Dutch ace De Zwaan celebrates (credit:Chris Dean/PDC)
A quartet of World Champions star on Super Sunday at the World Matchplay as the First Round action continues in Blackpool.
Part Two of an unmissable double session at the Winter Gardens features a further four fascinating ties as the big guns aim to avoid falling at the first hurdle.
Perhaps the pick of the First Round ties sees two multiple World Champions from the rival codes collide as two-time PDC champion Adrian Lewis faces three-time BDO king Glen Durrant.
The duo enter the clash under contrasting circumstances, with Durrant having enjoyed a blistering start to life in the PDC, picking up two ProTour titles and securing an immediate qualification for the sport’s second biggest major.
Lewis, meanwhile, is battling to rediscover the form which made him one of the sport’s box office stars at the beginning of the decade and knows he must avoid an early exit here if he is to remain among the elite top 16.
Lewis’ form in recent months had signalled real cause for concern, but a timely run to the Semi-Finals of Wednesday’s ProTour event reminded everyone exactly how dangerous the Stoke natural talent can be.
Durrant is realising his dream of competing on the Winter Gardens stage and must overcome the inevitable early nerves against a player who has been there and done it multiple times over.
Lewis is one of only two seeds to be priced as an outsider by the bookmakers in Round One but the Stoke star will be keen to draw upon his vast experience and extend his unbeaten run in Round One here to nine years.
Michael van Gerwen has made a habit of silencing the critics throughout his illustrious career so far, and the coming week could see him do just the same.
The world number one and World Champion 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 left many questioning his current mindset.
Matchplay champion in 2015 and 2016, MVG will be keen to banish last year’s shock First Round exit and continue his dominance of ranked majors, starting by laying down a marker against veteran Steve Beaton.
The Dutch dynamo has fond memories of facing Beaton at the Winter Gardens, having famously landed a nine-darter in this fixture in 2012, and has won 17 of their 21 previous meetings.
Beaton is making his 20th appearance in this prestigious tournament, having made his debut back in 1998, but has lost in the opening round in five of his last six visits to Blackpool and faces a formidable task if he is to subject MVG to back-to-back First Round exits at the Matchplay.
Two players who have enjoyed arguably the best moments of their careers so far in this event lock horns as eighth seed James Wade takes on Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Only Phil Taylor has appeared in more Matchplay finals than Wade, who famously triumphed in 2007 and has finished runner-up on five occasions, most recently in 2015.
The reigning European Champion returns to the seaside with four Players Championship titles under his belt in 2019 and looking to extend his unbeaten record against De Zwaan to five matches.
De Zwaan enjoyed a sensational run to the Semi-Finals on his debut 12 months ago, dumping out MVG in Round One and going on to defeat Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall before bowing out at the hands of eventual champion Gary Anderson in an epic contest.
That run underlined just how dangerous the Dutchman can be on the big stage, but he has struggled to follow it up as yet, with his best performance of the season carrying him to victory at Players Championship 14.
A distinct clash of styles sees methodical marksman Mensur Suljovic take on quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena.
Suljovic fell agonisingly short of a fairy-tale triumph last year, losing out 21-19 in a marathon final for what would have been his first major ranking title.
The Austrian returns to Blackpool as the number nine seed, having reached the Semi-Finals of the recent German Masters and finished sixth in his second Premier League campaign.
He is aiming to maintain a 100 per cent record against Wattimena, having won all five of their previous encounters, including victories in the 2015 World Championship and 2016 European Championship.
Wattimena is set for a second stint on the Winter Gardens stage, having lost to James Wade in a tie break thriller on his debut, and the 31-year-old has since enjoyed a rapid climb up the world rankings to a career-high 22nd.
Wattimena was runner-up in the first Players Championship event of the season and was instrumental in partnering Michael van Gerwen to the Semi-Finals of the World Cup of Darts last month.
The action gets underway from 7.30pm BST, with all matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.
Matches will proceed for a maximum of five additional legs before a tie-break leg is required. For example, in a best of 19 First Round match, if the score reaches 12–12 then the 25th leg will be the decider.
Betfred World Matchplay 2019 Match Schedule
Sunday July 21
7.45pm James Wade v Jeffrey de Zwaan
8.45pm Mensur Suljovic v Jermaine Wattimena
9.45pm Michael van Gerwen v Steve Beaton
10.45pm Adrian Lewis v Glen Durrant