PDC World Matchplay: Betting Tips, Stats & History - Saturday 21st July 2018

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The PDC World Matchplay is one of the biggest tournaments in darts. Whilst the PDC doesn’t have any official ‘Majors’ it’s widely considered by many to be one and is right up alongside the likes of the World Championships and the UK Open as the more prestigious events. 

The tournament has been famed for producing some highly exciting finishes over the years and with it is a crowd favourite. It’s based out Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, which is another massively popular spot for dart fans and is relatively accessible for spectators based around the UK. 

PDC World Matchplay Betting Tips for 2018

Top Quality Field to Topple the Odds On Favourite

Football fans who are wondering what to do with themselves in the gap between the World Cup ending and the new season beginning shouldn’t be too downhearted. Yes, pre-season friendlies and European qualifiers don’t exactly fill the void but there is plenty of sport to enjoy, starting this weekend with some top class darts. Held every year in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens since the first tournament in 1994, the PDC World Matchplay is one of the jewels of the British sporting crown.

The trophy has been renamed this year after 16 time World Matchplay winner, Phil Taylor. The Power signed off in style by winning this title 12 months ago, showing all of his combination of quality darts and nous in battle to see off Peter Wright 18-8 in the final. Of course, the man from Stoke has retired now, leaving Michael van Gerwen as the man to beat but will we see an upset in Blackpool?

Last year’s beaten finalist Wright will be hoping for another crack at this PDC major but he faces perhaps the strongest level of competition in the tournament’s history with several potential winners. We’re set for a cracking week of darts but where’s the value?

Gary Anderson (7/1)

It’s going to be a long time before Michael van Gerwen goes into a PDC tournament as anything other than the clear favourite. Van Gerwen has been the undisputed number one darts player in the world for some time now and after an incredible 2018 he is over £1,000,000 clear at the top of the Order of Merit thanks to 15 PDC titles already.

The problem is that the World Matchplay has never been van Gerwen’s favourite tournament. He’ll be happy to see the back of Taylor who famously reduced him to tears during the 2014 final but the Power is far from the only man capable of stopping van Gerwen in Blackpool. The nature of the Matchplay – there are no sets, it’s simply a race to a prescribed number of legs – opens it up to surprises, comebacks and players making the most of their momentum. That makes it a tournament in which backing the favourite is usually a questionable move, especially when Gary Anderson is in such good form.

With five PDC titles already this season, the two time PDC World Champion is in the midst of his best season for many years. Anderson has never made it to the final of the World Matchplay but he does have two of the three highest losing averages in the tournament’s history which shows he can roll his sleeves up and fight even when his opponent is playing well. The draw looks good for Anderson on paper and should allow him to build up to his best stuff so the Flying Scotsman looks far too big to ignore at nice odds of 7/1 with Coral.

Mensur Suljovic (25/1)

The nature of the Matchplay, pitting together two players without sets for an extended period of play, means that tricky players who can get under their opponents’ skin can often go further than their pre-tournament odds suggest. When it comes to frustrating opponents there are few better at it than Mensur Suljovic.

The Austrian used to be something of a cult figure, popping up only infrequently at the PDC tournaments open to the biggest selection of players. He has had to fight for every opportunity, travelling thousands of miles in the process and that hard work has really begun to pay off handsomely.

Up to sixth in the Order of Merit, Suljovic recently secured his third PDC title at the Danish Darts Open. Suljovic is still as difficult to play as ever but his quality has improved and so he represents a solid each way bet at 25/1 with BetVictor.

James Wade (33/1)

Along with Mighty Mike, James Wade is the only former winner of the World Matchplay in the field. As well as that success in 2007, Wade has played in five further finals in Blackpool. It looked for a long time as though Wade and Adrian Lewis represented the future of professional darts. After some very big wins between them, both Wade and Lewis have had their problems in recent years but Wade fans have been buoyed by a significant upturn in form in 2018.

Wade has returned to the levels of consistently for which he became known in years past. He may lack the sort of fireworks that MVG or Anderson are capable of but that consistency is a major weapon in the Matchplay so don’t rule Wade’s chances out at 33/1 with Bet365.

About the Tournament

Entrance to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool
Photo © Steve Daniels (cc-by-sa/2.0) (Image Cropped)

The World Matchplay is held at Winter Gardens and has been played here since 1994. It’s one the longest running venues for a single tournament on the PDC and whilst there have been calls to move to a bigger venue to accommodate more fans, it is regarded as a bit of an institution now, with the Empress Ballroom doing a fantastic job of providing a grand backdrop for the matches. In fact, the tournament is often sold out for all days and it did so in 2017 in record time, selling all tickets for all sessions within just 3 days of going on sale. 

The tournament is held in July, which is towards the back end of the season. It’s often a tournament that the players target to take advantage of the large prize money that’s on offer, whilst also offering large number of world ranking points that could vital in order to keep their card for the following season. 

Blackpool's Winter Gardens

The venue is based in Blackpool, a town that has a huge link to darts with tournaments being played there for many years. It’s also one of the most competitive country and national circuits on the amateur tour, which is a great reflection as to how popular the sport is on the whole. 

Winer Gardens has been constructed since 1875 and with it provides a prime location just off the sea front in Blackpool. In 2010, £40million was spent on the renovations to the plot and with it transformed what was arguably a fairly ageing building into one of the best sports for the spectators on tour. 

The Empress ballroom, which is where the main stage is located, holds 3,000 which makes it one the bigger venues on tour. It’s also been home to many pop bands over the years, including the likes of Pet Shop Boys, The Beatles, Queen, Oasis, Radiohead, Slash and The White stripes, to name just a few. 

