Schedule for Wednesday evening at 2021 World Matchplay featuring Wright, Van Gerwen and Anderson
Half of the quarter-final line-up is done and dusted. The top half looks highly exciting, too; Krzysztof Ratajski or Callan Rydz will make their first PDC major semi-final appearance, while Dimitri van den Bergh faces a showdown with Gerwyn Price. The World Matchplay's bottom half looks set to ramp up the intrigue even further.
Considering that they're two of the world's most exciting players, you could be forgiven for forgetting how Michael Smith and Jose de Sousa made it here. That's a compliment; amid the thrills and spills, both did a very professional job in the first round, with Ryan Searle causing more bother to Smith than Gabriel Clemens did to De Sousa. Expect both to take their scoring up a gear; it seems likely that it'll be on the outer ring where the wheat will be cut from the...slightly less excellent wheat.
Gary Anderson is apparently still fuming with his own form, and yet he keeps winning games, because it's practically second nature. The Scot did away with a very off-colour Stephen Bunting; Nathan Aspinall may not be in his very best form, but he doesn't really had bad off-days any more. The Asp handled Mervyn King excellently, and will have the same in mind for another veteran in Anderson. It would be some sweet irony if Aspinall's first ever World Matchplay win led him towards a deep run.
At some point, watching Ian White play in a TV major is going to be outlawed under the Geneva Convention. It's some odd form of torture; watching a genuinely brilliant player build towards victory, realise where he is, panic, and contrive to throw away all sorts of chances to win. The latest white-knuckle ride saw White grant Daryl Gurney a chance to capitalise as finish line fever set in, only for Superchin to hand back the advantage in the nick of time.
Now the Diamond is one step from just a second Matchplay quarter-final. Unfortunately, Michael van Gerwen isn't the most charitable of opponents. That being said, Mighty Mike is oddly vulnerable at the Winter Gardens (or, for one year only, Milton Keynes) - he wasn't fully comfortable even in victory over debutant Damon Heta.
Joe Cullen took a bit of a swipe at his doubters and detractors after beating Chris Dobey in the first round. It shows that the Rockstar truly believes in himself and will take motivation in the slights against him - which is a great sign. Whatever you say about recent form or even his Matchplay record, the Cullen we've seen in the past year looks more a winner than we've ever seen, both mentally and in terms of performance. He won't fear Peter Wright one bit; Snakebite, who was a model of consistency as he gave Danny Noppert an early chance to enjoy the Blackpool Pleasure Beach, seems to fear nobody but himself. Wright claimed he was "rubbish" in the first round; his version of "quite good, actually" is scary to consider.
Schedule 2021 World Matchplay
Wednesday July 21 (1900 BST)
4x Second Round
19:10 Michael Smith v Jose de Sousa
20:10 Gary Anderson v Nathan Aspinall
21:10 Michael van Gerwen v Ian White
22:10 Peter Wright v Joe Cullen