The World Matchplay gets underway on July 20th, and it remains one of the most competitive and entertaining events on the PDC Tour. Gary Anderson goes into this year's tournament as defending champion, but with a number of talented debutants in the field, we may see some surprises along the way. We look at three potential outsiders, each of whom will be hoping to spring a surprise at Winter Gardens.
The 33-year-old west midlander will come into this tournament as one of the most in-form players in the country. His superb victory over Stephen Bunting at the Czech Open was his maiden honour on the tour, and it also helped him book his place at the World Matchplay, ahead of James Wilson. He is one of seven first-timers in the field, and will be full of confidence coming into this tournament. He also dispatched the experienced Simon Whitlock en-route to his success in Prague, and is unlikely to be overawed by the occasion. The tournament tends to be dominated by the bigger names although there were a number of shocks 12 months ago, including Michael van Gerwen's first-round defeat to fellow Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Daryl Gurney is a shorter price than the aforementioned Jamie Hughes, but it could be worth backing the Northern Irishman for success in Blackpool. 'Super Chin' has been dealt a relatively kind draw, avoiding Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross and James Wade until the latter stages of the tournament. When you bet on darts at Paddy Power, Gurney is 16/1 to prevail on the north-west coast, and he will be hoping to reach the final four at the very least. He reached the semi-final of the World Matchplay in 2017, but failed to make it beyond last 16 12 months ago.
Although he is a little inconsistent overall, Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan did make the headlines at this event last year. His remarkable run to the semi-finals appears to be an anomaly, although he could thrive once again on the electric atmosphere inside this iconic venue. He failed to make it beyond the last 64 of the UK Open, but did make it through to the last 16 of the World Grand Prix at the end of 2018. The 'Black Cobra' has failed to build upon his success in Blackpool last year, but this could be his chance to shine once again. He is a relative long shot at 50/1, although there is a horses-for-courses element to the sport, and some players tend to save their best performances for specific tournaments.
🙌 The noise from the huge Rotterdam crowd that greets this 151 checkout from Jeffrey de Zwaan!pic.twitter.com/2dHBii8rB4— Sporting Life (@SportingLife) March 28, 2019
With a number of debutantes in the field, a handful of shocks are expected at this year's tournament. With MVG putting in some below-par performances so far this year, and doubts over Gary Anderson's fitness, this could be the ideal opportunity for an underdog to step up and make the most of the opportunity. The World Matchplay is likely to thrill darts fans once again, and it looks set to be a suitably competitive seven days beside the seaside.