2016 World Matchplay – Day Two Preview

It’s day two at the 2016 BetVictor World Matchplay and today it’s a double session of darts action with four afternoon matches and four evening matches.

I’ve added the previews for both sessions into this article so everything you need to know about all 8 matches is in one handy place.

Firstly here are my previews for the afternoon session (1pm start).

Bunting v Suljovic

Bunting

  • Bunting is making his 3rd consecutive appearance at the World Matchplay having made the tournament each year since he joined the PDC in 2014.
  • On his debut at the Matchplay in 2014 he defeated Peter Wright in the first round before losing to Gary Anderson. Last year he was beaten in a very high quality first round match against Ian White where Bunting averaged 101.62.
  • Suljovic will be the first unseeded player Bunting has met at the Matchplay, though with the Austrian being ranked 17 he couldn’t have chosen a much harder non seeded player.
  • He has tasted success on the PDC circuit this season, winning a Players Championship tournament in March. On his way to the title he defeated Robert Thornton, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen in the final.
  • Apart from that tournament win he has had mixed results in ranking tournaments having reached only 2 other quarter-finals.
  • Bunting has failed to get further than the Last 16 in a TV ranking tournament since the UK Open in 2015; he has played in 6 TV ranking tournaments since then.

Suljovic

  • Suljovic is also making his 3rd appearance at the Matchplay; he qualified for the first time in 2013 when he lost to van Barneveld in the first round. Last year he beat Terry Jenkins and world champion Gary Anderson on his way to the quarter-finals where he run was ended by eventual runner-up James Wade.
  • In his last 7 PDC TV ranking tournaments he has only failed to get to the Last 16 on one occasion (the only time was when he lost 6-5 to Chisnall at the European Championship in 2015).
  • In his last 10 PDC TV ranking tournaments he has reached 5 quarter-finals and progressed to the semi-finals on 2 of those occasions.
  • Suljovic has had a very consistent year on the tour away from the TV screens; he is the only player on the circuit who has won money in every single ranking tournament in 2016.
  • In a strange quirk of fate Suljovic and Bunting also met in the last ranking tournament played and that was also the first time they have met. Suljovic won the match 6-3.

Verdict

Suljovic was undoubtedly one of the players that the seeded players wouldn’t have wanted to face in the opening round, he has proven very hard to beat both on the big stage and in the floor tournaments and will soon be in the top 16. Bunting has shown glimpses of returning to the form he showed in 2014 when he had some good runs in PDC TV tournaments, but he still isn’t throwing as consistently well as he was. Bunting certainly has the ability to win the match but I think Suljovic’s consistency and ability to take out shots at key moments will give him the edge.

 

Huybrechts v Price

Huybrechts

  • Kim Huybrechts will be playing in his 5th consecutive World Matchplay since making his debut in 2012. He has yet to win a match at the tournament having been defeat in the first round by Terry Jenkins, Mervyn King and Peter Wright (twice).
  • He should have made a winning start on his Matchplay debut when he was 9-5 up against Terry Jenkins; Huybrechts was averaging 104 and looking a certainty to progress, he missed a total of 8 match darts in the remaining legs before being defeated 11-9.
  • Huybrechts has made 3 semi-final appearances on the tour this season but perhaps significantly 2 of those semi-final appearances came in the last 2 Players Championship tournaments prior to this tournament, he reached back to back semi-finals on consecutive days.
  • Since making the final at the Players Championship Finals in 2012 he has only made it through to a PDC TV ranking quarter-final on one occasion (this was at last year’s Grand Slam).
  • He has a very recent win to his name against Gerwyn Price, winning their last meeting which was in the quarter-finals of a Players Championship event in early July.

Price

  • Price made his debut at the Matchplay last year and he managed to make it through to the quarter-finals beating Michael Smith and Adrian Lewis before losing to Peter Wright (all 3 are currently amongst the top 8 seeds for this year’s tournament).
  • In the TV tournaments he has played since making the quarter-finals here last year he has struggled to make a good run, in the 5 TV tournaments he has played since then he has only made it through to the Last 16 on 1 occasion. Meaning he has won just 1 of his last 7 matches in big TV ranking tournaments.
  • Price has had an excellent 2016 on the ranking circuit, he won his first ranking tournament in early May and then won again at the next Players Championship event just under 3 weeks later. Aside from those wins he also reached the final of a UK Open qualifier in February.

