Blackpool’s impressive Winter Gardens will once again host the World Matchplay Darts Championships. Now in its 18th staging this years event sponsored by SkyBet Mobile looks like being the most open in the events history.
Defending champion Phil Taylor will be looking to win his 12th Matchplay crown, but goes in to the nine day event having lost his World, UK Open & Premier league titles in 2011 so far and will have both arms wrapped tightly around the SkyBet Mobile trophy and will not want to lose this one too.
‘The Power’ still starts the event as favourite but faces a tricky first round tie on the evening of Monday 18th July when he faces Mark Hylton, who has enjoyed a very consistent 2011 to date culminating in his last 8 spot at the recent UK Open in Bolton, and a further rise in the World Rankings.
The winner of the UK Open James Wade will be hoping to continue where he left off at Bolton and get his hands back on the Matchplay trophy that he held aloft in 2007. James opens up against another impressive Pro Tour performer Jamie Caven, Jamie will be wanting to bring his ‘floor’ form to the televised stage and he’s going to have to if he’s to get the better of Wade.
World Champion Adrian Lewis faces Kevin Painter who has recently undergone laser eye treatment so ‘The Artist’ will definitely have his eyes on Lewis as they lock horns on the Winter Gardens Stage. Lewis will want to improve on his runners-up spot at The Premier League final in May and will want to show the sell-out Blackpool crowd his World Championship winning form.
The man that beat Lewis in that Premier League final, Gary Anderson has enjoyed the most success of any player on the Pro Tour this year and now having finally won a ‘TV Major’ he will be full of confidence and his opponent in the first round Andy ‘The Hammer’ Hamilton will have to be at the top of his game to hold ‘the Flying Scotsman’.
Four players will be setting foot on the Winter Gardens stage for the first time this year, newcomers to the PDC this year Scott Rand, Dave Chisnall and John Henderson face Wayne Jones, Mark Walsh & Colin Lloyd respectively. The fourth debutant Justin Pipe plays the highly fancied Mervyn King, but Justin has enjoyed a very consistent Pro Tour season to date with some semi-final appearances and hit the perfect 9 dart leg so will look to keep that rich vein of form going.
Another player who’s been hitting 9 darters for fun this year on the Pro Tour is Australia’s Simon Whitlock. If ‘The Wizard’ can recapture his form on the doubles then he’ll be very hard to beat and could be the ‘darkhorse’ at this years event. He opens his campaign against Peter Wright.
Other big games in round one see Mark Webster face the resurgent John Part who has enjoyed success this year. Paul Nicholson the conquerer of Phil Taylor at the UK Open tackles Colin Osborne and five-time World Champion Ray van Barneveld has Steve Brown, another winner on the tour this year, to contend with.
For full schedule of matches and full draw please see the TV events section.
The SkyBet Mobile World Matchplay takes place at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool from Saturday 16th July – Sunday 24th July 2011, all the action will be screened live on SkySports HD.
Andrew Devonshire PDPA.