PDC 

World Matchplay 1st Round Draw

The draw for the first round of the BetVictor World Matchplay has been done, and it’s fair to say there are some significant ties that we can all look forward to. Michael van Gerwen is the reigning champion and will be looking to get off to a great start as he faces Jamie Caven.

The Dutch giant won the championship last year, seeing off James Wade in the final to take home the trophy and a massive pay cheque of £100,000. He will be looking forward to returning to Blackpool where he has settled into over the past few years. He has already been busy in 2016, winning the Masters, UK Open and Shanghai Darts Masters, which shows how hard he will be to beat.

Phil Taylor has a very intimidating record at the World Matchplay, winning 15 of them since the first one in 1994. Taylor will always be in the betting for a major title, due to what he has achieved in the sport. However, Taylor hasn’t won a PDC ranking TV title for over a year, and has become increasly frustrated with the dominance of Michael van Gerwen. Taylor has been handed a tricky looking start to this year’s World Matchplay, as he will play the wily and experienced Robbie Green. Green only made it in after a dramatic last day at the Platers Championship at Barnsley last weekend. This will be Green’s second trip to the Winter Gardens, the last coming 12 years ago.

World Champion Gary Anderson starts his campaign aginst one of three debutants in Alan Norris. Norris will joined at Blackpool for the first time by Josh Payne and Daryl Gurney. Norris couldn’t have been handed a tougher first round tie, with the World Champion being in some of the best form of his life. Anderson has won 3 out of the last 4 World Series events.

 
Stand out matches

Dave Chisnall v Benito Van de Pas

Chizzy won’t be thankful for this draw, as Benito is one of the form horses away from the TV. The young Dutchman only narrowly missed out on a selection  for the World Cup of Darts. Van de Pas has had great success in this year’s Pro Tour so will be fearless heading to Blackpool. Dave Chisnall is one of the names that has been talked about as a future PDC major winner, but Chizzy is yet to deliver on the big stage. This is one a game that Chisnall won’t be able to ease into, if he does then it could be a short stay in Blackpool for him.

Ian White v Daryl Gurney

Ian White heads to Blackpool off the back of a Pro Tour victory last week, but the world number 12 will need to be at his very best as this looks a tough first round game. Daryl Gurney’s rise over the last year has been remarkable; the Northern Irishman has worked his way into the top 32 in the world after impressive runs in the Players Championship and the European Tour. Gurney could well outscore White in this game so the seed will need to use his expearences against the youngster.

Kim Huybrechts v Gerwyn Price

Kim Huybrechts has had a tough 18 months both on and off the board, but things seem to be on the up at just the right time. The Belgium star impressed at the World Cup of Darts and followed that up with two semi-finals at Barnsley in the most recent Pro Tour events. Gerwyn Price has fond memories of the Winter Garden, after bursting onto the scene last year when he beat Adrian Lewis in the second round. Price used to play Rugby League before switching to playing darts, a decision that seems to be paying off. Price has won on this year’s Pro Tour so has to be considered a danger to any of the seeds.

Stephen Bunting v Mensur Suljovic

This is a tie that could be very interesting; the two players are separated by just four places in the world ranking, meaning it could down to the wire. They may be close in the rankings, but that’s where the comparison ends. Bunting will have to keep his composure as Suljovic is a very methodical player, and will upset Bunting’s rhythm. Since Bunting made the move to the PDC, the former world champion has gone about his business and moved up to world number 14. Bunting will want to improve on his TV performances as they have fallen short so far this year. Suljovic is on the verge of breaking into the top 16 in the world, and if he can repeat his run to the semi-finals that he achieved last year, then he will catapult himself firmly in the world’s elite. Last year Suljovic shocked the world champion Gary Anderson in the quarter-finals, so will be a danger again this year.

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First round matches in full

Michael Van Gerwen v Jamie Caven
Vincent Van Der Voort v Kyle Anderson
Robert Thornton v Josh Payne
Dave Chisnall v Benito Van De Pas
Peter Wright v Joe Cullen
Ian White v Daryl Gurney
Adrian Lewis v Mark Webster
Kim Huybrechts v Gerwyn Price
Gary Anderson v Alan Norris
Terry Jenkins v Justin Pipe
Michael Smith v Simon Whitlock
Jelle Klaasen v Steve Beaton
James Wade v Mervyn King
Raymond Van Barneveld v Brendan Dolan
Phil Taylor v Robbie Green
Stephen Bunting v Mensur Suljovic

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