This weekend will see the beginning of one of the most prestigious and popular darts tournaments of the year, the PDC World Matchplay which takes place at the famous Winter Gardens in the seaside resort of Blackpool.

This matchplay event, which features players playing straight legs, rather than sets and legs, is rated by many players and experts as the second most important event of the year, behind the PDC World Championship and it is one tournament that every darts player would love to have on their C.V.

First founded in 1994, the tournament was dominated for many years by one player, Phil Taylor, who won a record 16 World Matchplay titles from 17 finals appearances and 24 appearances at the event in total.

In fact, Taylor’s record is not likely to be surpassed any time soon as after the English darting legend, the most number of wins any player has achieved in the event is two, by both Rod Harrington and Michael van Gerwen.

After his retirement from the sport, the World Matchplay trophy was renamed the Phil Taylor trophy and it will be presented to the lucky winner of the event on Sunday 24th July.

Last year it was Peter Wright who landed his first Matchplay title, defeating the current holder Dmitri Van den Bergh in the final.

However, starting on Saturday 16th, the tournament will begin again with 32 players contesting the first round.

Bet365 Sport is offering a wide range of bets on the tournament, including extensive In Play betting when the games are in progress, and we will be taking a look at some of the best betting options for this event a little later in the article.

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But for now, let’s learn a little more about the tournament itself.

World Matchplay – History And Previous Winners

This will be the 29th World Matchplay tournament after it was formed in 1994 as one of the signature tournaments of the new PDC Tour.

32 players compete, 16 from the top seeds in the PDC Rankings and 16 other professionals from the top seeds on the ProTour across the nine days of action.

The current holder of the title is Peter Wright.

Previous Winners

  • 16 Wins – Phil Taylor
  • 2 Wins – Rod Harrington, Michael Van Gerwen
  • 1 Win – Larry Butler, Peter Evison, Colin Lloyd, James Wade, Gary Anderson, Rob Cross, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Peter Wright.

Losing Finalists

Players to have appeared in a World Matchplay Final but did not win the trophy are as follows: Dennis Priestley, Alan Warriner, Ronnie Baxter, Peter Manley, Richie Burnett, John Part, Wayne Mardle, Mark Dudbridge, Terry Jenkins, Raymond van Barneveld, Adrian Lewis, Mensur Suljovic and Michael Smith.

James Wade, Michael Van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Peter Wright, Dmitri Van den Bergh and Gary Anderson have all won the tournament at least once and also finished as a runner up in their careers.

The shortest final came in 2009, when Phil Taylor obliterated Terry Jenkins 18-4, while the longest final took place in 2018 and saw Gary Anderson defeat Mensur Suljovic 21-19 after a marathon 40 games.

World Matchplay Tournament 2022

In Matchplay, players must achieve victory over their opponent by two legs or more. If a match is tied with just one leg left to play, then up to an additional six legs will be played to decide the winner by two legs.

However, if after six additional legs, the match remains all-square, then the match will be decided by a one-leg sudden death format.

So, for example, if in the First Round of the tournament, two players are tied at 9-9 with just the 19th leg left to play, then at least one more additional leg will be played to try and decide the winner by two legs.

However, if the match goes to 12-12, then a sudden death single-leg game is used to decide the winner. 

The format for the tournament is outlined below:

  • First Round – First to 10 Legs
  • Second Round – First to 11 Legs
  • Quarter Finals – First to 16 Legs
  • Semi Finals – First to 17 Legs
  • Final – First to 18 Legs

The draw is a seeded draw, with players able to plot their route to the final, the draw would see the 1st seed take on the 16th seed in the Second Round should they both win their First Round matches, and so on throughout the draw.

World Matchplay First Round Draw

  • Peter Wright (1) v Madars Razma
  • Krzysztof Ratajski (16) v Stephen Bunting
  • Jonny Clayton (8) v Rowby-John Rodrigues
  • Dmitri Van den Bergh (9) v Callan Rydz
  • Michael van Gerwen (4) v Adrian Lewis
  • Joe Cullen (13) v Damon Heta
  • James Wade (5) v Martin Lukeman
  • Luke Humphries (12) v Nathan Aspinall
  • Gerwyn Price (2) v Martin Schindler
  • Dave Chisnall (15) v Kim Huybrechts
  • Jose de Sousa (7) v Gabriel Clemens
  • Rob Cross (10) v Chris Dobey
  • Michael Smith (3) v Andrew Gilding
  • Dirk van Duijvenbode (14) v Ryan Searle
  • Gary Anderson (6) v Daryl Gurney
  • Danny Nopper (11) v Brendan Dolan

World Matchplay Outright Winner Betting Odds & Tips

The latest betting for the tournament sees Michael van Gerwen as the 5/1 favourite, but those odds are relatively long and they show that the Darts scene at the top level has become a much more level playing field in recent times.

Jonny Clayton is 13/2, with Gerwyn Price 7/1 and last year’s Champion Peter Wright at 8/1. Luke Humphries and Michael Smith are both 10/1 after finding some good form in recent months, while Dmitri Van den Bergh is 12/1 to repeat his success of two years ago.

Outside of those seven players, the odds do fall away sharply with Rob Cross 18/1, Danny Noppert 20/1 and then there are a large selection of players at odds of 50/1 or shorter.

In truth, it is very likely that the winner of the tournament will come from that top seven players in the list but you can make a strong case for any of them to win it.

As with many sports, form can be a key here and I think the two 10/1 shots, Michael Smith and Luke Humphries have that in their advantage here and both won’t mind the Matchplay format, especially if they can keep the form they have showed of late going.

As such, I’d back Luke Humphries to do well here at 10/1 and to claim the win.