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 at 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 2019
The Premier League of Darts has become such a popular event that it tends to put other darts tournaments in the shade. Much of the first half of the year was dominated by the roadshow that stretches from early February to late May with even big events like the Masters, the UK Open and the European Open struggling to cut through the noise.
Things are very much different in the summer. The World Matchplay is out on its own as the biggest tournament of all at this time of the year. For many darts fans, this is the most enjoyable event of all due to its simple format. It’s a straight knockout and there are no sets in the matches, hence the name.
The World Matchplay always provides plenty of shocks as players melt under the heat of the lights at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and we’re promised another tournament you cannot take your eyes off over the next week. Check out our thoughts on the players to look out for, with one rather obvious pick and two at long odds who may just deliver on an each way bet.
Michael van Gerwen (13/8)
The level of competition and strength in depth in the world of darts has never been higher. Players from around the world and of all ages are stepping up to challenge the sport’s biggest names. In that context, the continued dominance of Michael van Gerwen is all the more impressive.
Van Gerwen has been right at the top of darts for many years now and is a worthy successor to Phil Taylor in that regard. On his day he is simply unplayable but on top of that he has the competitive streak needed to dig out a win when things aren’t going to plan. You’d think that would make him an excellent fit for the World Matchplay as comebacks are relatively commonplace. However, that’s not the case and his record in this event is surprisingly average.
For most darts players, winning the World Matchplay twice would be a source of real pride. For Van Gerwen it’s a disappointment, such are the standards he holds. For whatever reason, he often seems uncomfortable on the Winter Gardens stage. That’s something the bookies have taken into account. Yes, he is still the clear favourite but the odds of 13/8 that Betfred are quoting are bigger than you’d usually find.
Say what you like about Mighty Mike’s tournament form, he is still the best of the best. With the ability to brush aside even the strongest opponent, it would take a brave person to back against MvG this week.
Gerwyn Price (20/1)
It’s fair to say that Gerwyn Price isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. The Welshman has rubbed many of his fellow pros up the wrong way over the last few years but you cannot take anything away from the way he has established himself as one of the real stars of the PDC. A former rugby player, Price draws upon his fiery spirit to give him a competitive edge on the oche even if he has overstepped the mark on occasion.
It will be interesting to see how the Blackpool crowd take to Price’s antics. Some may view them as unbecoming of the sport whilst others will enjoy the added drama and entertainment value he brings. Either way, he is not a man that any other player will look forward to facing in the World Matchplay so consider backing Price at very big odds of 20/1 with BetVictor.
James Wade (25/1)
James Wade always looks forward to the World Matchplay. It is, after all, a tournament that has been very kind to him over the years. ‘The Machine’ has made it to six Matchplay finals in total and whilst he’s only converted one of those opportunities to date, he looks set to be a major player at the Winter Gardens once again.
After a fall down the rankings, Wade has managed to rediscover something approaching his best darts in more recent times. He is a serious contender at the biggest events once again and is more than tempting at a best price of 25/1 with Ladbrokes.
About the World Matchplay
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.
The Matchplay has seen a consistent increase in prizemoney over the years and the current total sits at that of £700,000. The winner picks up a cheque worth £150,000, with the runner up being awarded £70,000. 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.
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
|Round||Matches Played||Number of Legs to Win||Sudden 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|
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 16||Unseeded 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|
The 2018 World Matchplay was the 25th edition of the tournament and the first to not feature Phil Taylor following her retirement. Top seed was Michael van Gerwen however he was defeated in the first round by fellow Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Fourth seed Gary Anderson was the eventual winner, taking his first title by beating Austrian Mensur Suljovic 21-19 in the final. Anderson also recorded only the 7th 9 dart finish in the competition’s history, doing so in the quarter-finals against Joe Cullen. Two players scored the maximum 170 checkout, Peter Wright and Joe Cullen.
Despite exiting in the second round, Adrian Lewis scored the highest three dart average in 2018 at just under 104. Champion Gary Anderson was second with 100.88.
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 Finals: 2009 – 2018
|Year||Winner (Seeding)||Runner-Up (Seeding)||Score|
|2018||Gary Anderson (4)||Mensur Suljovic (6)||18-8|
|2017||Phil Taylor (8)||Peter Wright (3)||18-8|
|2016||Michael van Gerwen (1)||Phil Taylor (3)||18-10|
|2015||Michael van Gerwen (1)||James Wade (6)||18-12|
|2014||Phil Taylor (2)||Michael van Gerwen (1)||18-9|
|2013||Phil Taylor (1)||Adrian Lewis (3)||18-13|
|2012||Phil Taylor (1)||James Wade (3)||18-15|
|2011||Phil Taylor (1)||James Wade (3)||18-8|
|2010||Phil Taylor (1)||Raymond van Barneveld (2)||18-12|
|2009||Phil Taylor (1)||Terry Jenkins (6)||18-4|
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.
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 Michael van Gerwen.
Phil Taylor’s World Matchplay Record: 1994 to 2017
|Titles||Finals||9-Dart Finishes||Highest 3-Dart Average||Total Prize Money|
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 & Records
Interestingly, there have only ever been 7 other winners than Taylor at the Matchplay, which include Gary Anderson, 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 7 in total. Phil Taylor hit the first one in 2002, which was also the first to be shown live on UK TV. The others are Raymond van Barneveld in 2010, John Part in 2011, Michael van Gerwen in 2012, Wes Newton in 2012, Phil Taylor again in 2014 and Gary Anderson in 2018.
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.