Mark Webster added to the PDC World Matchplay build-up by explaining what the Blackpool showcase means to players.

The World Matchplay is considered by most to be the PDC’s second-biggest event, after the World Championship. Webster, a quarter-finalist in 2011, pointed out that even arriving at the Winter Gardens is monumental for any player.

“It was just a sense of achievement, qualifying for the Matchplay,” the Spider told Live Darts.

“You’ve got to really perform. And when you go there, the 32 players are in form – you’ve got the top 16 in the world, and the top 16 qualifiers from the Pro Tour Order of Merit.

“So you’ve got to have achieved something to get there.”

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

“Players love it”

It’s not uncommon to hear a player discussing the World Matchplay as a key part of their plans for the season. That is even the case for players newly arriving on the scene – as evidenced by Glen Durrant, who will be making his Blackpool debut.

“The players love it. You listen to Glen Durrant, he crossed over and went ‘I want to get into the Matchplay’.

“He was saying to me on the floor: ‘what will get me into the Matchplay?’ I said ‘Don’t worry Glen, you’re in!'” Webster recalled.

“The players love it and it brings out the best in them.”

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Big names

The Welshman, who will be continuing his punditry work for Sky Sports at the World Matchplay, focused his attention on Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson. Van Gerwen is a two-time World Matchplay winner, but has not won the tournament since 2016. Anderson, meanwhile, took the title last year, also hitting a nine-darter en route. He is back to full fitness at the perfect time.

“When he lost to Jeffrey [de Zwaan] last year, he didn’t perform,” Webster said of Van Gerwen.

“He knows that. He’ll be determined this year.

“That’s what’s scary, the guy hasn’t won it for two years, he’s not defending any sort of money and he’s still comfortably number one.

“Good to see Gary playing again. He was proper, super chilled last week as well. He’s back defending his title.

“Regardless of his fitness, he just looks happy. A happy Gary Anderson is going to play well.”

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Author: Ed McCosh