It is generally accepted that the World Matchplay is darts’ second major: the one they all want to win….outside of the World Championship, of course. Here are our World Matchplay Darts 2019 betting tips.
But the historic setting of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens gives this event a regal feel, and with the 32 best or most in-form players in the field it’s a tournament that will take some wining when the action gets underway on Saturday July 20.
Those in the field will be battling it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy, named in honour of the Power after his retirement. Taylor won this event an incredible 16 times, which means that since way back in 1994 there have been just eight World Matchplay champions – only three of them in Michael van Gerwen, James Wade and the current trophy holder Gary Anderson are still active at the highest level of the sport.
This is not a tournament that, historically at least, MVG has favoured. He’s won it *just* twice in his career – a low success rate by the Dutchman’s standards – and with questions being asked about his form is he vulnerable to defeat once again in 2019?
Tournament History & Format
The inaugural hosting of this event took place in 1994, shortly after the PDC and BDO parted company, with the ‘Bald Eagle’ Larry Butler shocking the darting world with his run to the final and subsequent 16-12 victory over Dennis Priestley.
The Menace would taste defeat three times in all in World Matchplay finals without ever getting his hands on the trophy, and he heads an illustrious list – that also includes Raymond van Barneveld, John Part and Adrian Lewis – of players never to have won this tournament.
That’s in no small part down to Phil Taylor, who bagged his first Matchplay crown in 1995, another in ’97 before embarking on a spree of 13 title wins in a mere 15-year spell, with one more triumph in 2017 for good measure.
The format has changed a tad in that time, but the concept remains the same: this is a marathon, legs-based format, which starts at best-of-19 in the first round before increasing to 21, 31, 33 and finally best-of-35 in the final.
The winner has to have a two-leg margin of victory too, hence why last year’s epic final between Gary Anderson and Mensur Suljovic only ended when the Flying Scotsman ploughed into a 21-19 lead.
The qualification criteria for the World Matchplay guarantees two things: 1) the best players in the world will head to Blackpool, and 2) also the most in-form.
That’s because the top 16 in the Order of Merit are joined by the next best 16 via the ProTour system, which is generally headed by those who have enjoyed an excellent first half of the campaign.
The Order of Merit boys take the seedings, so it’s the usual suspects who get the supposedly plum draw. MVG is number one, as ever, while Gary Anderson makes just his second start of the season in a major as the number four seed.
There are some notable qualifiers via the ProTour too. Jamie Hughes, who has been in fine form for a while now and won the Czech Open, is the player the seeds all wanted to avoid – bad luck, Michael Smith.
Hughes will make his debut in a PDC major alongside former BDO rival Glen Durrant, who has spoken of his excitement at playing at the legendary Winter Gardens. He faces a fellow former world champion in Adrian Lewis first up.
And Jeffrey de Zwaan, who rampaged his way to the semi-finals here 12 months ago with victory over MVG, Lewis and Dave Chisnall, will be looking to go at least one better in 2019.
The Betting Favourites
Here’s a rare old occurrence: Michael van Gerwen an be backed at an industry-best price of 13/8 with Betfred to win a darts tournament. That’s a reflection of his lack of form and relatively feeble record at the Winter Gardens.
Betfred are also the best priced at 10/1 about Gary Anderson, who looks to defend this title despite an overwhelming lack of match sharpness as he battled a variety of injuries. Early exits at the two World Series events so far suggest the road could be a long one for the Scot.
There are a few ‘outsiders’ with lively chances this week. Gerwyn Price is fast establishing himself as one of the stars of the darting world, and quotes of 18/1 from the good people at Betsson will be a thing of the past if his ascendancy continues.
As ever, it’s the draw that offers the best clues as to where the best bets lie.
There’s just no value in backing Van Gerwen here. With early defeats in Las Vegas and Cologne of late and a tough quarter that also features the likes of Wade, Suljovic, De Zwaan and Durrant, quotes of 13/8 simply hold no appeal.
Likewise Anderson, who can be found in the ‘quarter of death’ which also contains Smith, Hughes, Chisnall, Hopp and Aspinall. We were keen on ‘The Asp’ until the draw was made, and really his section should be avoided.
And so it’s the bottom half of the bracket here opportunities abound. Peter Wright’s route to the semi-final could be Van der Voort, Whitlock and Gurney, and while that’s no walk in the park it does tell us that Snakebite is the best outright bet here given his excellent form of late.
The third quarter is also an intriguing one, with Cross, Ratajski, Price and White all on a collision course. The Iceman plays Ian White, an outstanding player who has rarely shown his best in majors, and for our money Price is a smart bet to win the third quarter ahead of Rob Cross, who faces the dangerous Krzysztof Ratajski first up.
One final wager goes to Suljovic, who loves these long leg-based battles. He is proven over this course and at the venue, whereas his first-round opponent, Jermaine Wattimena, still hasn’t brought his best darts to the TV stage. Back the Austrian with a comfortable -2.5 leg handicap at 10/11 with Bet365.