Darts World Matchplay Preview Round 1

2022 Cazoo Premier League Darts at Mercedes-Benz-Arena Berlin

It feels like forever since we have had a (meaningful) major darts tournament live on TV, and that is soon to change when we get underway on the seaside at Blackpool next weekend. The match play format on the famous Winter Gardens stage is one of the best spectacles on the darting calendar and that will be no different when the tungsten hits the sisal on the 15th of July.

Quarter 1:

The standout pairing when all is said and done points towards Michael Smith v Nathan Aspinall. Smith has recently broken the unwritten rule (which we have all broken…) and got himself some new tungsten. How will this affect one of the biggest 180 hitters on the tour? Only time will tell.

Bully Boy has finally got rid of the ‘nearly man’ tag and was becoming very Jimmy White-esque by becoming the bridesmaid at the big events. But, to write off the World #1, World Champion and Grand Slam Champ? Not for me. Smith to win Quarter 1.

Quarter 2:

This quarter has the potential to be an absolute barnstormer. Everyone’s eyes are locked on one thing. Price v Anderson. The Flying Scotsman and The Iceman need no introduction after that very infamous episode at the Grand Slam in 2018. Gary Anderson has had a resurgence this year and that will be music to the ears of many of his fans. Gary won his first PDC Event in March after 3 long years – Players Championship 13, followed by another PC final & The World Cup of Darts runners up spot last month.

Gerwyn Price gets to the business end of what feels like every single tournament. The Iceman is one of the game’s premier match players and will be looking to add that trophy to his ever-growing collection on the 23rd and you would do a good job to argue against it.

Price and Anderson are the top 2 on the averages list from January to this point which only adds to the rivalry; 99.23 for Gerwyn and 98.15 for Gary. If I was forced to give a winner for Q2 I would have to edge for The Welshman.

Gerwyn Price to win Quarter 2.

Quarter 3

It feels very strange to look at a Quarter and not back one of the greatest players the sport has seen in recent times. Peter Wright has lacked that killer instinct in the last year or so and only has a win percentage of 46.55% from 2023 onwards. For Snakebite to come through an incredibly strong quarter would be a shock it has to be said. In fact, his first game against Andrew Gilding is a horrible opponent for him first game. Goldfinger has a far better win percentage than Peter this year and boasts a higher average from January onwards. A potential shock could be on the cards for this game.

The rest of the quarter includes Van Den Bergh (a former winner of this event), Van Barneveld (a 5-time World champ), Clayton, Searle, Clemens, and R. Smith. You could probably make a case for any of these players to come through.

Some of these players are more reliant on their finishing and some are more reliant on their scoring. Jonny Clayton is somewhere in between. A very good scorer and an excellent finisher. Law of averages would point to The Ferret’s game to come through this minefield.

Jonny Clayton to win quarter 3, but I say that very tentatively.

Quarter 4

When I looked at this quarter the first thing that jumped out was the power scoring in this section. These guys love the power scoring and certainly know where the red bit is. One thing is for sure. This section will see the most 180’s and it won’t even be close.  

Trying to pick a winner from this section has led me to look at the opposite of the scoring. Who has the bottle? Who has the composure? Who’s finishing can hold up on that sticky stage in 30 odd degrees in a decider?

Michael Van Gerwen and Luke Humphries for me. MVG has been here and picked up the trophy 3 times before. He is the defending champion from last years edition. He will certainly have something to say about who is taking his trophy home from Blackpool.

Luke Humphries goes from strength to strength and his average up until this point for the year proves that. 98.12 with only Price and Anderson bettering that. Cool Hand Luke picked up yet another Euro Tour on Sunday which can only go down as the perfect preparation for the big one (Not the ride as Pleasure Beach) come next week. Humphries or Van Gerwen for the last quarter? I want to go Humphries. But I just cannot go against the Green Machine. Michael Van Gerwen to come through a fantastic quarter and win the section.

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