Tuesday turned out to be the catalyst for the powder keg of World Matchplay drama.
Four matches produced 89 legs of quite incredible action. Only Mervyn King won without going to overtime – the non-seed knocked out defending champion Gary Anderson. King will play Michael Smith, who just about saw off Max Hopp. James Wade rode his luck to dismiss Mensur Suljovic. And in a game that promised much and delivered even more, Glen Durrant has sent Michael van Gerwen packing. This World Matchplay has turned out to be a classic.
We could see even more excitement on Wednesday. Keegan Brown is out to make some headlines; as many bookies’ outside shot for the title, he’s the ultimate underdog. Brown beat Jonny Clayton thanks to a world class 10 out of 16 on the doubles, putting away four ton-plus checkouts in the process.
Daryl Gurney’s naturally the big favourite here, but he’ll surely be aware of the danger his opponent poses. Superchin almost let Ricky Evans claw him back before rallying to finish off their first round meeting. Could Brown’s fighting spirit make things tense for the third seed?
Stephen Bunting secured a vital win on the first night against Gerwyn Price. It means that the Bullet is just one more win away from a best ever World Matchplay performance. Standing in his way is Ian White, who routed Joe Cullen 10-0 for the ultimate confidence boost.
Cross in Pole position
Rob Cross is the highest seed left in the 2019 World Matchplay. Though this edition has proved that seedings don’t mean all that much, he’s still the new bookies’ favourite. A 100 average and solid finishing against Chris Dobey showed why the Hastings ace is being roundly backed.
Krzysztof Ratajski found it in him to beat Darren Webster without fuss, all while playing his B-game. Too many darts strayed from its target in that win. The Pole needs to do away with the 41s, 45s and even the 81s against a man who pounded in 11 140+ scores and five maximums in his last outing.
Cross is the new favourite for some; for others, it’s Peter Wright. Snakebite sealed his 19th consecutive win in style, averaging 102 and piling in 37 scores of 100 or more – including a classy 164 checkout – in the process. Win number 20 would put him into a quarter-final with Gurney or Brown.
He needs to do away with Simon Whitlock first. The Aussie racked up 10 scores of 140 or more in a tie with John Henderson that went the distance. Whitlock hasn’t been his best for a little while, but to secure a World Matchplay win in that fashion could only have done wonders for his morale. The Wizard will need to retain that magic touch to stop Wright in his tracks.
Wednesday session schedule
19:10 Daryl Gurney v Keegan Brown
20:10 Stephen Bunting v Ian White
21:10 Rob Cross v Krzysztof Ratajski
22:10 Peter Wright v Simon Whitlock
Author: Ed McCosh