A star-studded line-up takes to the Winter Gardens stage at the 2021 World Matchplay on Sunday night. Part Two of…
A star-studded line-up takes to the Winter Gardens stage at the 2021 World Matchplay on Sunday night.
Part Two of a bumper double session in Blackpool features a further four tasty First Round ties, with two former finalists among those in action.
Number two seed Peter Wright kicks off his quest for a maiden Matchplay title with a clash against Dutch ace Danny Noppert.
Wright came closest to glory in 2017 but was denied by Phil Taylor in the final; the Scot has also reached a further two Semi-Finals here since 2015.
Last year’s Second Round exit to Glen Durrant marked the first time Wright had failed to reach at least the Quarter-Final stage since 2014.
An underwhelming Premier League campaign earlier this season saw him finish seventh, but ‘Snakebite’ warmed up for his latest trip to the Winter Gardens in style by winning Players Championship 20 just over a week ago.
Noppert is making his third consecutive appearance at the Betfred World Matchplay, with his sole win to date coming against Gerwyn Price in Round One 12 months ago.
Noppert has reached two Semi-Finals on the ProTour this season but is fighting to reclaim the Dutch number two spot after being recently leapfrogged by Dirk van Duijvenbode.
Michael Smith is another man who knows what it takes to reach the final in Blackpool, having done so in his most recent visit two years ago.
Smith was denied 18-13 by Rob Cross on that occasion, marking the closest he has come to clinching a major ranking title to date.
He makes the short trip to Blackpool as the number seven seed and has been handed a tricky opener against in-form debutant Ryan Searle.
Smith landed the Players Championship 10 title in April, a month after finishing runner-up in Players Championship Five and was a back-to-back quarter-finalist during the most recent Super Series.
Searle is knocking on the door of the world’s top 32 after sealing a debut appearance in this prestigious event via the ProTour Order of Merit.
The Devon darter has a final and a Semi-Final to his name on the ProTour within the last month, underlining his impressive spell of form, and reached the Fourth Round of the World Championship before narrowly losing out to Stephen Bunting in a sudden death leg.
The final match of the evening sees Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa step onto the Blackpool stage for the first time to take on German number one Gabriel Clemens.
De Sousa’s incredible rise shows little sign of curtailing, and the Portuguese sensation is now provisionally ranked inside the world’s top eight.
An unforgettable debut Premier League campaign saw ‘The Special One’ hit a nine-darter and set a new record tally of 180s on his way to reaching the final – where he was denied glory by Jonny Clayton.
His clinical consistency on the ProTour this year has guided him to three titles, a final, plus a further two Semi-Finals.
Clemens is also gaining his first experience of the Winter Gardens stage having made his debut in Milton Keynes last year, dethroning defending champion Rob Cross before losing out to Krzysztof Ratajski in Round Two.
The world number 25 also ended Peter Wright’s reign as World Champion at Ally Pally in December and has reached three Semi-Finals on the ProTour this term.
Two of the sport’s most gifted natural talents collide as 2018 quarter-finalist Joe Cullen takes on a resurgent Chris Dobey.
Cullen was infamously beaten 19-17 by Gary Anderson in an epic Quarter-Final here three years ago and has taken his game to new heights since, climbing to world number 15.
Winner of two Players Championship events this year, Cullen has been one of the stand-out performers away from the TV cameras and will be determined to replicate that form on this iconic stage.
Dobey, meanwhile, is making only his second appearance at the Matchplay, having lost to eventual champion Rob Cross in Round One two years ago before failing to qualify last time out.
He began the recent Super Series outside of the qualification places, but his sensational triumph at Players Championship 18 all but secured his spot.
Prior to that timely burst of form, Dobey had suffered ten First Round exits in the opening 17 Players Championship events of the season.
The action gets under way from 7.30pm BST, with First Round ties 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.
World Matchplay 2021 Day Two Schedule
Sunday July 18
7.30pm Joe Cullen v Chris Dobey
8.30pm Michael Smith v Ryan Searle
9.30pm Peter Wright v Danny Noppert
10.30pm Jose de Sousa v Gabriel Clemens