Prize Money

The Matchplay has seen a consistent increase in prizemoney over the years and the current total sits at that of £500,000. The winner picks up a cheque worth £115,000, with the runner up being awarded £55,000. In fact, only the Premier League (£825,000) and the World Championships (£2.5million from 2018/19) offer a large prize pool than that of the Matchplay. 

World Matchplay Darts Prize Money Graph

Matchplay Format

The games on offer at the World Matchplay run a little differently compared to most PDC events. For one, the games are best of a certain number legs, not sets. The second is that each game must be won by 2 clear legs. So, in a first to 10 match, if the scores are 9-9 then the game will continue until one player is leading by 2 legs. But, sudden death will come in if the scores are still tied depending on how many legs have been played and in what round.

Below is a breakdown of the format of each round of matches.

World Matchplay Darts – Legs Played Each Round

RoundMatches PlayedNumber of Legs to WinSudden Death Score
First Round 16 First to 10 (Best of 19) 12–12
Second Round 8 First to 11 (Best of 21) 13–13
Quarter Finals 4 First to 16 (Best of 31) 18–18
Semi Finals 2 First to 17 (Best of 33) 19–19
Final 1 First to 18 (Best of 35) 20–20

Qualifying Players

The tournament includes 32 players in total, which is fairly small considering the calibre of the event. The players are picked on the basis of tehri PDC Order of Merit ranking (top 16) and the PDC ProTour Order of Merit (top 16). The ProTour players will not be seeded for the event whereas the PDC Order of Merit players will be seeded, which affects the draw. 

2018 World Matchplay Participants

Seeded Players - Order of Merit Top 16Unseeded ProTour Qualifiers
Michael van Gerwen (1) Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright (2) Joe Cullen
Rob Cross (3) Stephen Bunting
Gary Anderson (4) Max Hopp
Daryl Gurney (5) Mervyn King
Mensur Suljovic (6) Jermaine Wattimena
Simon Whitlock (7) Steve West
Dave Chisnall (8) Steve Beaton
Michael Smith (9) Kyle Anderson
James Wade (10) James Wilson
Ian White (11) John Henderson
Gerwyn Price (12) Keegan Brown
Raymond van Barneveld (13) Jelle Klaasen
Darren Webster (14) Steve Lennon
Kim Huybrechts (15) Jeffrey De Zwaan
Adrian Lewis (16) Richard North

Statistics

2017 was one of the most competitive World Matchplay to date and was wide open with the bookies beforehand.  It was Dutchman, Michael van Gerwen, who went into the event as top seed, with Gary Anderson 2nd, Peter Wright 3rd and Adrian Lewis 4th. The eventual winner, Phil Taylor, was ranked 8th, which is one of the lowest rankings he’s had for the match play in his illustrious career. Taylor beat Peter Wright 18 – 8, averaging 104.24 on his way to victory.

PDC World Matchplay Finalists

Year

Winner

Loser

Score

2017

Phil Taylor

Peter Wright

18-8

2016 

Michael van Gerwen

Phil Taylor

18-10

2015

Michaela van Gerwen

James Wade

18-12

2014

Phil Taylor

Michael van Gerwen

18-9

2013

Phil Taylor

Adrian Lewis

18-13

History

The World Matchplay has been running since 1994 and is now widely recognised as one of the biggest darting events in the PDC, second only to that of the World Championship. The first tournament was won by the American, Larry butler, who upset the odds by beating Dennis Priestley in the final, 16-12. The tournament has been unique in that it’s always been played as a best ‘s’ legs, rather than sets. 

Phil Taylor

The success of the event has largely been down to one man, who has dominated over the last 20+ years. Phil Taylor has won a staggering 16 Matchplay events, which makes the tournament his most successful in his career. What’s almost as impressive as his 16 wins is that he’s done it from just 17 finals, losing just once in 2016 to that of Michael van Gerwen. 

His 2017 victory will likely be one of his sweetest though as he completed victory in what was his final Matchplay event before he retired. In respect to the success that he has seen, from 2018 the trophy will be named after Taylor.

Other Winners

Darts Player James Wade
Credit: Chris Ibbotson, flickr

Interestingly, there have only ever been 6 other winners than Taylor at the Matchplay, which include Michael van Gerwen, Rod Harrington, James Wade, Larry Butler, Peter Evison and Colin Lloyd. To put some perspective on Taylor’s dominance in his 16 wins, the next best is that of van Gerwen and Harrington, who have 2 wins each. 

James Wade’s victory in 2007 was easily one of the highlights of his career. He eventually beat Terry Jenkins in the final, 18-7 at a time when it could be argued that Taylor was at his most dominant. Wade has been able to make 5 other Matchplay finals in total, unfortunately losing them all. 4 of those were to Taylor and the other was to van Gerwen in 2015. 

The Matchplay has created a number of 9 dart finishes, with 6 in total. Phil Taylor hit the first one in 2002, which was also the first to be shown live on UK TV. Others include:

Raymond van Barneveld in 2010, John Part in 2011, Michael van Gerwen in 2012, Wes Newton in 2012 and Phil Taylor again in 2014. As you can imagine, it’s Taylor who makes all the headline again when it comes to the highest averages. His highest and the tournaments highest came in 2010 in a Last 32 game between Barrie Bates, scoring a 114.99 average winning the match 10-6. Taylor was also the only person to average over 100 in all in his games en route to victory in 2010, which he repeated in 2011 and again in 2013. 

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