Schedule for Sunday evening at 2021 World Matchplay including Wright and De Sousa in action
The big names continue to adorn the Winter Gardens stage at Blackpool as the World Matchplay continues on Sunday night with two of the main favourites for the title in action in Jose de Sousa and Peter Wright.
With the usual double session on a Sunday providing stunning wins for Luke Humphries, Krzysztof Ratajski as well as Callan Rydz and Rob Cross moving through, it serves d'oeuvre for a tantalising schedule of tungsten this evening.
Recent title winner Dobey to face ProTour standout Cullen
Coming off the back of a brilliant Super Series foray which saw his form steadily improve until a title was finally his he has been producing stunning averages and displays with his throw looking as good as ever.
On paper, mere months ago, Joe Cullen his opponent would have been made surefire favourite for this clash after finishing inside the top 16 seeds following his ProTour prowess.
But he recently withdrew from the Super Series citing personal reasons and saying his head was elsewhere and he was aiming to refocus ahead of the World Matchplay.
A tournament since that brilliant run to the Quarter-Finals losing to Gary Anderson in a quality clash that has seen him leave before the second round twice. Will it be red-hot Dobey or will Cullen return to the form which has seen him heavily touted in 2021?
Searle to test his metal against Bully Boy
Making his debut in the 2021 World Matchplay is Ryan Searle who will take to the Winter Gardens stage in some of the form of his life on Sunday evening.
'Heavy Metal' claimed his maiden title in 2020 and has been one of the most consistent performers on the floor even since unlucky to not add more to his resume with a recent final at Players Championship 15 seeing him lose out to Jose de Sousa.
Only recently, he also broke his highest average ever recorded two games running before again coming under a sort of mental block against De Sousa.
In Smith, he is of course playing a former finalist two years ago who will be defending a lot of money this year as a result so will be under pressure.
A winner himself on the ProTour this season, his performances have been hit and miss in spells but this could be a serious contender for match of the night with both possessing huge 180 prowess.
'Snakebite' aims to 'Freeze' in-form Dutchman Noppert
One of the leading attractions of the second night of action comes from the former World Champion, Peter 'Snakebite' Wright who comes off the back of yet another Super Series win.
He made the bold claim in Coventry that he would win both the World Matchplay and the World Championship again this year.
Not only will eyes be on the World No.2's outfit and walk-on but also his darts and whether he will stick to the Gold element darts he won the ProTour with in such empathic fashion.
If he is to win the Matchplay though, a first round win against 'The Freeze' Danny Noppert will need to be acquired.
The Dutchman has been steadily improving for a long time and has long been one of the best players on the ProTour without picking up the titles worthy of his victories. He will provide a tough test for 'Snakebite' first up.
De Sousa set for Blackpool debut against Clemens
Speaking of best players on the ProTour, two of them will collide in the final game of the night as Premier League finalist and Grand Slam champion, 'The Special One' Jose de Sousa will grace the Winter Gardens for the first time.
A first round exit last year for the Portuguese Man O Scores but since then, his game has gone to new heights with three titles this season so far and now being part of the darting elite.
He faces Gabriel Clemens who similar to Danny Noppert has long been a consistent performer and has now grabbed the German No.1 mantle away from Max Hopp. 'The German Giant' is now the highest ranked player without a title and will be hoping to topple the Portuguese ace in the opening round this year.
Evening Session (1930 BST)
4x First Round
19:10 Joe Cullen v Chris Dobey
20:10 Michael Smith v Ryan Searle
21:10 Peter Wright v Danny Noppert
22:10 Jose de Sousa v Gabriel Clemens