The 2022 World Matchplay gets under way in Blackpool on Saturday night with the two most recent champions among the…
The 2022 World Matchplay gets under way in Blackpool on Saturday night with the two most recent champions among the headline acts.
Eleven different players have managed to get their hands on the trophy since the event began back in 1994, however, only three have done so on more than one occasion.
Peter Wright is among the star names bidding to join that elite group this year, having claimed the title for the first time 12 months ago.
The world number one became the fifth player to win both the PDC World Championship and the World Matchplay and went on to secure his second world title at Ally Pally in January.
Since then, ‘Snakebite’ has struggled for both form and consistency, with his sole tournament win coming on the ProTour back in February.
He has continued to tinker with his setup on almost a weekly basis and was denied a place in the Premier League play-offs on the final night of league fixtures in Newcastle.
Wright’s title defence begins with a show-down against Madars Razma – one of four debutants in this year’s World Matchplay.
The Latvian ace, who has featured in three consecutive World Championships, reached the final of a Players Championship event in March, losing out to Gerwyn Price.
Razma impressed during the recent World Cup of Darts for Latvia, defeating Hungary before being narrowly denied by England in a pairs decider after a singles win over James Wade.
Dimitri van den Bergh aims to kick-start his run to a third consecutive Matchplay final by overcoming last year’s quarter-finalist – Callan Rydz.
Van den Bergh became the first Belgian winner of a PDC major when he triumphed behind closed doors in Milton Keynes in 2020 and came within touching distance of retaining the title in Blackpool last time out, only to be denied by Wright in the final.
Winner of back-to-back World Series titles this season, the world number nine faces a crucial campaign at the Winter Gardens as he bids to defend his title winning prize money of two years ago in order to avoid dropping out of the world’s top 16.
Van den Bergh is faced with a tough opener against world number 26 Rydz – who defeated Glen Durrant and Rob Cross en route to the Quarter-Finals on debut 12 months ago before going on to reach the same stage of the World Championship.
Twice a Players Championship event winner in 2021, the 24-year-old was a semi-finalist in the recent Dutch Darts Championship, defeating Michael van Gerwen along the way.
Meanwhile, eighth seed Jonny Clayton launches his quest for a maiden Matchplay title with a tie against Austrian debutant Rowby-John Rodriguez.
Clayton suffered three consecutive First Round exits in this event before reaching the Last 16 in 2021 – when he was thrashed 11-3 by Welsh compatriot Gerwyn Price.
The reigning World Grand Prix champion and five-time televised title winner is yet to secure any silverware so far this year, notably suffering a Semi-Final defeat in the Premier League despite topping the table, and losing in the final of the recent World Cup.
Rodriguez held on to the 16th and final ProTour qualification spot to clinch his first appearance at this historic venue, having enjoyed a memorable month which began with him reaching the final of the European Matchplay.
The former World Cup finalist was edged out by Luke Humphries in a last-leg decider, but wins over the likes of Danny Noppert, Gerwyn Price and Nathan Aspinall en route underlined his prowess.
The opening match of the tournament sees last year’s semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski take on 2019 quarter-finalist Stephen Bunting.
Ratajski held on to the final seeded spot in the field having struggled to replicate last season’s trademark consistency so far this term.
The Winter Gardens has not been a happy hunting ground for Bunting – who has suffered First Round exits in five of his last six visits – but the former Lakeside champion did enjoy a resurgent run to the Semi-Finals of the European Matchplay earlier this month.
Bunting notably defeated Ratajski by five sets to three in the Quarter-Finals of the 2020/21 World Championship – their most high profile meeting to date.
Day One of the World Matchplay gets under way from 7pm BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.
All matches must be won by two clear legs, with a match being extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.
For example, in a first to ten First Round match, if the score reaches 12-12 then the 25th leg will be the sudden death decider.
Betfred World Matchplay 2022 Day One Schedule
Saturday July 16
7.15pm Krzysztof Ratajski v Stephen Bunting
8.15pm Dimitri Van den Bergh v Callan Rydz
9.15pm Peter Wright v Madars Razma
10.15pm Jonny Clayton v Rowby-John Rodriguez
LATEST DARTS FREE BET OFFERS (18+ | T&Cs apply | Be Gamble Aware)