Round Two of the 2019 World Matchplay commences at the Winter Gardens on Tuesday with four mouth-watering ties in the offing.
The opening round of the £700,000 major saw six seeds sent packing from the seaside and three matches decided in a dramatic tie break.
The business end is now in sight as the big guns begin to collide as the stakes and format increase on one of the sport’s most iconic stages.
Topping the bill on Day Four is a long-awaited clash of the World Champions as reigning and three-time PDC World Champion Michael van Gerwen takes on reigning and three-time BDO king Glen Durrant.
The first televised encounter between the two tungsten titans sees debutant ‘Duzza’ looking to subject MVG to another early exit in the midst of a below-par run form.
For Durrant, this could signal an ideal time to be facing the world number one – who enters the clash on the back of a 93 average and 27 missed darts at doubles in stumbling past Steve Beaton on Sunday night.
Van Gerwen made a rip-roaring start to the season, following up his Masters triumph with six ranking titles and a defence of his Premier League crown.
In the subsequent two months, he has been somewhat less rampant, losing in the Semi-Finals of the World Cup and final of the Dutch Masters, before successive early exits in the World Series.
Durrant, meanwhile, is on cloud nine having marked a dream debut on a stage he had only dreamed of playing on with a 10-4 rout of Adrian Lewis and a 101 average to boot.
A winner of two ProTour events in his first season as a PDC Tour Card holder, the Teessider has long since silenced the doubters and is holding his own among the sport’s elite, with victory here perhaps on par with equalling Eric Bristow’s record of three straight Lakeside crowns.
Gary Anderson steps up the defence of his Betfred
World Matchplay title with a clash against veteran Mervyn King in the penultimate match of the evening.
Anderson, who became only the eighth different player to get his hands on this famous trophy 12 months ago, began his campaign by defeating Dutch debutant Danny Noppert 10-6 with a modest 93.7 average.
The Flying Scotsman will be eyeing a marked improvement as he aims to turn up the heat on ‘The King’ in one of the notoriously warm venues on the circuit.
King defied the highest average of the opening round from Nathan Aspinall (102.96) to claim an impressive 10-5 victory with a ton average of his own, underlining his constant threat to the field.
A decade on from his run to the Semi-Finals, King is now bidding to dethrone the reigning champion and reach his first televised Quarter-Final since this event three years ago.
Two Premier League stars collide in what promises to be fascinating and potentially long-haul battle as 2007 champion James Wade faces 2018 runner-up Mensur Suljovic.
Wade came through arguably the stand-out tie of the First Round in dramatic fashion, surviving five match darts in three separate legs before eventually denying Jeffrey de Zwaan in a sudden death leg.
Six times a Matchplay finalist, ‘The Machine’ defeated Suljovic 16-11 in the Last Eight en route to finishing runner-up here in 2015 but has lost their last five televised encounters.
The Aldershot left-hander produced a series of granite finishes under pressure in Round One and could be forced to do so again here against a player who relishes this marathon format.
Suljovic, who was agonisingly denied in the longest ever Matchplay final 12 months ago, began his bid to go one better by thrashing Jermaine Wattimena 10-1 with a solid 96.7 average.
Suljovic was later accused of “cheating” by his opponent – who felt he was deliberately slowing down the contest – and the methodical Austrian will look to dictate the pace within the rules to his own advantage again here.
The opening tie of the evening sees world finalist Michael Smith take on German number one Max Hopp in what promises to be a high-scoring affair.
Smith came from 4-1 down to defeat in-form debutant Jamie Hughes 10-7 with a 98.7 average at the weekend, that coming after a run to the final of the recent US Masters in Las Vegas.
Smith is beginning to show signs of a welcome return to form after a below-par season to date by his own standards, and that could spell trouble for Hopp – who has never been beyond this stage of the competition.
Hopp held his nerve to edge out Dave Chisnall 11-9 in a gripping encounter in which he landed six 180s and a high checkout of 128.
The 22-year-old, who is the youngest player in the 32-man field, famously defeated Smith 8-7 to secure his maiden ranking title at the German Open last year and will be wary of a potential backlash from the number five seed.
The action gets underway from 7pm BST, with all matches to be contested over the best of 21 legs. Matches must be won by two clear legs and will proceed for a maximum of five additional legs before a sudden death leg is required.
Betfred World Matchplay 2019 Match Schedule
Tuesday July 23
7.15pm Michael Smith v Max Hopp
8.15pm James Wade v Mensur Suljovic
9.15pm Gary Anderson v Mervyn King
10.15pm Michael van Gerwen v Glen Durrant