The PDC World Matchplay from the Winter Gardens in Blackpool is one of the oldest PDC darts events. It is, by its nature it is one of the most prodigious evats on the darting calendar.
Michael van Gerwen will be looking to make it a hat-trick of victories this year, however, he faces a number of tough opponents and any one could effectively beat him. Michael’s first round match is against Stephen ‘The Bullet’ Bunting. Stephen is the former 2014 BDO World Champion but as yet really to show his top form on the PDC circuit. While the latest darts betting at William Hill will have Gerwen down as an odds-on favourite many will still feel Stephen could make an upset in this year’s tournament.
The World Matchplay is synonymous with one player and one player only, Phil Taylor.
Taylor has dominated the PDC darts scene for nearly twenty years. He has won the World Matchplay fifteen times and been in the final sixteen times out of the twenty-three tournaments that have been held so far. Phil calls the Blackpool Winters Gardens a second home because he just loves the event. Having announced his retirement from the sport earlier this year this will be the last time fans will be able to see him at this event, an event that Phil believes he can still win.
Phil, however, will have a tough match in the first round against the on-form Welshman, Gerwyn Price. Gerwyn, currently ranked 18th in the PDC Order of Merit recently made his debut on the PDC World Series and on his current form he could beat the former World Matchplay Champion. If Gerwyn’s current form continues he is destined to become a top 10 player by the end of this darting season. A win for Phil however, could line up a match against his friend and rival, Raymond van Barneveld. This could be the final time these famous multiple World Champions meet in a completive darts ranking tournament so many fans will wish for both players to make it through their respective first round matches.
Raymond’s first round match is against Joe Cullen and although ‘Barney’ should win this match based on ranking, Joe recently has had more match play. Raymond has also recently changed his darts sponsor and his darts setup and has yet to show the form of recent years using his new darts. The question is, has Raymond had enough time to practice with his new darts and will Joe’s recent competitive match play give him the edge?
A dark horse for this year’s title is Gary Anderson. The form two-time World Champion hasn’t won the World Matchplay title but has lifted 11 TV ranking titles including the Premier league title on two occasions, 2011 and 2015 and the Players Championship. Gary seems to be going under the radar with a lot of focus going on Michal van Gerwen and Phil Taylor, but this could be his year.
Another player worth a mention is Adrian Lewis. Adrian recently underwent surgery for a painful health issue which has kept him away from the recent tournaments. Adrian is a former runner up in the World Match play and a former back to back two-time World Champion. The mini break away from the darts circuit could be a help as he returns fresh and ready to the World Match play tournament.
The 2017 World Matchplay will, however, see the best of the PDC in an event that many consider being the dart players tournament. Fans at this event are knowledge dart fans and although they will all go for a great party they will all respect the good arrows on the oche. Summer has arrived and the darts are here!