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Anderson edges MvG in Tokyo as intriguing World Matchplay draw is made

Holly Thackeray | July 7, 2016

Anderson eyeing World Matchplay after Tokyo triumph

Three out of four ain’t bad. Gary Anderson took Michael van Gerwen to task in the 2016 Tokyo Darts Masters final – his third title from four World Series events so far this year, with MvG snatching the other in Shanghai.

The Flying Scotsman certainly travels well of late, having gathered up a head of steam with his 8-6 victory on the Osanbashi Hall oche as well as showpiece successes in Auckland against Adrian Lewis and in Dubai versus Van Gerwen again, just in time for the 2016 World Matchplay.

With Phil Taylor fading in these events after being pipped by Mighty Mike to the Premier League post, someone needed to be in form to challenge the dominant Dutchman in time for the annual Winter Gardens outing. And, it was Anderson that stepped up to the plate again.

Inconsistencies ironed out?

Accused of dropping the buck this time last summer after exhausting Premier League and World Darts Championship wins, it seems as though the Scot has solved his consistency issues, though he did only go all the way in the latter tournament this calendar year.

Currently the darling of darts and apple of neutral fans’ eyes for providing credible competition and a tonic to Van Gerwen’s bruising supremacy in the sport, it may not be long before supporters also get tired of seeing the Scotsman steal all before him if he carries on in this ruthless run.

In Tokyo, Anderson was able to take advantage of MvG’s propensity to storm ahead and then lose a few legs, with the Flying Scotsman going up a couple of gears at the end of the game and fighting back from behind.

The golden moments for the Scottish Borders-born star in Japan came as he rallied to level at 4-4 and then 5-5, taking out tops after his rival blew a chance to make it all even again before becoming bounding out in front. Coolness when converting at the business end – there are few better than Anderson at that currently.

Blackpool beckons

Van Gerwen still has a chance to even the World Series tally, with two more tournaments to go in Perth and Sydney, after a ‘break’ for the World Matchplay in Blackpool.

In a testament to how gruelling this summer’s tungsten schedule is, Anderson and company have just over a week to recover from any jet lag acquired in East Asia before Lancashire hosts one of the most eagerly-awaited competitions on the arrow calendar – eight days of darts!

Having now taken Mighty Mike down a peg or two with victory in their last two final frays, but not quite knocked the younger man off his perch, Anderson looks great value at 4/1 with Coral as the in-form man to take the Matchplay trophy from his rival.

Another final meeting between the two is on the cards with the duo drawn in separate halves of the World Matchplay, and a big blowout could occur with both at their best on the biggest stages.

The Flying Scotsman will now hold no fear of any opponents with his scalping of the world number one, though his best-ever Winter Gardens finish is the semi-finals back in 2014.

Anderson was bested by Taylor (6/1 to take back the World Matchplay title) then, but will have to play the English legend before the final if both progress as expected. Not many players topple Van Gerwen three times in a row, however, and it will truly take something special to stop the darting juggernaut from retaining and for Anderson to claim a maiden Winter Gardens glory.

As for MvG himself, he is rated 11/10 to keep the World Matchplay trophy polished despite a few sub-par performances on this recent tour. Pushing The Power all the way in the Premier League would be enough to exhaust anyone, especially when followed by treks across the globe and a World Cup of Darts tournament.

Still, by anyone else’s standards Mighty Mike would be considered to be in blistering form. And, the line regularly trotted out is that The Green Machine is never more belligerent and unbeatable than when wounded – and two finale collapses in a matter of months to Anderson qualifies as much more than prodding the sleeping lion.

World Matchplay draw provides fascinating first fixtures

While, back to bread and butter competitions, in a subplot to all the World Series arrow action in Japan, the PDC’s globetrotting superstars soon return to British shores for World Matchplay action in Blackpool, with the draw made just hours before Anderson’s triumph.

The coveted competition, begins on Saturday, July 16th and runs until Sunday, July 24th. This epic event on the Empress Ballroom oche also enters its 23rd edition having produced just seven different winners, with the tournament dominated by 15-time victor Taylor.

Darts - 2014 William Hill World Darts Championship - Day Fourteen - Alexandra Palace

As mentioned, it is power thrower Van Gerwen defending the title; however, The Power as well as Anderson are primed to try and wrestle the £100,000 winning prize pot from the pretender to Taylor’s throne and arrow empire.

First up for the Potter is a tussle with a relatively local hero in Liverpool-born Robbie Green, a 2006 UK Open quarter finalist who should pose The Power no real problems.

While, Mighty Mike begins his defence of the crown in a collision with cult hero Jamie ‘Jabba’ Caven.

Darts - 2014 William Hill World Darts Championship - Day Thirteen - Alexandra Palace

Other tasty curtain raisers include Dave Chisnall’s clash with promising 23-year-old Dutchman Benito van de Pas, Lewis’ encounter with former BDO world champion Mark Webster and a scrap between decorated Anderson and impressive PDC newcomer Alan Norris.

Raymond van Barneveld is another with a trickier start as he takes on potentially thorny opponent Brendan Dolan.

Plenty of potential pitfalls

As for casting an eye toward the latter rounds, Chizzy is unlucky to again fall in MvG’s potential path toward the final, with Snakebite or Lewis likely opponents at the semis stage for the world number one, who is able to avoid The Flying Scotsman and The Power until the finale.

The route to the last two does not favour beleaguered Barney, however, as Wade may await in the second round with Taylor tipped to face one of the twosome in the quarters.

Darts - 2014 William Hill World Darts Championship - Day Thirteen - Alexandra Palace

With the names already drawn for the opening encounters, it looks set to be a highly competitive nine days of darts duels. See the full list of first round fixtures below, with 16 star seeds from the PDC Order of Merit and the same number of ProTour qualifiers:

2016 World Matchplay fixtures first round (Best of 19 legs)

Michael van Gerwen v Jamie Caven
Vincent van der Voort v Kyle Anderson
Robert Thornton v Josh Payne
Dave Chisnall v Benito van de Pas
Peter Wright v Joe Cullen
Ian White v Daryl Gurney
Adrian Lewis v Mark Webster
Kim Huybrechts v Gerwyn Price
Gary Anderson v Alan Norris
Terry Jenkins v Justin Pipe
Michael Smith v Simon Whitlock
Jelle Klaasen v Steve Beaton
James Wade v Mervyn King
Raymond van Barneveld v Brendan Dolan
Phil Taylor v Robbie Green
Stephen Bunting v Mensur Suljovic

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