World Matchplay 2020: Schedule and preview Tuesday session with Van Gerwen and clash between Anderson and Wade
Only one seed dropped out in the first ten ties in the World Matchplay. On Monday, three of the five seeds taking part were taken apart.
Gerwyn Price, Dave Chisnall and Ian White have all bid a hasty adieu to the World Matchplay . Now there's just one seed left who needs to navigate the first hurdle, before the second round kicks into gear.
A year ago, Nathan Aspinall turned up at the World Matchplay and did very little wrong. Somehow, it wasn't enough. Mervyn King showed real guile to hold the Asp back - and at the moment, that's what it takes. The Asp continues to grow, winning the PDC Darts At Home tournament and showing consistent class. He's a real contender in Milton Keynes. But so was Price. Dimitri van den Bergh will be hoping to follow the Danny Noppert route. The Belgian ace makes his Matchplay debut here. In his last major outing, at the UK Open, he achieved a joint-best run by making the quarter-finals (even averaging 102 in defeat to Price). The Dream Maker has what it takes to kill Aspinall's dream of a second major title.
After that is round two. In the Day Two preview, it was mentioned that Michael Smith would be hoping to replicate his Premier League thrashing of Jonny Clayton. Well, he did it. Seemingly galvanised by Wayne Mardle's words of, um, encouragement, Smith proved in style that he's in the sort of form upon which great major performances can be built. Now Mensur Suljovic is in the Bully Boy's sights. Surviving a real slugfest with the excellent (and perennially unfortunate) Jamie Hughes will be a major boost to the Austrian's confidence. Suljovic played well throughout, averaging 100 in 22 legs compared to Smith's 101 average over 13. With any luck, both will mount a repeat of their first round games, and we'll have a real cracker on our hands.
Former champions battling for place in Quarter-Finals
Like Suljovic, James Wade was taken all the way in round one. The Machine was a hair's breadth from being gazumped by Keegan Brown, but in classic Wadey style, victory was ground out. Now comes a much bigger challenge in the form of Gary Anderson. The 2018 champion was way below par in the first round, as he tends to be against players going at the sort of speed that Justin Pipe does. Anderson won't be too worried, but this is the time to lay down a marker with the winner of the night's fourth tie awaiting the winner.
Said tie features one Michael van Gerwen, whose version of operating short of standard entails an average just a whisker under 100. Brendan Dolan was dealt with in a professional performance, but Mighty Mike still has plenty of gears to go through. It feels like Simon Whitlock can likewise post a better performance than the one which accounted for Ryan Joyce. Then again, winning games is the be all and end all - so even if he can't achieve consistency, the Wizard can aim to keep on van Gerwen's coattails and punish errors, wherever they may appear.
Gabriel Clemens and Krzysztof Ratajski meet in a major for the first time. It almost certainly won't be the last - these two emerging European heavyweights are here to stay. Clemens landed his second round berth by securing the biggest win of his career to date and sending Rob Cross packing. Both he and Ratajski are now eyeing up a first PDC major quarter-final. Ratajski deserves immense credit for a scintillating 107.53 average against Jermaine Wattimena - even one his opponent took time to applaud. If he keeps doing that, forget a first quarter-final; the Polish Eagle could soar all the way to the summit.
Click here for more information about the World Matchplay, including the tournament bracket, TV coverage and prize money breakdown.
Schedule World Matchplay 2020
Tuesday July 21