One of the highlights of the sporting calendar is set to get underway on July 20th as the World Matchplay returns to Blackpool's Winter Gardens. With a number of interesting newcomers in the field, it looks set to be another hugely entertaining showdown on the north west coast.
32 players will be vying to get their hands on the Phil Taylor Trophy at the iconic venue this summer, with the full line-up having been recently published at https://www.pdc.tv/news/2019/06/30/2019-betfred-world-matchplay-field. There's an impressive selection of debutants in the field including Teesside's Glen Durrant and the upwardly mobile Jamie Hughes.
The latter was recently victorious at the Czech Darts Open with a superb win over the experienced Stephen Bunting. For anyone who missed the 33-year old's recent triumph, highlights of his 8-3 victory are now available at https://dartsnews.com/video-re-live-czech-darts-open-final-between-hughes-and-bunting/, and his memorable triumph in Prague helped earn him a place amongst this elite field.
Other newcomers include Nathan Aspinall, Chris Dobey, Keegan Brown, Ricky Evans, Danny Noppert and Krzysztof Ratajski. The latter won his fourth ranking title in Wigan last month, which enabled him to take part in this event.
It is certainly worth keeping an eye on this impressive list of newcomers, but it is Michael Van Gerwen who heads the field once again. The Dutchman hasn't been at his imperious best in 2019, despite starting his campaign with a victory over Michael Smith at Alexandra Palace. Paddy Power's latest odds for the tournament are available at https://www.paddypower.com/darts, and it's unsurprising to see Mighty Mike at the head of the market. He is followed by Rob Cross, who is currently available at 15/2, whilst defending champion Gary Anderson is third in the betting.
The Scot will go into the tournament as the fourth seed, and will be hoping to make it successive victories at this popular summer event. He was forced into an early withdrawal from the Premier League, and had to skip the Masters due to a persistent back injury, but he should be fit enough to take to the stage at the Winter Gardens.
Two-time champion Michael Van Gerwen crashed out of the tournament in the first round twelve months ago, and he'll be determined to make amends for his shock defeat to fellow Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan. He returned to form at the O2 with a victory in the Premier League of Darts back in May, yet he failed to make it beyond the last 32 of the Czech Open. However, MVG often reserves his best performances for the bigger tournaments, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him bounce back in Blackpool.
He could potentially meet Adrian Lewis in the second round, and will be hoping to avoid an early exit for the second successive season. The Dutchman has beaten 'Jackpot' on numerous occasions, but his side of the draw looks tough, with both James Wade and 2018 finalist Mensur Suljovic likely to face MVG during the latter stages of the event. He has his work cut out, and can't afford to put in any underwhelming performances.
The World Matchplay is always one of the most anticipated events on the calendar, and with 32 players all aiming to get their hands on the £150,000 prize pot, it should result in a highly competitive seven days on the north west coast.