Verdict

Kim Huybrechts hasn’t had the best of times on the Winter Gardens stage having failed to win a match in his 4 previous attempts, the long that run goes on the tougher it will become to get over the line and we may see some nervy darts if he gets close to the win. Gerwyn Price has made massive strides since joining the tour; he is in the top 32 and keeps rising. Winning two tournaments will have given Price massive confidence and I think he will also have good memories of Blackpool having made the quarters here last year. All in all I think this is a tough match to call, I’m just giving a slight edge to Price but in reality it could go either way and could be decided in extra legs.

 

Jenkins v Pipe

Jenkins

  • Not many players can claim to have as much experience as Terry Jenkins has at the Matchplay, this is his 13th appearance in the tournament and of the current field only Taylor, Wade and Lewis have played more matches.
  • Jenkins has reached the final of the Matchplay on two occasions (2007 and 2009), though since making that final in 2009 he has been beaten in the 1st round 4 times in the last 6 years, only once in that time has he made it further than the Last 16, that was when he reached the semi’s in 2012.
  • On the PDC ranking circuit this season he has made it through to 2 semi-finals, most recently in June at the Austrian Darts Open where he defeated van de Pas and Wright before losing to Michael Smith.
  • Jenkins was a regular in the final stages of TV ranking tournaments but he has only made it further than the Last 16 in 3 of his last 24 TV ranking tournament, he did reach the final on 2 of those occasions though! But it is still 9 tournaments since he reached the quarter-finals of a TV ranking tournament.

Pipe

  • Pipe made his Matchplay debut in 2011 and has featured every year since then meaning this is his 6th appearance at the tournament. He is a 2 time quarter-finalist having reached the final 8 in both 2012 and 2013 (he lost to Baxter in 2012 and Taylor in 2013).
  • He hasn’t made it through the first round in each of the last 2 years, losing 10-8 to Michael Smith in 2014 and 10-7 last year to Jamie Lewis.
  • This is the first time since 2011 that Pipe hasn’t been a seeded player at the World Matchplay. He was as high as 9th seed in 2013.
  • Pipe has failed to make it further than the Last 16 in a big PDC TV ranking tournament since December 2013 at the Players Championship Finals, that is a run of 14 tournaments and he has only appeared in the Last 16 in 3 of those.

Verdict

Both players have lost in the 1st round in each of the last two years so it will be third time lucky for one and the other will be left to rue another early departure. Whilst he isn’t playing to the same levels he was when he was a contender in the major tournaments Jenkins still has the ability to turn it on especially if he finds his range in the treble 20 bed but those occasions aren’t as frequent as they were. Pipe has really been struggling to find consistency himself and needs to rediscover some confidence. I think Jenkins will be the player who ends the run of 1st round Matchplay exits.

 

White v Gurney

White

  • White is appearing in the tournament for the 5th successive year since making his debut in 2012. He has never failed to get past the 1st round in his 4 previous attempts. He reached the Last 16 in 2012, 2013 and 2014, last year he pushed van Gerwen hard in the quarter-finals before losing 16-13.
  • Three of his defeats at the Matchplay came against the number 1 seed (van Gerwen twice and Phil Taylor), his other defeat was against number 6 seed Andy Hamilton in 2013.
  • White has averaged over 100 in each of his last 2 first round matches at the Matchplay. He averaged 101.37 vs Jenkins in 2014 and 103.51 against Bunting last year.
  • On the tour this season he has won 2 ranking tournaments, one in April and one in July (the win in July was in the last ranking tournament before the Matchplay). In his tournament win in April he defeated van Gerwen 6-0 in the final.
  • White made it through to 3 big TV ranking tournament quarter-finals in 2015 and in total has now played in 6 TV ranking quarter-finals, but he has yet to get further than that stage.
  • He was beaten in the first round at the World Championships and at the UK Open.

Gurney

  • This will be Gurney’s World Matchplay debut; he has previously competed at the World Championships, UK Open, World Grand Prix and Players Championship Finals.
  • In 9 previous PDC TV ranking tournaments he has only made it through to the Last 16 on one occasion, which was when he reached the semi-finals at the Players Championship Finals in December 2015.
  • On that run to the semi-finals he beat Kim Huybrechts, Gary Anderson and Benito van de Pas in consecutive matches.
  • 3 of his last 4 defeats in PDC TV tournaments have been against the tournament winner – he lost to Thornton at the Grand Prix, van Gerwen at the Players Championship Finals and Anderson at the World Championships.
  • Gurney reached his first PDC ranking final earlier this year when he lost in the final of the Dutch Darts Masters to Michael van Gerwen, he had beaten Wright, Adrian Lewis and Suljovic to get to the final.

