The first two days of PDC World Matchplay action have proved that no seed is safe.
Granted, only two seeds have gone out so far. But one of the two was the PDC world number one, Michael van Gerwen. Gerwyn Price is gone. Adrian Lewis and Daryl Gurney hung on by the skin of their teeth. Even Gary Anderson, now the World Matchplay favourite, needed to come from behind. The next four ties in Blackpool, on Monday evening, certainly aren’t foregone conclusions.
Kim Huybrechts definitely is no clear favorite. In 2012, he went to the Winter Gardens and lost in the first round. In 2013, he repeated the trick. Then again in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. With six appearances and six defeats, he’s a loss away from having the worst World Matchplay record of all time.
He could be facing a more formidable foe than John Henderson. Yet a lot of people have written off the Highlander at their peril. In his last two major appearances, Henderson has seen off Michael van Gerwen, Alan Norris, Raymond van Barneveld and Daryl Gurney. The rocking Scot could well rock Huybrechts and make unwanted history for his Belgian foe.
The second tie features a man Huybrechts helped into the Matchplay. A European Darts Matchplay win over Chris Dobey for the Hurricane all but secured Richard North’s place. He ended up sitting through a nerve-wracking final between William O’Connor and Michael van Gerwen, but the Irishman’s loss was his gain. First up for Northy is Simon Whitlock, who reached the semi-finals in 2010 and 2014. Perhaps a pattern is emerging for the Wizard.
One more for Wade?
James Wade is the one player left in the Matchplay who has won it before. The 2007 champion faces a debutant, Jermaine Wattimena. The fast-flinging Dutchman has been building up steam on the European Tour. Wade, too, has played well in Europe, and has taken that form to the World Series. There are a lot of people backing the Machine to make the final. With van Gerwen gone, his hopes of a second title in Blackpool have grown exponentially.
With Mighty Mike gone, Peter Wright is now the highest seed left in the tournament. Last year’s finalist will want to go a step further, but first he’ll have to deal with Jelle Klaasen. The 2010 quarter-finalist has lost in the first round on his other five trips to Blackpool. The odds are definitely against him here. But if the Black Cobra can cause a shock, perhaps the Cobra can too.
Monday session schedule:
19:10 Kim Huybrechts v John Henderson
20:10 Simon Whitlock v Richard North
21:10 James Wade v Jermaine Wattimena
22:10 Peter Wright v Jelle Klaasen
Author: Ed McCosh