as the total prize money on offer in the tournament has increased this year to £700,000, up from £500,000 last year.

Other players to have won the event include Michael van Gerwen, who has won it twice, Rod Harrington (also a two-time winner), Peter Evison, Larry Butler, James Wade and last year’s winner Gary Anderson.

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The action in Blackpool got underway over the weekend and the results of those games are outlined below, together with a preview of the four remaining games set to take place on Monday evening and how the second round of the tournament is shaping up (with the draw being based on seeding).

First Round Results/Draw

  • 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

We have already seen some excellent performances and a number of shocks in this tournament in the First Round. The biggest surprise was the loss of seventh seed Gerwyn Price, who was edged out in a classic encounter that went the full distance before Stephen Bunting, a former BDO World Champion, claimed a 13-12 victory. James Wade was also taken the full distance before clinching a narrow victory by the same scoreline over Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan.

In contrast, Ian White and Mensur Suljovic wrapped up easy wins, with White smashing Joe Cullen 10-0 and Suljovic bettering Jermaine Wattimena 10-1. Several seeds have bitten the dust early on with Adrian Lewis, Dave Chisnall, Nathan Aspinall and Darren Webster joining Gerwyn Price out of the tournament in the first round.

There are just four First Round games remaining to be played on Monday evening and they are as follows:

Matches to be played later today (7pm Start)

  • 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

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 draw will be completed across Tuesday and Wednesday before the four quarterfinals take place on Thursday night. The semifinals will then follow on Friday before the final takes place on Saturday evening.

How do we see the tournament unfolding?

In the remaining four First Round matches we predict Keegan Brown, Simon Whitlock, Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright to make it through to the Second Round which would then give us the following second round and we have highlighted the player we think will win each match in Bold.

Predicted Second Round

  • 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
  • Peter Wright v Simon Whitlock
  • Daryl Gurney v Keegan Brown

I can’t see too many upsets in this round to be honest as I think the players in form are the ones most likely to progress. I can see van Gerwen and Durrant having a real battle and I think Wade v Suljovic is the toughest tie of the round to predict but the others tend to pick themselves to be honest. Those results, if accurate would leave us with the following quarterfinals

Predicted Quarterfinals

  • Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
  • Michael Smith v Gary Anderson
  • Rob Cross v Ian White
  • Peter Wright v Daryl Gurney

I’ve gone for James Wade to upset Michael van Gerwen in the quarterfinal here as I think the Aldershot-based English player is in good form and his game suits this format. I’ve also gone for Wright to get the better of Gurney simply because of the Scottish stars improved form of late. Cross and Anderson should both also progress into the semifinals.

Predicted SemiFinals

  • James Wade v Gary Anderson
  • Rob Cross v Peter Wright

If things go as predicted them the semifinals should be two cracking and very even contests. Gary Anderson’s return from injury has gone well and he will want to get one Major title under his belt this season and as such, I can see him just prevailing against Wade. Similarly, I feel Cross is now ready to add a title to his World Championship of 2018 and despite Wright’s improved form of late, I think Cross will do just enough to clinch a final spot.

Predicted Final

  • Rob Cross v Gary Anderson

I can see this final being a very tight one and if the predictions are right, I feel Cross will just have the extra stamina needed to see himself over the line here.


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