THE 2016 World Matchplay is the 23nd annual staging, organised by the Professional Darts Corporation. The tournament takes place at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, from July 16–24.
The draw took place last Thursday on Sky Sports News, where defending champion Michael van Gerwen as well as 31 other competitors discovered their fate. The World Matchplay is a leg play format instead of set play, which dominates the World Championship. Games must be won by two clear legs, however since 2013 games will now only proceed for a maximum of six extra legs before a tie-break leg is required.
Van Gerwen will be the man to watch according to sponsors BetVictor. Backers should be particularly cautious in considering the 6-5 when the likes of Taylor and Anderson are around the 6-1 mark. Speaking of Taylor, his seven-year dominance was ended last year with van Gerwen stepping up to take the title he emotionally lost out a year earlier in the final.
The only other representative who has won the event competing is the machine James Wade, who occupies Taylor’s quarter, so could well be a quarter-final showdown. Wade made his sixth Matchplay final in 2015, having made back to back finals in 2011 and 2012 is 28-1 with Skybet.
MVG in quarter one could have a showdown going with seed with Dave Chisnall or Robert Thornton in the last 8. The Dutchman may even be showcased with long term pal Vincent van der Voort in the second round. Thornton will be looking to make it 7th time lucky as he takes on rising star Josh Payne and is in with a shout to finally see off his stage fright at the winter gardens.
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Chisnall, who has been keeping busy since the Premier League on the World Series circuit, will be a tough opponent. Facing big ben Benito van de Pas will be entertaining, with no guarantees for Chizzy on this one.
Quarter two could be entertaining for those with good memories. In 2015 Gerwyn Price knocked out jackpot Adrian Lewis with the pair possibly set to meet in the last sixteen stage. With Lewis entertaining Mark Webster in his opener, although the odds imply Lewis will see the last sixteen although Webster has played some of his finer darts. Gerwyn Price will have a tricky tie with Kim Huybrechts and snakebite Peter Wright will be tested by Joe Cullen with the winner of this meeting either recent pro-tour winner Ian White and Darryl Gurney.
Quarter three has the likes of Anderson, one of the best players of 2016 heading this quarter but with the likes of Alan Norris in his opener. With Michael Smith the other top seed alongside Jelle Klaasen and Terry Jenkins as the supporting seeds. It will take a formidable opponent to beat Anderson, who has shone through the World Series and the match play is one that Gary really wants to win. Michael smith made some impact on the European Tour stage, although apart from Klaasen, we have not seen much of the field on TV for a while.
Quarter four has two past winners of the competition namely Phil Taylor and James Wade. Raymond van Barneveld could be a dark horse in this competition, purposely playing more part time, missing out on the European tour and pro-tour events to concentrate on the World Series and hopefully the matchplay. Barney will face Dolan, who has tumbled down the rankings without anything too notable in the last few months. Wade should face Barney, if supreme in the last sixteen if the multi-time finalist and winner machine can beat Mervyn King. Taylor has the route of Robbie Green and then the winner will face the victor of Bunting and Suljovic. Phil is the even money favourite to take the quarter, with Barney and Wade both on 7-2.
The question will be, will there be a perfect leg also known as a nine-dart finish? Sponsors BetVictor have pledged make a charitable donation to Parkinson's UK (the official PDC charity of 2016) of £5000 for every nine-dart finish achieved during the 2016 BetVictor World Matchplay. There have been six previous nine-darters achieved in the World Matchplay, most recently by Taylor in 2014 but notably when TWO perfect legs were hit in successive days during the 2012 event, by van Gerwen and Wes Newton.
Readers of my column will know we took the no nine-dart finish last year and got 11-10 with the sponsors, who are meaner in offering just 8-11 for another blank this campaign. Backers will be able to pocket 2-1 on exactly one, but those visioning another 2012 can get 4-1 on two or more perfect legs.
Looking at some worthy bets, I am looking at the quarter betting and like the look of Wright to win his quarter at 9-4 with Skybet. Taylor at evens to win his quarter must be considered on a possible lay off if Taylor gets to the quarter finals will be odds on of 4-11 – 2-5 to see off Wade or Barney especially over this format. I like that.
I do like Anderson on the outright also although his 6-1 is best 5-1 and the each-way odds are half odds for a place in the final.
No 9-darter – 1-1 target price (no bet below 2.0) 1 pt
P Wright to win Q2 – 9-4 Skybet 0.5 pts
Taylor to win Q4 – 1-1 Skybet 1pt