The opening night of the World Matchplay sees eight players taking to the stage in four matches as the first round of the competition gets up and running inside the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Saturday evening.
The defending champion Peter Wright is the headline act on the opening night of the tournament as he gets his title defence started. The support card to the world champion is a pretty good one so this should be a great night of darts.
Krzysztof Ratajski vs Stephen Bunting
The opening match of the tournament sees the Polish star Krzysztof Ratajski looking to build on his run to the semi-final last year when he takes on Stephen Bunting whose record here flatters to deceive given the talent at his disposal.
Ratajski had a good run in this tournament last year but he’s won just two of his last eight matches on the European Tour this season and while he is still an animal on the floor, the big stage is a whole different ball game. Bunting has been here seven times in the past and only come through the first round twice so that doesn’t bode well but he does have wins in both their past battles, one in a European Tour event and the other in the World Championship last year. This should be a close match but Ratajski doesn’t always perform like he can on a big stage. I think with the freedom of lack of expectation or the favourite tag Bunting can put it to Ratajski and come out on top here.
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Callan Rydz
The second match of the night might well prove to be the pick of the four on show as the 2020 winner Dimitri Van den Bergh meets the World Championship quarter finalist Callan Rydz, a player who made the final on the floor and the semi-final of a European Tour event a couple of months ago.
Rydz is no longer a secret on the PDC circuit. He has been a prospect for a while but his run to the World Championship quarter final shows that he can handle the big occasion and he is entitled to go well here. The problem he has is Van den Bergh loves this tournament. He won it two years ago and made the final when attempting to defend the title last year. He is also in excellent form having won the last two World Series events. I think Van den Bergh will win this but I massively respect Rydz so this is one to watch rather than bet on.
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Peter Wright vs Madars Razma
The penultimate match of the evening sees the defending champion Peter Wright looking to make it into the second round when he goes up against the Latvian star Madars Razma, a player making his debut on the Blackpool stage here.
Razma qualified for this tournament when he made the final of a floor event back in April but a run in a European Tour event earlier in the month aside he hasn’t really done a huge amount since that April run so you’ve got to think he is going to be up against it here. If the real Wright turns up here he definitely wins this but we don’t quite know which Wright is going to appear these days which makes betting on his matches quite difficult. I would prefer to assess the form of Wright in this one rather than bet on it.
Jonny Clayton vs Rowby-John Rodriguez
The final match of the night sees the Welsh star Jonny Clayton beginning his quest for a first World Matchplay title when he goes up against the Austrian player Rowby-John Rodriguez who has suddenly come into some great form.
Clayton has been a little in and out this year but he made the semi-final of the Premier League and the final of a Players Championship event as recently as Monday. That is the good side of him but he has lost a number of matches he shouldn’t over the course of the year. Rodriguez has caught fire since the World Cup and was within a leg of winning the European Tour event at the beginning of the month. This has the potential to be much closer than the odds suggest but I’m already on Rodriguez for the quarter and a win here significantly enhances his chances so I’ll leave betting on this one alone too.
Back S.Bunting to beat K.Ratajski for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with William Hill
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