After one year away due to COVID-19, the second biggest major darts tournament of the season is upon us! A 32-player field consisting of sixteen players from the PDC Order of Merit and sixteen qualifiers from the one-year ProTour Order of Merit will battle for the Betfred World Matchplay Championship in Blackpool, England, for a piece of £700,000 in prize money. The event will take place over nine days spanning July 17 through July 25 and consists of a bracket-style tournament similar to the NCAA Basketball tournament.
Here is a look at the first-round matchups:
- (1) Gerwyn Price v Jermaine Wattimena
- (16) Jonny Clayton v Dirk van Duijvenbode
- (8) Dimitri Van den Bergh v Devon Petersen
- (9) Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort
- (4) James Wade v Luke Humphries
- (13) Krzysztof Ratajski v Brendan Dolan
- (5) Rob Cross v Ross Smith
- (12) Glen Durrant v Callan Rydz
- (2) Peter Wright v Danny Noppert
- (15) Joe Cullen v Chris Dobey
- (7) Michael Smith v Ryan Searle
- (10) Jose de Sousa v Gabriel Clemens
- (3) Michael van Gerwen v Damon Heta
- (14) Daryl Gurney v Ian White
- (6) Gary Anderson v Stephen Bunting
- (11) Nathan Aspinall v Mervyn King
Please check back as we’ll continue to update this post with my latest predictions for this tournament.
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Round 1 Matchups – Saturday, July 17
Dave Chisnall (-225) v. Vincent van der Voort
The first match of this year’s World Matchplay is between two darts veterans, as World No. 9 Dave “Chizzy” Chisnall takes on “The Dutch Destroyer” Vincent van der Voort, the No. 27 ranked player in the world. Chizzy has the highest treble 20 accuracy and highest cover shot accuracy on the planet in televised matches over the last twelve months. Over the course of thirteen televised matches in the UK Open, Masters, World Championship, Players Championship, and Grand Slam tournaments, Chizzy’s lowest treble 20 percentage comes in at 38.67%, with his highest coming in at 54.08%. Rarely does he dip below 40%.
With first-round matches being a race to ten legs (best of 19), I expect Chizzy’s scoring to be too much for van der Voort to overcome. And while The Dutch Destroyer defeated Chisnall in their most recent televised match in this very event two years ago, Chizzy holds a 7-4 career record against van der Voort and otherwise had not lost to him since 2017. I like Chizzy to come out on top in this one.
Dimitri van den Bergh v. Devon Petersen
Player to score the most 180s – Dimitri van den Bergh (-115)
World Matchplay defending champion World No. 8 Dimitri “DreamMaker” van den Bergh comes into this year’s event in good form, snagging a Pro Tour victory back in April and averaging over 100 in the 2021 Premier League. In fact, his average across all events in 2021 is an impressive 97.81, placing him fifth in the world in terms of pure average. DreamMaker showed throughout the Premier League he can hit 180s, coming in second only to Jose de Sousa for most 180s in the table.
World No. 25 Devon “The African Warrior” Petersen has looked out of sorts throughout his 2021 campaign. He reached the quarterfinal in the UK Open but has not finished better than the last 32 in any event since. In his last ten events, he has lost in the first round five times, lost in the second round three times, and lost in the third round twice.
Van den Bergh is listed at (-300) to win this match, which I fully believe he will. But I prefer to save the juice and take (-115) for most 180s in a match. I expect the DreamMaker to dominate.
And as a potential sweetener, BetMGM offers a Saturday Special – Player to score the most 180s. Dimitri van den Bergh is listed at (+400).
If van den Bergh is dialed, as I expect him to be, then he’s certainly a favorite to win this prop. The one match that scares me a touch is Jonny Clayton v. Dirk van Duijvenbode, as I anticipate a tightly contested match between these two titans. If a match goes the distance, obviously a player has more opportunities to hit 180s. But scared money doesn’t make money, and based on van den Bergh’s performance throughout his 2021 campaign, I will be sprinkling a bit on him to win this prop at that price.
Round 1 Matchups – Sunday, July 18
Callan Rydz -2.5 legs (-145) v. Glen Durrant
Despite being ranked No. 54 in the world, 23-year old Callan “The Riot” Rydz is one of darts best up-and-comers. Rydz took down PDC Players Championship 2 back in February of this year, absolutely dominating his way to the finals defeating Jeff Smith 6-0, Ian White 6-1, and Nathan Aspinall 7-2. In the final, he defeated darts hottest player, Jonny Clayton, by a score of 8-7.
World No. 12 Glen “Duzza” Durrant has looked a shell of himself since winning the 2020 Premier League. In the 2021 Premier League, Duzza failed to win a match or record a single draw, finishing in last place with an 0-0-9 record. Duzza lost in the first round eight times in his last ten events and lost in the second round twice.
This draw is also likely considered the softest section of the bracket, with the winner of this match taking on the winner of Rob Cross vs. Ross Smith. I think Rydz has a legitimate chance to come out of this section of the bracket and reach the semifinals. To do so, he must first get through Duzza, and as he displayed in Players Championship 2, when he’s on form, he can absolutely bury his opponents. Going with Rydz to cover the 2.5 leg spread at (-145).
(Photo of Dave Chiswell by Zac Goodwin / Getty Images; The Athletic may receive an affiliate commission if you open an account with BetMGM through links contained in the above article.)