World Matchplay 2020: Schedule and preview Monday session with Chisnall, Gurney, Price and Lewis
We have our first seeded casualty at the World Matchplay - and it's a big one.
Rob Cross, victorious at the Winter Gardens, suffered an early exit in Milton Keynes. His exit at the hands of Gabriel Clemens means the trophy will change hands for the fifth successive year. I don't know if it was mentioned at all during the Sky coverage, but Voltage is the first defending World Matchplay champion to be knocked out in the first round since Colin Lloyd in 2006. I'm not sure if it came up.
Anyway, onto the third day of play. And if you want to see lots of big scores thrown very quickly, this first match is one for you. Nobody is talking too highly of Dave Chisnall's title chances, but he performed well at the Summer Series and if he can replicate the form that took him to last year's Grand Prix final, the five-time Matchplay quarter-finalist can at least seal a second round berth.
Chizzy takes on Vincent van der Voort, who has suffered five first round exits on the bounce at the World Matchplay. Four wins in nine Winter Gardens belies the Dutchman's ability, and he'll hope for better against Chisnall, who he gave a first round thrashing to at the 2018 World Championship (but against whom he suffered Ally Pally defeat seven months ago).
Chance for Cullen and Evans to get their revenge
Looking at Joe Cullen's World Matchplay record against Ian White, as D:Ream put it, things can only get better. A year ago, the Rockstar rocked up in Blackpool and was rocked with a 10-0 whitewashing at the hands of Ian White . It absolutely won't happen again. Cullen has continued to grow as a player and has looked solid recently, particularly during the Darts At Home tournament, in which he produced some spectacular averages. White won't look back fondly on last year either, despite that mammoth opening success, given that he squandered a chance at a meaningful run. The Diamond may be another who shines brighter without a crowd being present - it worked for noted major-phobe Jose de Sousa, even in defeat.
A year ago, Daryl Gurney had a World Matchplay final spot in his grasp, and somehow let it go. In undoing everything he'd built up with a fantastic quarter-final comeback against Peter Wright, Superchin suffered one of the biggest setbacks of his career. But 2020 provides a chance to mount a bigger challenge. Being in Milton Keynes is a success for Ricky Evans, who is starting to build up his major portfolio. He can try and build on a 2019 first round defeat to the very man he faces in his opener here.
The Iceman takes on Noppie
Gerwyn Price has dazzled on many a stage, but the Winter Gardens hasn't really been one of them. In a career on a sharp upward trajectory, his World Matchplay record has gone the other way, with a debut quarter-final giving way to a second round defeat and three consecutive first round losses. It's hard to see the Iceman collapsing to a fourth. Danny Noppert wasn't able to produce anything like his best stuff in defeat to Gary Anderson a year ago. Like Price, he has the chance to make his mark in a new Matchplay venue.
The last game of the session, and penultimate one of the first round, is a meeting between world champions. Steve Beaton arrives in Milton Keynes for his 20th consecutive World Matchplay visit, and 21st in total. His record reads: Played 32, won 12, lost 20. Across two decades of attempts, that makes for two quarter-finals and a semi-final, and six first round exits from his last seven appearances. Adrian Lewis, meanwhile, has won 13 of his 15 first round matches. The former finalist and four-time semi-finalist was outclassed by Glen Durrant last year, but will feel more comfortable in his role as favourite against the perennially popular Beaton.
Click here for more information about the World Matchplay, including the tournament bracket, TV coverage and prize money breakdown.
Schedule World Matchplay 2020
Monday July 20