Let’s forget that Monday morning is looming. There’s a lot of World Matchplay magic to come between now and then.

A source of a lot of 2018’s World Matchplay magic opens the Sunday evening session at the Winter Gardens. Jeffrey de Zwaan was pitted against Michael van Gerwen – and stunned the top seed. Adrian Lewis was next to be felled, and then eighth seed Dave Chisnall. The Black Cobra made the semi-finals on debut, providing the feel-good story of the darting summer.

The young Dutchman will be the underdog once again in the 2019 tournament. He faces the eighth seed, James Wade, in round one. The Machine reached the World Matchplay at 23 – the age de Zwaan is now – and won it the year after. Blackpool hasn’t been as kind since then. Perhaps that will change this time around.

The winner of the session’s first game will play the winner of the second. Mensur Suljovic will be desperate to fill that slot. As last year’s runner-up, the only way the Austrian can step things up is by going all the way. He’s good enough, but will need to find his best game.

He faces a tricky foe in the opening round. Jermaine Wattimena’s fast-flinging style may be disrupted a bit by Suljovic’s more languid approach. The fact that he’s lost every single competitive meeting with The Gentle suggests so. But the Machine Gun has the firepower to turn that record on its head.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Nostalgia tie for MVG

The date is 25 July, 2012. Inexplicably, former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff has joined Messrs Gwynne and Waddell in the Sky Sports gantry. And Michael van Gerwen’s looking to take a 5-4 lead against Steve Beaton.

Then this happens.

It’s a fond World Matchplay memory for Mighty Mike. Recent times haven’t been as enjoyable. De Zwaan shocked him in 2018; in 2017, he was thumped by Phil Taylor. A healthy dose of nostalgia may be just what the doctor ordered. But Beaton isn’t hanging around just to dole out some pleasant World Matchplay memories. The Bronzed Adonis will hang in, and wait for an opportunity to send van Gerwen packing early yet again.

Is Adrian Lewis vs Glen Durrant the stand-out tie of the first round? It’s not for me to say. But yes, it is.

It has it all. There’s your two-time world champion, clinging desperately to the PDC world number 16 spot and a chunk of ranking money. There’s the three-time world champion switching over from the BDO and making a hotly anticipated World Matchplay debut. Stirred up in the Winter Gardens cauldron, it makes a potent brew.

Lewis performed better in the midweek Players Championship events but it’s Durrant who has stood out more across the year in general. Either would be a formidable opponent for van Gerwen or Beaton in round two. Punters are backing Durrant – though Lewis just can’t be ruled out.

Click here for more information about the World Matchplay, including the prize money breakdown, schedule and format.

Evening session schedule

First Round
19:10 James Wade v Jeffrey de Zwaan
20:10 Mensur Suljovic v Jermaine Wattimena
21:10 Michael van Gerwen v Steve Beaton
22:10 Adrian Lewis v Glen Durrant

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

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Author: Ed McCosh