The first round of the World Matchplay concludes on Monday evening on what is set to be a boiling hot stage inside the Winter Gardens in Blackpool with record temperatures heating up the UK over the course of the day.
We’ve seen some sizzling action on the oche already this week and hopefully the standard matches the temperatures over the course of Monday, a day where the likes of Gerwyn Price and Rob Cross get their campaigns underway.
Rob Cross vs Chris Dobey
We get up and running on Monday evening when the 2019 champion Rob Cross takes on the highly rated Chris Dobey, who has been around for a fair while now without really delivering anything memorable on a big stage.
Dobey usually goes well on the floor which keeps his ranking high and keeps him able to qualify for the big events such as this but he hasn’t been in the greatest touch away from the big stage so you need to feel for his chances here. The one positive he has going for him is that he is a fairly slender bloke by darts standards so he might be more comfortable on the oche than the bigger Cross. Cross is experienced enough on big stages though and has played in places like Australia so he shouldn’t be too inconvenienced by the heat. From a form perspective I expect Cross to win this but he’s plenty short enough.
Jose de Sousa vs Gabriel Clemens
The second match of the night is a repeat of a first round clash from a year ago as the Portugal ace Jose de Sousa takes on the German number one Gabriel Clemens, with the latter looking to do much better than he fared in a 10-2 loss last year.
There is a good chance Clemens will do a lot more than that because de Sousa comes into this match in absolutely no form on the stage whatsoever. I highlighted his poor form in the last European Tour event when he duly lost his opening game to Wesley Plaisier and since then he won just two of six matches across the four Players Championship events last week. That means he has now lost 10 of his last 13 matches in all competitions outside of that stupid World Cup format. Clemens reached the final of the first of those Players Championship tournaments a week or so ago and while it didn’t end well with an 8-0 loss to Dirk van Duijvenbode but he has been winning matches. Clemens isn’t one that I trust too much on the big stage but I can’t be having de Sousa right now. He isn’t scoring like we are used to seeing and in that match I took him on with Plaisier in the European Tour he hit 1/13 on the doubles. Clemens is going to get chances in this match and at 6/5 I’ll pay to see how many of them he takes.
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Gerwyn Price vs Martin Schindler
The penultimate match of the night sees the former world number one and 2021 world champion Gerwyn Price on show when he takes on the other German player in the competition in the form of Martin Schindler.
Price has a very poor record here. He has been here seven previous times and lost in the first round on four occasions and is yet to go past the quarter final here. When you consider how well he goes in the Grand Slam which is a similar length event to this in the knockout stages one can only assume either the venue or the summer heat doesn’t agree with him. Schindler comes in here with a bit of form in the books having made the semi-finals of one of those Players Championship tournaments and with little to lose he can just give this a go and see what happens. Given that Schindler has already beaten Price twice on the big stage and has played well all year I think the German is value to complete the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
Dave Chisnall vs Kim Huybrechts
The last of the first round matches sees Dave Chisnall taking on a player in Kim Huybrechts who has been here a number of times but hasn’t really delivered the goods, which should give the local man the confidence that he can progress.
Chisnall comes in here having had a number of wins in the Players Championship events last weekend and generally he performs well on the big stage, only to often find one too good for him at different times. Huybrechts has a rotten record here. This will be the eighth time he has qualified for this tournament but to date he has won one match in his previous seven visits. That win saw him beat John Henderson 13-12 before losing tamely to Peter Wright in the next round. I expect Chisnall to win this but he’s plenty short enough so I’ll let him win as we’ve seen so far that value in short priced favourites comes with a real risk here.
Back G.Clemens to beat J.de Sousa for a 3/10 stake at 2.20 with BetVictor
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Back M.Schindler to beat G.Price for a 3/10 stake at 3.00 with Boylesports
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