World Matchplay 2020: Schedule and preview Saturday session with former champions Wade, Van Gerwen and Anderson on opening night

The World Matchplay is no average tournament; and this will be a Matchplay like no other.

It’ll be weird, no doubt about it. No Blackpool, no Winter Gardens opulence, no raucous atmosphere. And no Mervyn King. But it’s darts on the TV, and there can’t be anything wrong with that. So let’s get the 2020 World Matchplay underway, before we’re hit with some sort of zombie apocalypse, or whatever else this devil of a year wants to throw at us.

The tournament opens with a debut appearance for Ryan Joyce. The mild-mannered Geordie comes into the World Matchplay having claimed his first PDC title during the Summer Series. Joyce has a cool head and an eye for doubles - he has admitted himself that his scoring needs some fine-tuning, but should he piece them all together, he’ll be a real threat.

The draw has been fairly kind to Joyce, too. He knows Simon Whitlock, having obliterated the Aussie at the 2019 World Championship, and Whitlock isn’t in sparkling form. Yet the two-time semi-finalist shouldn’t be ruled out, and will be viewing this as a chance to set himself up for the latter part of this season (whatever that entails).

Krzysztof Ratajski is a time bomb with no timer. You know he’s going to do something spectacular on the biggest of stages, but quite when he’ll do that is a mystery. Perhaps that’s being harsh, considering the Polish Eagle has won big events before. Then again, he didn’t impress in Blackpool last year. This time around, he faces Jermaine Wattimena, whose pace should make for a comfortable rhythm.

World Matchplay 2020: Schedule and preview Saturday session with former champions Wade, Van Gerwen and Anderson on opening night
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Former champions entering the stage in Milton Keynes

James Wade and Keegan Brown have a history. Most of that revolves around two World Championship games in 2017 and 2018, with the pair grabbing a win apiece. Wade put in some decent performances during the Summer Series, and will be out to set up a possible second round clash with the winner of the night’s final game.

Michael van Gerwen is a prolific winner. So having “only” won the World Matchplay twice (and falling short in each of the last three attempts) will gall him. The Dutchman looked strong in the Summer Series, grabbing two of the four titles. This will be an almighty challenge for Brendan Dolan. The History Maker will relish the complete lack of pressure, along with the absence of support for Van Gerwen in an empty Marshall Arena. It’s not enough to tip the scales, but at least provides a new challenge for the three-time world champion.

The evening ends with two players who will crave a good run here, for different reasons (beside the obvious will to win). Gary Anderson lifted the trophy two years ago, surviving some truly epic clashes to reach the summit. Now that ranking money is at risk, and he might need to win here to avoid a fate he’s been so keen to swerve - namely, actually bothering to turn up for every event.

Justin Pipe, meanwhile, has spent the first half of the year looking over his shoulder, rankings-wise. Keeping his Tour Card is the top priority right now for the veteran. Scooping up £10,000 just for turning up is a good start. However the Somerset ace will be out to do much more than make up the numbers. Anderson is known to struggle in a slow-paced game (Scott Kirchner, anyone?) Pipe will know that, but won’t need to exaggerate any part of his normally meticulous throwing style to have that effect.

Click here for more information about the World Matchplay, including the tournament bracket, TV coverage and prize money breakdown.

Schedule World Matchplay 2020

Saturday July 18
First Round

18:00 Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce
19:00 Krzysztof Ratajski v Jermaine Wattimena
20:00 James Wade v Keegan Brown
21:00 Michael van Gerwen v Brendan Dolan
22:00 Gary Anderson v Justin Pipe

World Matchplay 2020: Schedule and preview Saturday session with former champions Wade, Van Gerwen and Anderson on opening night
Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

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