Verdict

This will be a very watchable 1st round match between two players who have had some good results in 2016 and are capable of some high quality darts. Ian White has more experience and has the knowledge he has an excellent 1st round record at the Matchplay. Gurney fears nobody and has proved he enjoys the big stage and can compete with the very best up there. It’s another game that I really believe could go either way, I would make White a small favourite but Gurney has the ability to win this match, his 180 scoring can be relentless when he is in the rhythm. Not sure who will win but looking forward to this game regardless.

 

Now onto the evening session (7pm start)

Wade v King

Wade

  • James Wade’s record at the World Matchplay is 2nd only to Phil Taylor’s. He won the tournament in 2007 and has been runner-up on 5 occasions, including last year when he ended Phil Taylor’s long winning run at the tournament beating him 17-14 in the semi-finals.
  • In 10 previous appearances at the Matchplay Wade has never failed to get as far as the quarter-finals. He has reached the semi-finals 8 times and the final 6 times.
  • Wade has never lost to an unseeded player in this tournament; he has played a total of 18 matches against unseeded players and has won them all.
  • In 9 defeats at the Matchplay 6 of them have been against the number 1 seed, he has only lost 1 match against a player not seeded in the top 4 and that was against 7th seed Ronnie Baxter in 2009.
  • Wade has reached 4 finals during the 2016 season and has won 1 of them; the tournament he won was the European Matchplay where he defeated Gary Anderson, Benito van de Pas, Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall in consecutive matches.
  • His last TV tournament win was when he beat Mervyn King in the final of the 2014 Masters.

King

  • This will be King’s 10th consecutive appearance at the World Matchplay having featured each year since making his debut in 2007 when he made the quarter-finals before losing to Wade. His best showing was a semi-final appearance in 2009.
  • Since reaching the semi’s in 2009 he has only won 1 match at the tournament, meaning he has lost in the 1st round in 6 of the last 7 years.
  • The last time he defeated a seeded player at the Matchplay was in 2007, he beat number 3 seed Lloyd in the opening round and then number 14 seed Andy Jenkins in the Last 16.
  • King has failed to make it through to the Last 16 in any of his last 7 PDC TV ranking tournaments; he has only won 2 of his last 11 in TV ranking tournaments.
  • To reach the final King could have to beat Wade, van Barneveld, Taylor and Anderson He has actually beaten each of those players the last time they have met.

Verdict

Wade loves the World Matchplay; ever since he made the final on his first appearance in 2006 he has looked at home on the Winter Gardens stage and always goes into the event with great confidence. Wade has had good preparation for the event in the World Series events having beaten van Gerwen, Anderson and Taylor recently. King has slipped out of the top 16 and isn’t playing often enough at the same standard he is capable of, his recent record at the Matchplay isn’t good and with a tough draw here things aren’t getting easier. I expect Wade to keep up his unbeaten record in the 1st Round at the Matchplay.

 

Lewis v Webster

Lewis

  • Lewis is returning to the World Matchplay for the 12th time having made his debut back in 2005 when he defeat 8th seed Kevin Painter in the 1st round, 9th seed Denis Ovens in the Last 16 before losing to eventual champion and number 1 seed Colin Lloyd in the final.
  • His best run at the Matchplay was in 2013 when he reached the final having won an epic semi-final 17-15 against van Gerwen, he was beaten by Taylor in the final 18-13 despite averaging over 105.
  • Only twice has he failed to get through the 1st round, the last time was in 2010 when he was beaten by Mark Webster.
  • Lewis has only failed to get through to the Last 16 in a TV ranking tournament 2 times in his last 23 TV ranking tournaments played.
  • He has won a ranking tournament this season, and also finished on the winning side in the World Cup having partnered Phil Taylor to victory against van Gerwen and van Barneveld.

Webster

  • Webster is making his 5th Matchplay appearance and is back at the tournament for the first time since 2013 when he lost to Justin Pipe in the opening round.
  • In his 3 appearances prior to 2013 he had won his first round match each time, his best showing was reaching the quarter-finals in 2011 when he lost to Adrian Lewis.
  • Webster also played Adrian Lewis at the Matchplay in 2010 in the first round, Webster won 11-9.
  • The win against Lewis was the only win Webster has had against a seeded player at the World Matchplay.
  • Webster has reached the Last 16 in 4 of his last 5 TV ranking tournaments, including reaching the semi-finals at the 2015 Grand Prix (where he beat Lewis in the 1st round), the quarter-finals at the 2015 Grand Slam and the quarter-finals at the 2016 UK Open.

