2016 World Matchplay 1st round: Van Gerwen begins title defence
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | July 15, 2016
2016 World Matchplay
- First round, day one
- Saturday, July 16th
- Session from: 19:15 BST
- Winter Gardens, Blackpool
- Live on Sky Sports 2
Can Taylor reclaim crown from MvG?
Darts’ biggest names return for another edition of the World Matchplay, the sport’s most prestigious after the PDC World Championship, as 32 stars battle it out for the crown at Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens venue.
A total of 32 names take to the oche, which was previously the spiritual home of Phil Taylor (6/1 tournament chance with Coral) until Michael van Gerwen (11/10 favourite) stopped a run of seven successive titles last year.
Can Mighty Mike be just the second person to retain this trophy? He begins his quest to do so on the opening day, along with the likes of other seeds Dave Chisnall, Robert Thornton and Vincent van der Voort, so read on for our preview of Saturday’s session.
Vincent van der Voort v Kyle Anderson
Kicking off the competition is Van der Voort and Aussie Anderson, who have faced off twice before – both duels of which were last year.
The Original triumphed in their maiden meeting at a UK Open qualifier, but The Dutch Destroyer won when it mattered most at the most recent PDC World Championship. On both occasions, just two legs separated them, so back Van der Voort at 17/2 to come through 10-8.
It might be a surprise, therefore, that Anderson is the 8/11 odds-on favourite to beat the Dutch 2009 quarter-finalist (11/10) and reach the second round.
Robert Thornton v Josh Payne
Thornton walks next onto the oche, though it could be a long 500 miles for the Scot who is still amazingly without a win at this event from six previous attempts.
That could mean that a young and hungry Payne, who has beaten The Thorn before, can cause an early tournament shock to knock out the eighth seed. He is 7/4 to do so.
Scotsman Thornton is a three-time Major winner, though, so if you have faith in him to avoid an upset then back him odds-on at 4/9.
Michael van Gerwen v Jamie Caven
Defending champion Van Gerwen (heavy 1/20 odds-on favourite) begins on the opening day too, and it’s fair to say that only a miracle will halt him from beating Caven (9/1).
Jabba did claim an unlikely victory over the dominant Dutchman at the 2014 European Darts Open, but that was his sole win from a run of 12 meetings.
Van Gerwen claimed the following four matches, though three were by just one leg. Odds of 14/1 say that Mighty Mike will win by a close 10-8 scoreline.
Being the green darts machine that he is too, the Dutch world number one is 7/2 to get the highest checkout on the night.
Dave Chisnall v Benito van de Pas
Rounding off the session, three-time quarter-finalist Chizzy (1/2) has been handed a tricky test against another Dutchman van de Pas (13/8).
Chisnall certainly doesn’t enjoy going toe-to-toe with Big Ben, having lost three of their four meetings including their only tussle in 2016.
This could go all the way, which means that maximums man Chizzy will have plenty of chances to build up his 180s tally. The Merseysider is 5/2 to hit the most of the evening.
Coral’s top tip: Payne is a tempting 7/4 shout to upset eighth seed Thornton.