World Matchplay Darts – Day One Preview

The waiting is over! Tonight sees the start of the World Matchplay tournament from Blackpool. One of the players and fans favourite events on the circuit and always a great week of darts action.

This first session sees some high quality matches to get the tournament underway. I have put together a brief guide to tonights games to help you enjoy your viewing or help you decide who to bet on. I have also added my selected bets too.

Whitlock vs Klaasen

Simon Whitlock
• Whitlock has been defeated in his opening match in each of the last 5 major TV ranking tournaments.
• A two time semi-finalist at the World Matchplay including last year when he lost to van Gerwen in the final four.
• Has met Jelle Klaasen twice in the World Matchplay, winning on both occasions (2010 & 2013).

Jelle Klaasen
• Klaasen has reached the final of two ranking events in the past two months, winning the most recent one in early July.
• Has an impressive 73.5% win percentage in his ranking tournament matches this season.
• Returns to the Matchplay after missing out in 2014. His last game in the tournament was a 10-8 first round defeat against Simon Whitlock in 2013.

An inform Klaasen poses a massive threat to 8th seed Whitlock who has failed to win a match in his last 5 TV major ranking tournament. Klaasen starts the game as the bookies favourite and it is hard to disagree on current form. I still wouldn’t dismiss Whitlock too easily though as Klaasen can be erratic at times. I think early missed doubles will play a huge part in who wins the game, both can be guilty of missing chunks of doubles. I would give the overall edge to Klaasen but this could be a match that requires extra legs to separate the pair.

Wright vs Huybrechts

Peter Wright
• Reached his second TV major ranking final in March at the UK Open before losing to Michael van Gerwen.
• Winner of two Players Championship tour events this season and part of the Scotland team that lost in the World Cup final to England in June.
• Has only won one match in four previous World Matchplay tournaments, this was against Kim Huybrechts in 2013.

Kim Huybrechts
• Losing finalist in two of his last three ranking tournaments, the latest being the European Darts Open where he defeated van Gerwen on his way to the final.
• Although he reached the semi-final of the Grand Slam in 2014, he has not gone past the last 16 in a TV major ranking tournament since reaching the final of the Players Championship in 2012.
• Has only recorded two wins against Peter Wright in their last eleven meetings.

A very tough draw and neither would have been too happy with their names pulled out against each other. Wright has the supremacy in their recent meetings, especially on the TV stage having beaten Huybrechts in the Premier League this season, the European Championship last year and the World Matchplay in 2013. Huybrechts has the game to beat Wright and has shown recent form in reaching the final of the last tour event. Wright though has a little more consistency and I would agree with the bookies in making him favourite.

van Gerwen vs van de Pas

Michael van Gerwen
• He has won 10 ranking events on the PDC tour so far this season with a match win percentage of 90%.
• Hasn’t lost in the opening round of a PDC TV major ranking tournament in over 20 tournaments.
• Van Gerwen has won 5 of the last 9 major ranking tournaments and has only failed to reach the semi-finals twice in the last twelve.

Benito van de Pas
• He has climbed up the rankings into the world top 32 in only his second season on the PDC circuit.
• Reached his first PDC ranking final in June at the International Darts Open, losing in the final to Michael Smith.
• Won the last meeting against van Gerwen when he defeated van Gerwen 6-4 in their last 16 encounter at the International Darts Open last month.

World number one Michael van Gerwen opens his quest for another major tournament against countryman Benito van de Pas, young and improving all the time van de Pas has broken into the top 32 with some consistent performances on the tour, he won’t fear van Gerwen having beaten him recently. Though van Gerwen might have lost that encounter that wasn’t in a major tournament and this is where van Gerwen will really look to turn on the form. He has shown the levels he is capable of in big events and I can’t see van de Pas stopping him this time.

Lewis vs Murnan

Adrian Lewis
• Winner of three ranking tournaments this season and losing finalist in three more.
• The last time Adrian Lewis lost to a player in a major TV ranking event who isn’t in the current PDC top 32 was at the World Grand Prix in 2011 (lost to John Part).
• In two of the last three World Matchplays Lewis has won his first round match without conceding a leg. (vs Gilding 2014, vs Thornton 2012).

Joe Murnan
• Murnan is lowest ranked player this season to win a PDC ranking event, having won a Players Championship tournament in May. It was a tournament that featured van Gerwen, Taylor and Anderson.
• He has also won two tournaments on the PDC Challenge Tour this season, the most recent being earlier this month.
• Making his debut at the World Matchplay though he has competed in four UK Open tournaments.

Another of the main contenders for the tournament rounds off the action with 2013 finalist Adrian Lewis facing debutant Joe Murnan. Murnan earned his spot in the event on the back of a very good win in a tour event in May, the fact van Gerwen, Taylor and Anderson all played in the event shows it wasn’t a weakened field although he didn’t defeat any of those he did beat van der Voort, Bunting and Chisnall. I wouldn’t expect Lewis to lose this game. I expect a strong display and a 100+ average from Jackpot.

My recommended bets of the night are:
Whitlock vs Klaasen – Over 128.5 checkout in the match.
Whitlock vs Klaasen – Over 16.5 legs in the match.
Wright vs Huybrechts – Over 129.5 checkout in the match.
Lewis vs Murnan – Lewis handicap -4.5
Van Gerwen & Lewis (Double) – Most 180’s in their matches


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