Verdict

Adrian Lewis comes into the tournament in decent form having had some good results in the World Series events, notably when he reached the final of the Auckland Masters. He has a good record at making it through the first round at the Matchplay too. Mark Webster has shown some good darts in the recent TV ranking tournaments he has played and wouldn’t have been an easy draw for any seeded player. I think Webster will push Lewis at times but Lewis will just have too much and will pull away at the end to book his place in round two.

 

Anderson v Norris

Anderson

  • This is Anderson’s 8th appearance at the Matchplay with his best performance being a semi-final appearance in 2014 when he just lost out 17-15 to Taylor having averaged over 105.
  • That semi-final appearance was the only time Anderson has been further than the Last 16 at the tournament, having exited the tournament 4 times in the Last 16 (including last year to Suljovic).
  • Anderson’s record against unseeded players at the Matchplay isn’t the best, he has played 7 matches against non-seeds and has lost 4 times.
  • He does come into the tournament in excellent form having won the Dubai Masters, Auckland Masters and Japan Darts Masters all in the last couple of months. He has lost just 2 of his last 15 matches on TV.
  • 5 of his last 6 major ranking match defeats have been against players currently ranked outside the top 10 in the PDC Order of Merit.

Norris

  • This will be his first appearance at the World Matchplay; since he moved across to the PDC at the start of 2015 he has featured in the UK Open, European Championship, Players Championship Finals and the World Championships.
  • Norris won his first PDC ranking title last October and reached another final earlier this year when he lost to van Gerwen in the final of a UK Open qualifier. He defeated Anderson in the semi-final on his way to winning his first title.
  • A former BDO World Championship runner-up Norris went all the way to the quarter-finals on his debut at the PDC World Championships, his run was ended in a 5-4 thriller against Klaasen.

Verdict

World Champion Gary Anderson faces a tough test against the impressive Alan Norris who has made excellent progress up the ranking since joining the PDC. Both players like to play at a quick pace so this should be a rapid match and hopefully a top standard one. Anderson has looked very good in the recent World Series events and his confidence and focus appear to be spot on. Norris would have hoped for an easier draw but realistically he has nothing to lose and should be under no pressure. I think Anderson will get through in what is a difficult first rounder.

 

Wright v Cullen

Wright

  • Wright has competed at the Matchplay 5 times previously but had only won 1 match prior to last year when he went all the way to the semi-finals before losing to van Gerwen.
  • Interestingly both of Wright’s only 2 wins in the 1st round at the Matchplay both came against Kim Huybrechts, last year Wright produced the performance of the 1st round when he averaged 108.13.
  • Wright has only failed to get through to the Last 16 in 1 of his last 12 TV ranking tournaments.
  • He reached the final of the most recent TV ranking tournament the UK Open back in March (on his way he defeated Cullen in the quarters), that was his 3rd major TV ranking tournament final appearance.
  • Wright hadn’t enjoyed good results in the recent World Series tournaments; he failed to progress past the quarter-finals in any of the 4 World Series events.

Cullen

  • Cullen is making his 2nd World Matchplay appearance having made his debut back in 2012 he returns after a 4 year absence.
  • In the 2012 tournament on his debut he lost 10-4 to 12th seed Justin Pipe in the first round.
  • His other experience of big TV ranking tournaments have been at the World Championships and the UK Open, he had his best run in one at the UK Open this year when he reached the quarter-finals, beating Norris and Bunting on the way before losing to Peter Wright.
  • On the tour he has made the final in 2 ranking tournaments this season, the most recent at the final event before this tournament and the other final was only in May. Besides those 2 finals he has also reached 2 semi-finals and 3 quarter-finals.

Verdict

A year ago this might have been seen as an easy draw for Wright but Cullen has shown over the past 10 months that his game is very much on the up and his performances on tour have been very good, when they met in the quarter-finals at the UK Open Wright won 10-7 so not a lot in it on that occasion. Wright has undoubted ability but the tendency to change his darts doesn’t appear to be helping his consistency. Cullen can be prolific on 180’s and if he gets in early Wright could be in for a tough game. I do think Wright will edge through but it won’t be easy.

 

That’s it for the Sunday preview’s – enjoy the darts!

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