Betfred World Matchplay Preview: Stars Poised For Summer Showdown In Blackpool

The 29th staging of the World Matchplay will feature ten sessions of action across nine days from July 16-24
14:55, 15 Jul 2022

Reigning champion Peter Wright kicks off his title defence at the 2022 Betfred World Matchplay in Blackpool on Saturday

The iconic Winter Gardens will play host to the showpiece event of the darting summer, with Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith making up the top three seeds in the 32-player field.

The 29th staging of the World Matchplay will feature ten sessions of action across nine days from July 16-24, as the sport’s biggest names compete for a tournament-record £800,000 in prize money and the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy.

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The first round pits the top 16 players from the PDC Order of Merit against the 16 qualifiers from the ProTour Order of Merit, and Wright will take on Latvian debutant Madars Razma in his opener. 

“You cannot beat being at Blackpool,” said Wright, who finished last year’s tournament with an incredible 104.91 average.

“It’s a bit like the World Championship. When you walk into the arena, I get goosebumps. So many amazing people have performed there. You’re in a special place.” 

Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Lawrence Lustig/PDC

The Scot has struggled for form at times since landing his second World Championship crown in January, but after posting eight ton-plus averages across four days of ProTour action in Barnsley last week, he’s in a bullish mood heading to Blackpool.

“I believe I’m hitting form just at the right time, but there is still room for improvement,” added the 52-year-old.

“My form has been terrible this year, but my head is in a good place now, and I’m going to go and win it again.” 

Wright defeated Belgium's Dimitri Van den Bergh in last year’s final, and the 2020 champion will also feature on a thrilling opening night, as he faces World Championship quarter-finalist Callan Rydz.

Krzysztof Ratajski - a Blackpool semi-finalist last year - takes on Stephen Bunting in the tournament’s curtain-raiser, while Jonny Clayton meets enigmatic Austrian debutant Rowby-John Rodriguez to complete Saturday’s session.

Former Premier League champion Clayton has only registered a solitary victory in his four previous World Matchplay appearances, and is desperate to make his mark in Blackpool.

“I am determined. The World Matchplay is my favourite tournament,” said the Welshman, who will take on Van den Bergh or Rydz if he progresses to round two.

“I’m going to take every game as it comes, and I’ve got a massive job to do on Saturday night, because Rowby is playing really well.

“Winning the World Matchplay would be right up there with my best achievements, because you have to play your socks off to beat the world’s best dart players.”

Sunday afternoon’s action features a clash between 2018 champion Gary Anderson and two-time TV title winner Daryl Gurney, with former World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode opening proceedings against Ryan Searle.

Elsewhere, 2019 runner-up Smith and this year's UK Open champion Danny Noppert kick off their campaigns against Andrew Gilding and Brendan Dolan respectively. 

Two-time World Matchplay winner Michael van Gerwen and 2013 runner-up Adrian Lewis then lock horns in a blockbuster clash on Sunday evening, with 2007 champion James Wade also part of a stellar line-up.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Wade, who has appeared in six World Matchplay finals, has a special affinity with the Winter Gardens, and is relishing his annual pilgrimage to the Winter Gardens, where emerging star Martin Lukeman awaits in round one.

“I can't believe it's 15 years since I won in Blackpool. It's a long time but it doesn't feel like it,” joked Wade, seeded fifth this year.

“I really want to win another World Matchplay. I want to win every tournament I play in, but this one means a little bit more to me. It's always meant more to me.  

“It is definitely my favourite venue. The first time I played there in 2006 was amazing and I got to the final. It is special for me.” 

Luke Humphries - a four-time European Tour winner in 2022 - will aim to continue his blistering form when he meets former UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall, while Sunday evening’s action gets underway with Premier League runner-up Joe Cullen locking horns with World Cup winner Damon Heta.

Heta steered Australia to a maiden World Cup of Darts success alongside Simon Whitlock in Frankfurt last month, and he headlines the list of 16 ProTour representatives following his impressive form on the circuit. 

“This is my second time here, so I know what the World Matchplay is about now. It’s obviously very iconic,” said Heta, who was beaten by Van Gerwen on his Blackpool bow 12 months ago.

“I’m hungry for success and anyone who plays me will be in for a real battle. I feel I’ve been very consistent this year, so if I turn up it will take a lot to beat me.

“I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years, both on the TV stage and on the ProTour. Now I feel ready to take the next step, which is winning a TV ranking event.”

2021 World Champion Price enters the fray on Monday night as the first round draws to a close, and the world number two faces Martin Schindler, who is making his first Winter Gardens appearance.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Price averaged 117.88 in dispatching Schindler at last month’s World Cup of Darts over a shorter format, and the Welshman is hoping for a repeat performance as he eyes a first World Matchplay title.

“I want to win every major this year,” said the Welshman, who will reclaim the world number one spot if he lifts the prestigious trophy on July 24.

“The World Matchplay is the second biggest ranking event of the whole calendar, so to win that one would be special. 

“I need to play my A-game all the way through if I want to win it, because everybody is playing well, and anybody can beat anybody these days.

“I’m on the practice board, I’m playing well and I’m looking forward to Monday night.”

Meanwhile, 2019 champion Rob Cross faces Chris Dobey in Monday’s opener, before seventh seed Jose De Sousa and five-time quarter-finalist Dave Chisnall play Gabriel Clemens and Kim Huybrechts respectively. 

The second round takes place across Tuesday July 19 and Wednesday July 20, with the quarter-finals staged on Thursday July 21 and Friday July 22.

The semi-finals will take place on Saturday July 23, before the final is held following the inaugural Betfred Women’s World Matchplay on Sunday July 24, when the champion will lift the Phil Taylor Trophy and scoop the new £200,000 top prize. 

Van Gerwen is Betfred's 6/1 pre-tournament favourite, with Price the 7/1 second favourite and Wright joined by Clayton as 8/1 chances to claim the Phil Taylor Trophy. 

The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).

2022 Betfred World Matchplay Schedule of Play

Saturday July 16 (1900 BST)

4x First Round

Krzysztof Ratajski v Stephen Bunting

Dimitri Van den Bergh v Callan Rydz

Peter Wright v Madars Razma

Jonny Clayton v Rowby-John Rodriguez

Sunday July 17

Afternoon Session (1300 BST)

4x First Round

Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ryan Searle

Danny Noppert v Brendan Dolan

Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney

Michael Smith v Andrew Gilding 

Evening Session (1930 BST)

4x First Round

Joe Cullen v Damon Heta

James Wade v Martin Lukeman

Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis

Luke Humphries v Nathan Aspinall 

Monday July 18 (1900 BST)

4x First Round

Rob Cross v Chris Dobey

Jose de Sousa v Gabriel Clemens

Gerwyn Price v Martin Schindler

Dave Chisnall v Kim Huybrechts

Tuesday July 19 (1900 BST)

4x Second Round 

Wednesday July 20 (1900 BST)

4x Second Round 

Thursday July 21 (2000 BST)

2x Quarter-Finals

Friday July 22 (2000 BST)

2x Quarter-Finals

Saturday July 23 (2000 BST)

Semi-Finals

Sunday July 24

Afternoon Session (1300 BST)

Women's World Matchplay – Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals & Final

Evening Session (2100 BST)

Final

Betfred's World Matchplay outrights*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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