The second biggest major in darts gets underway on Saturday as Peter Wright looks to defend his PDC Darts World Matchplay crown.
Running from Saturday, July 16 until Sunday, July 24 at the iconic Winter Gardens in Blackpool, 32 of the world’s top darters will be looking to take the Phil Taylor Trophy away from Snakebite but who is the most likely?
In order to make the best predictions, the first thing to understand is how the tournament actually works.
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The tournament is made up of 32 players who are divided into four groups of four. These are the top 16 players on the PDC Order of Merrit who will each take on one of 16 unseeded ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers.
First-round matches are played in a first to 10 legs format, while second-round games are played as first to 11 legs. Following this, the quarter-finals are played as first to 16 legs, with the Semi-Finals first to 17 and the final first to 18.
So, let’s start with the first group and take a look at the latest odds from the Bet365 online sportsbook.
Group One (bet365 darts betting odds)
Seeding In Brackets
- (1) Peter Wright (2/9) v (10/3) Madars Razma
- (16) Krzysztof Ratajski (8/11) v (11/10) Stephen Bunting
- (8) Jonny Clayton (2/7) v (11/4) Rowby-John Rodriguez
- (9) Dimitri Van den Bergh (1/2) v (13/8) Callan Rydz
Defending champion Peter Wright is just about considered to be the favourite to make it through this quarter ahead of Jonny Clayton.
That is largely due to the fact that The Ferret is likely to face the 2019 champion Dimitri Van den Bergh or even World Championship quarter-finalist Callan Rydz in the second round. Whereas Snakebite should face off against Krzysztof Ratajski should he himself overcome Stephen Bunting.
Even if The Bullet makes it past the Polish Eagle, that is still a tough enough game in itself, but one that shouldn’t faze the world number one.
Van den Bergh, however, has recently picked his game back up, taking down two World Series titles in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
The Dream Maker dominated both events and is a player who’s won the World Matchplay before.
He was also one of the star performers here last year and was unlucky to finish runner up to an even better Peter Wright.
Another deep run is expected.
Clayton should also breeze through his first game but that’s where things get tougher.
Also, The Ferret is still to win a title of any kind this season, which is surprising given how many he won last year and how well he played during the Darts Premier League.
As for Wright, he starts his campaign off against a player that he has beaten six times out of six in Madars Razma.
That should be a forgone conclusion, but the world champion has been incredibly inconsistent of late and even missed out on a place in the Premier League the play offs.
While he should make the last eight, I wouldn’t back him to reach the semis.
Group Two (bet365 darts betting odds)
Seeding In Brackets
- (4) Michael van Gerwen (1/3) v (12/5) Adrian Lewis
- (13) Joe Cullen (11/8) v (4/7) Damon Heta
- (5) James Wade (2/5) v (2/1) Martin Lukeman
- (12) Luke Humphries (8/15) v (6/4) Nathan Aspinall
The next quarter looks a lot like it will be the tournament’s groups of death.
Six of the players involved have a combined tally of 18 titles between them already this season. Plus, one of the two remaining players without a title is James Wade.
Of the rest, Michael van Gerwen has won the most this year with six, one of which was darts third biggest tournament, the Premier League.
Incredibly, that was his first major trophy since 2019 and he will be hoping that it will help him return to the kind of form that saw him dominate not so long ago.
The main concern is that, since then, he has undergone surgery on his injured throwing arm has only played once when losing to Danny Noppert in the Dutch Darts Masters.
Mighty Mike is up against former two-time world champion Adrian Lewis in a mouth-watering first-round match.
The Green Machine has won 43 of their past 61 matches but Jackpot won his first PDC title in years at the weekend so will be confident he can spring a surprise at the Winter Gardens.
It’s a tough call with so much talent in this group but Luke Humphries is the next call to make it through to the next round.
His confidence should be soaring following a superb first half of the season where he has won five titles.
Then we have Joe Cullen taking on 2019 Brisbane Darts Masters champion Damon Heta.
The Australian won the recent World Cup of Darts alongside Simon Whitlock which, when you think of what impact winning a World Cup had on Jonny Clayton, makes The Heat a threat.
The Wizard even went on to say that his partner will go on to be a future World Champion.
However, Premier League of Darts runner-up Joe Cullen, who was one dart away from picking up his second televised title of the year a month ago, is also enjoying a brilliant year and could easily come out on top.
The other game of the group is James Wade and Martin Lukeman which, if he plays to best, The Machine should win.
However, this long leg format doesn’t particularly suit his game and although, he usually manages to stick around in a tournament until the latter stages, this time it could be different.
Group Three (bet365 darts betting odds)
Seeding In Brackets
- (2) Gerwyn Price (2/5) v (2/1) Martin Schindler
- (15) Dave Chisnall (1/2) v (13/8) Kim Huybrechts
- (7) José de Sousa (8/11) v (11/10) Gabriel Clemens
- (10) Rob Cross (4/7) v (11/8) Chris Dobey
Because he is having such a disappointing season by his own sky high standards, Gerwyn Price will be relieved to find himself in what is statistically the weakest quarter in the competition.
Back in February when he sent in two nine dart finishes on the same night in Belfast, The Iceman looked like he was getting back to his best.
But since then things haven’t really being going well for him including missing out on the Premier League play offs as well as a nasty hand injury.
Martin Schindler is a tough opening opponent but one that Price should overcome.
Rob Cross and Dave Chisnall are the biggest threats to The Iceman in this quarter.
Group Four (bet365 darts betting odds)
- (3) Michael Smith v Andrew Gilding
- (14) Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ryan Searle
- (6) Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney
- (11) Danny Noppert v Brendan Dolan
Third seed Michael Smith should make it out of this one with relative ease.
True, there are still some top names in this group, a few of which have won more than he has, but he is a top act when in full flow.
He also heads to Blackpool in good spirits given that he recently won the US Darts Masters and a European Tour crown in the Netherlands.
Bully Boy is still seeking his maiden major trophy after losing in finals of the UK Open and World Championship and even after suffering a disappointing Premier League campaign, he finally landed a night win when it looked like he wouldn’t before picking up another three titles.
Given Blackpool’s proximity to St Helens, this would be a fitting venue for Bully Boy to finally get the monkey of his back and break his duck.
The Winter Gardens was also one of the settings of Smith’s seven major final defeats when he lost 18-13 to Rob Cross back in 2019.
Elsewhere in the group, Daryl Gurney is up against Gary Anderson.
This is another one that is tough to call given that, despite being the seeded player, The Flying Scotsman, has really struggled this season.
Plus, Daryl Gurney has a good record in televised matches against his opponent so I will take on Superchin in this match.
This is Smith’s quarter to lose.
2022 Darts World Matchplay Outright Winner Odds (bet365)
- Michael van Gerwen – 11/2
- Jonny Clayton – 13/2
- Gerwyn Price – 7/1
- Peter Wright – 8/1
- Luke Humphries – 10/1
- Michael Smith -10/1
- Dimitri van Den Bergh – 12/1
- Rob Cross – 18/1
- Danny Noppert – 20/1
- Joe Cullen – 22/1
- Damon Heta – 22/1
- Dirk van Duijenbode – 22/1
- James Wade – 28/1
- Nathan Aspinall – 28/1
- Dave Chisnall 28/1
QUICK GLANCE AT THE
Venue: The Winter Gardens, Blackpool
Dates: Saturday 16 – Sunday 24 July
Format: First to 11, 16, 17 and 18 legs.
Current Champion: Peter Wright
Where To Watch: Sky Sports Main Event HD & Sky Sports Arena HD
When To Watch: 19:00 UK