Surely the PDC World Matchplay can’t keep getting better.
Yet another night of incredible quality and drama means a ceiling has been reached – or so you’d think. A thrilling Thursday began with Jeffrey de Zwaan making Dave Chisnall his third high-ranking victim in Blackpool. It ended with a bona fide World Matchplay classic. Gary Anderson, after notching a nine-darter, was pushed all the way by Joe Cullen. But there could be only one winner. Cullen, who missed two match darts, moves into the PDC’s top 16. Anderson moves into the semi-finals. The Flying Scotsman will meet the flying Dutchman. Now the rest of the final four must be identified.
Friday’s session kicks off with two players who battled through grudge matches to reach this stage. Peter Wright made good on some acerbic comments made before his meeting with Kim Huybrechts. His tournament-high 105.6 average in that game, plus the fact he is both the highest seed and the one remaining ex-finalist in the Matchplay, means he should now be considered the favourite.
Simon Whitlock will have something to say about that, though. After dismissing long-time foe James Wade, the Wizard wants to return to the semi-finals of the World Matchplay for the first time since 2014. The pair battled for seventh spot in the Premier League mere months ago. This quarter-final tie at the Winter Gardens seems a bit bigger.
Three of the four quarter-finalists going head-to-head on Friday are the highest seeds in their half of the draw. The one missing link is the world champion, Rob Cross. That’s because he couldn’t account for Darren Webster, whose stock continues to grow. It’s very easy to see the Demolition Man heading to the Ally Pally in December as part of the world’s top ten. A semi-final berth here, or better, would take him a long way towards that goal.
Standing between him and a semi-final of the World Matchplay is Mensur Suljovic. Having won the Champions League and German Darts Masters, two big events, he’ll feel that a major win would be the next step up. There’s a long way to go before such dreams are realised, however. One thing that is for sure is that one player will break a bad habit. Webster lost in the quarter-finals in 2017, Suljovic in both 2017 and 2015 before that. Neither have progressed further. For one of them, it’s time to take a step into the unknown.
Quarter-Finals World Matchplay
Thursday July 26
Jeffrey de Zwaan (103.22) 16-8 (99.05) Dave Chisnall
Joe Cullen (95.26) 17-19 (97.13) Gary Anderson
Friday July 27
19:10 Mensur Suljovic v Darren Webster
20:45 Peter Wright v Simon Whitlock
Author: Ed McCosh