The PDC World Matchplay returns to the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, on Saturday as 32 of the best darts players on the planet do battle for the Phil Taylor Trophy.
Reigning Matchplay champion Dimitri Van Den Bergh will be joined by 31 other arrowsmiths, including Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright and world champion Gerwyn Price.
MVG Due Some Joy
Van Gerwen shades favouritism at
9/2 in a tightly-packed betting market with Price second in at
5/1 and the red-hot Jose de Sousa third-favourite at
7/1. Peter Wright,
8/1 in the market, is the last player quoted at single-figure odds for the title.
Van Gerwen is a two-time winner of the event, but he managed to take home only five titles in 2020, his worst haul since 2011. MVG is also yet to win a title this season and odds for him stopping the rot in Blackpool seem short enough given his struggles to recapture his former dominance.
World Champion Price is another player who has yet to produce his best darts this year.
The Welshman has won just one of 16 events since his triumph at Alexandra Palace in January and he does not have a good record in this event with a run to the quarter-finals in 2015 his best showing.
Portuguese star De Sousa has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the PDC ranks in the past couple of years, winning his first major title at the Grand Slam in 2020 before reaching the final of the 2021 Premier League.
The Special One been in sublime nick this season, reaching at least the semi-finals in five of his last seven Players Championship events, winning twice in that run.
Returning champion Van den Bergh is priced up at
12/1 and clearly enjoys the Matchplay format as he won the title on his debut in Milton Keynes last year.
Rising Star Rydz Looks Too Strong For Duzza
The first round pits the 16 seeded players against the 16 qualifiers from the PDC Tour of Merit and there are a number of intriguing match-ups on the menu, including seventh seed Michael Smith taking on Ryan Searle on Sunday night.
Smith was a beaten finalist at this event two years ago, but Bully Boy faces a tricky opponent in Searle who arrives at the Winter Gardens in good form.
Heavy Metal averaged 99.83 across the four days of Players Championships 17-20 and has been on the edge of a breakout performance at a Major for some time.
This year’s World Matchplay could be that tournament, so the
5/4 about him getting off to a winning start is inviting.
In another tight encounter, it may be worth backing Daryl Gurney to overcome Ian White.
Gurney is a two-time semi -finalist at the World Matchplay and has been playing consistently of late, leaving him at
10/11 to see off White.
A short-priced favourite who may be worth siding with is Callan Rydz at
4/13, when he takes on three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant.
Durrant is the seeded player, but he has been woefully out of form this season, losing in the first round in eight of his last nine Players Championship tournaments.
Rydz is a rising star in the PDC and can compound Durrant’s misery.
*All odds correct at time of writing