Michael van Gerwen kicks off his bid for a third Matchplay title against the most experienced player in the field
Top seed Michael van Gerwen headlines day two at the World Matchplay, as Adrian Lewis and Glen Durrant lock horns in a mouth-watering double session.
Former champion James Wade and last year’s finalist Mensur Suljovic also begin their campaigns on Super Sunday at the Winter Gardens.
Here’s what we have in store for youâ€¦.
Live World Matchplay Darts
July 21, 2019, 1:00pm
Darren Webster vs Krzysztof Ratajski Dave Chisnall vs Max Hopp Ian White vs Joe Cullen Michael Smith vs Jamie Hughes
Darren Webster vs Krzysztof Ratajski
Darren Webster defeated Rob Cross en route to reaching the Matchplay quarter-finals last year
Sunday’s action kicks off with 15th seed Darren Webster taking on former World Masters champion Krzysztof Ratajski, who leads the list of 16 Pro Tour qualifiers.
Webster has been plagued by an arm injury for much of the season and despite reaching two European Tour quarter-finals, he’s failed to go beyond the last 16 on the Players Championship circuit- losing in the first round in 12 of his 18 appearances.
Ratajski also endured a sluggish start to the season but he claimed his fourth PDC ranking title with victory at Players Championship 17 last month, before enjoying a run to the semi-finals the following day.
‘The Polish Eagle’ is one of seven debutants featuring at the Winter Gardens this year and he won the pair’s only previous televised meeting – defeating Webster 10-7 at last year’s UK Open.
Dave Chisnall vs Max Hopp
Dave Chisnall has reached the quarter-finals at the Winter Gardens in five of the last six years
One of the most intriguing ties of the opening round sees four-time major finalist Dave Chisnall take on former World Youth champion Max Hopp.
Chisnall reached the quarter-finals at the Winter Gardens 12 months ago and he will be confident of another strong showing having enjoyed a fine 2019 thus far, winning two Players Championship titles as well as last month’s Danish Open.
Hopp is making his second consecutive World Matchplay appearance, after losing on debut to Ian White last year.
The 23-year-old featured as a contender in this year’s Premier League and has reached a European Tour semi-final as well as a Players Championship final this term, but he has lost five of his seven meetings against Chisnall, who you would expect to dominate the scoring phase.
Ian White vs Joe Cullen
Ian White has never gone beyond the quarter-finals of a major televised PDC tournament
Ian White will be hoping to break new ground and reach his first ever PDC televised semi-final at the Winter Gardens.
‘The Diamond’ is renowned for being one of the most consistent floor performers, although he has transformed that to the big stage this year – reaching four consecutive European Tour finals and winning two of them.
However, Joe Cullen will feel he has unfinished business in Blackpool following his dramatic defeat to eventual champion Gary Anderson in last year’s quarter-finals, where he spurned two match darts.
‘The Rockstar’ predominantly saves his best for the big stage but he enjoyed a confidence-boosting run to the final of Players Championship 20 on Wednesday – his first Pro Tour final for two years.
Michael Smith vs Jamie Hughes
Michael Smith whitewashed Hughes 6-0 in their only previous meeting at a Pro Tour event last year
Jamie Hughes secured his Blackpool debut in last-gasp fashion with victory at the Czech Darts Open and his reward is a showdown with World Championship finalist Michael Smith.
‘Bully Boy’ has not been at his blistering best in 2019 but he has still reached the UK Open semi-finals and the US Masters Final as he continues his search for a first major TV title.
However, his Matchplay record makes for unpleasant reading. The St Helen’s star has failed to go beyond the second round in any of his previous six appearances at the Winter Gardens.
Hughes and Smith are 11th and 12th respectively on the seasonal averages table which indicates this will be a close contest between two of the most prolific maximum hitters in world darts.
Live World Matchplay Darts
July 21, 2019, 7:30pm
James Wade vs Jeffrey de Zwaan Mensur Suljovic vs Jermaine Wattimena Michael van Gerwen vs Steve Beaton Adrian Lewis vs Glen Durrant
James Wade vs Jeffrey de Zwaan
James Wade has appeared in five World Matchplay finals – more than any other player in the field
James Wade is one of three former champions in the field and he’s also a four-time runner-up at this event, having lost three times to Phil Taylor and once to Michael van Gerwen in 2015.
Jeffrey De Zwaan enjoyed a remarkable breakthrough in Blackpool 12 months ago, defeating Van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis and Chisnall to reach his first PDC major semi-final and he will be hoping to claim another big scalp on Sunday.
The Dutchman claimed his second PDC ranking title in May but Wade has scooped four titles in 2019 – already equalling his best tally for a calendar year.
The nine-time major winner defeated De Zwaan in one of those finals and he has won all four of his previous meetings against ‘The Black Cobra’.
Mensur Suljovic vs Jermaine Wattimena
Mensur Suljovic will be aiming to maintain his 100 per cent record against ‘The Machine Gun’
Mensur Suljovic will be hoping to go one better in Blackpool this time around, after he was edged out 21-19 by Anderson in the greatest Matchplay final ever staged last year.
‘The Gentle’ has perhaps surprisingly not won a ranking title so far this season but he largely focused his efforts on the Premier League; narrowly missing out on a Play-Off spot in the final week of the league phase.
Jermaine Wattimena has been the epitome of consistency in 2019, suffering just two first round exits on the Players Championship circuit.
He reached the semi-finals on his World Cup debut for the Netherlands last month but history is not on his side against Suljovic – he’s lost all five of his past clashes against the Austrian.
Michael van Gerwen vs Steve Beaton
Van Gerwen won back-to-back Matchplay titles in 2015 and 2016
Michael van Gerwen has certainly not been performing at the peak of his powers over recent weeks, but he’s still favourite to claim a third World Matchplay crown this week.
‘The Green Machine’ suffered a shock opening round defeat to De Zwaan here 12 months ago, although he has happy memories of playing Beaton at the Winter Gardens.
Van Gerwen landed a perfect nine-dart leg against ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ when they met in the second round back in 2012, but Beaton is the darting equivalent of a fine wine.
The 55-year-old is making his 19th consecutive appearance at the Winter Gardens which evidences his remarkable longevity, and the 2001 semi-finalist will be desperate to roll back the years in Blackpool.
Adrian Lewis vs Glen Durrant
Adrian Lewis needs a strong showing in Blackpool to preserve his top-16 status
Sunday’s double-session concludes in sensational style, as three-time Lakeside world champion Glen Durrant makes his Blackpool bow against two-time world champion Adrian Lewis.
Durrant has made a sparkling start since crossing the darting divide to join the PDC; winning two Players Championship titles and amassing Â£56,000 in ranking prize money.
Lewis, the 2013 Matchplay finalist, claimed his first title for almost two years in March before enduring a slump in form, yet he showed signs of a revival with a run to the semi-finals of Players Championship 20 on Wednesday.
The pair have already locked horns three times in 2019 with Lewis edging the head-to-head 2-1, but it does not get any easier for the victor, with Van Gerwen potentially awaiting the winner in round two.
The World Matchplay covergage continues on Sky Sports, with every dart from every session in Blackpool. The action takes place every night from 7pm until the final on Sunday, July 28.