Watch the World Matchplay live on Sky Sports Action from 6pm
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 18/07/20 4:58pm
When scanning over James Wade’s illustrious career, his showings at one competition in particular stand out above the rest.
‘The Machine’ has one World Matchplay title to his name, and has reached the final on five other occasions.
So what is about the summertime tournament that brings out the best in the left-hander?
“It’s my favourite format,” he told The Darts Show podcast.
“It was my favourite tournament. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to think of it this year, with where it’s being held. Obviously with no crowd, it’s just going to be different.
“The Winter Gardens [in Blackpool] to me is a special venue, and the last of the old darts venues. So it’s a shame this year that it’s not going to be there, but hopefully next year it will return back to where it should be.”
“In my opinion it’s the best format in the world,” he continued.
“It’s a true reflection of how you’re playing. It’s not like sets – sets are a lost world in my opinion because you can win more legs and lose the game. I never understood that.
“Match format is the best format. You’re first to a certain amount of legs and that’s it, it’s done.
“In sets you can play like a game-play, you can rest back and let that set go. And then come back when it’s your throw. But match-format, you can’t hide.”
[In set-play] you can win more legs and lose the game. I never understood that.
Wade prefers match-format
’10 hours’ practice in the three months!’
The 37-year-old comes into the competition in a rich vein of form, having picked up a title at last week’s Summer Series.
It was naturally pleasing to hit the ground running in the sport’s restart, but it came as somewhat of a surprise.
World Matchplay – Saturday’s matches
|(16) Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce|
|(13) Krzysztof Ratajski v Jermaine Wattimena|
|(9) James Wade v Keegan Brown|
|(1) Michael van Gerwen v Brendan Dolan|
|(8) Gary Anderson v Justin Pipe|
|from 6pm, Sky Sports Action|
“I’m someone who doesn’t practice a great deal. I probably did about 10 hours’ practice in the three months! And then I went back this week very cold, and it seemed to pretty much take off,” he said.
“So I think that’s done me good. I was worried, because I hardly touched darts in three months. A lot of players had been doing a lot of online tournaments, practising online against each other. But for me it was an excuse not to play darts.
“I’m enjoying myself, getting into family life, spending a lot of time with Arthur and Samantha.
“It was a relief when I got to the venue and I started playing darts, and I was still hitting doubles, still hitting trebles. And on the fourth day to win one was just, ‘you can still play even though you’ve had three months off’. So it was a good positive for me.
“It was nice. Just nice to tick the box again, to know you can still do it. The standard was good over that day, from what I was told. It just reassures you, and puts a few things to rest.”
For now it is back to the grind for ‘The Machine’, after a few months away from the game.
“It was lovely,” he said of the break. “I think it was almost cruel – it gave me a taste of retirement!
“I love being away from darts, I love being at home and doing normal stuff.
“It was almost torturous – you spent all this time at home and all I was thinking was, ‘I have to get back’.
“But I realise how lucky I am to have to go back to the job I’ve got. But it was lovely being at home. I loved it. Absolutely loved it.”
Nine days of World Matchplay coverage from the Marshall Arena gets underway from Saturday and will run through until the final on Sunday, July 26.