These are the five debutants at the 2024 World Matchplay

Next Friday, July 13, the 31st edition of the World Matchplay will kick off. A total of 32 players will compete against each other for the coveted 'Phil Taylor Trophy'. Among all these players we will find five debutants this year. So let's take a look at them.

Luke Littler

You could easily forget because of all he's done over the past few months, but the youngster is here at the World Matchplay for the first in his career. Since his meteoric rise at the 2024 World Championship, we have seen Littler shine at almost every major tournament, culminating wirh victory in this year's Premier League Darts. He immediately managed to reach the final night after having won the league phase in his first season. On that night he defeated Michael Smith (10-5) and then in the final Luke Humphries 11-7 to win the title on his debut.

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Despite the fact that this will be the 17-year-old's first time at the tournament in Blackpool, he is one of the big favourites to win the title. However, he will then have to face another favourite in the first round: Michael van Gerwen. This is a cracker in which Littler can show what shape he is in and whether he can make a serious bid for the title.

These are the five debutants at the 2024 World Matchplay
Luke Litter managed to win the Premier League Darts immediately on his debut.
Gian van Veen

Another major talent who gets to make his debut at this prestigious tournament. Besides Litter, Van Veen is perhaps the second great young talent within the PDC. Both men faced each other in the final of the PDC World Youth Championship, which the Englishman eventually won 6-4. Although the Dutchman has not gone through the same rapid rise as Littler, he has already made a big impression since his arrival to the PDC.

In 2023, "The Giant" managed to reach the quarterfinals of the European Darts Grand Prix by beating Jermaine Wattimena, Danny Noppert and Josh Rock, respectively. In the quarterfinals, however, Luke Humphries was too strong. Over a month later he managed to reach the quarterfinals again, this time at the European Darts Matchplay. He defeated Christian Kist (103.92 average), Damon Heta (114.15 average) and Marin Schindler (101.40 average), but then had to face James Wade.

At the European Darts Championship, Van Veen, on his debut, managed to reach his first semifinal at a Major. In the first round, the Dutchman won convincingly against Damon Heta 6-1 to then beat Daryl Gurney 10-6 to reach the quarterfinals. There he met his compatriot Michael van Gerwen and surprisingly managed to advance 10-6 to the semifinals. There James Wade eventually proved too strong for the 22-year-old with 11-9. Van Veen will take on Rob Cross in the first round.

Ricardo Pietreczko

Ricardo Pietreczko is currently the third German on the PDC Order of Merit behind Martin Schindler and Gabriel Clemens. Although at 29 years old he cannot really be considered a young talent anymore, he has made significant strides in the PDC over the past two years. 'Pikachu' earned his Tour Card at Q-school in 2022 and has had some great results since then.

At Players Championship 28 in 2022 he managed to reach the semifinals for the first time, where Luke Humphries eventually proved too strong 7-2. A year later he again reached the havle final at Players Championship 8. At the European Darts Open in Leverkusen he reached the quarterfinals. The German beat Geert Nentjes (6-2), Peter Wright (6-5) and Stephen Bunting (6-3) among others. In the end, Pietreczko had to acknowledge his superiority to Rob Cross on the final day and was defeated 6-5.

At the end of 2023, 'Pikachu' managed to win, domestically, his first Euro Tour (German Darts Championship). He won over Mickey Mansell, Martin Schindler, George Killington, Stephen Bunting and Michael van Gerwen and faced Peter Wright in the final. Pietreczko proved to be the stronger of the two, eventually winning 8-4. Pietreczko will play current world champion Luke Humphries in his first round match.

Ritchie Edhouse

Ritchie Edhouse has been with the PDC since 2015 and has never really been able to make a real impact or achieve any major results. The Englishman has never advanced beyond the last 32 at a major tournament and has only won a PDC Challenge Tour three times in 2016, 2019 and 2020 respectively. However, 'The Madhouse' seems completely reborn since the beginning of this year, convincingly beating one big name after another on the floor and Euro Tours.

He managed to reach the quarter-finals at the International Darts Open and Baltic Sea Darts Open, though both of these were lost against Stephen Bunting and Rob Cross, respectively. In between, he also made it to the semifinals of Players Championship 9, where he eventually lost 7-4 to Ryan Joyce. In the Qualifiers of the European Darts Grand Prix he also managed to throw a nine darter against Dutchman Kevin Doets.

At major tournaments, however, it has yet to really click for the 41-year-old Englishman, as previously mentioned Edhouse has never advanced beyond the last 32 at a Major. In his current form, it might finally be possible for him to advance further in the tournament. If 'The Madhouse' wants to achieve that, he will have to deal with compatriot Chris Dobey in the first round.

Luke Woodhouse

Luke Woodhouse, the current number 34 in the world, has been with the PDC since 2011 but never really achieved any standout results until last year. As such, 'Woody' is still waiting for his first tournament win.

At the Hungarian Darts Trophy last September, the Englishman managed to reach the quarterfinals of a Euro Tour for the first time. He defeated Gabor Jagicza (6-3), Rob Cross (6-3) and Peter Wright (6-2). After that, however, Luke Humphries proved too big and Woodhouse went down 6-0. Not much later he also managed to get far for the first time at a major tournament: The Players Championship Finals. Via Simon Whitlock (6-4 win), Rob Cross (6-3 win) and Dave Chisnall (10-8 win) he reached the quarterfinals, where he faced Gabriel Clemens. The German eventually proved just a little stronger and defeated 'Woody' 10-7.

In 2024, Woodhouse reached the semifinals and quarterfinals of Players Championship 7 and 9, respectively. He also managed to reach the quarterfinals of the Dutch Darts Championship. If the Englishman wants to aim high this World Matchplay, he will have to deal with current defending champion Nathan Aspinall in the first round.

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