Three-time world champion John Part looks ahead to the World Matchplay Darts and tries to predict the finalists - while he also has a speculative 400/1 each-way bet.
The sport's second biggest major takes place at the iconic Winter Gardens (July 21-29) and we've teamed up once again with the legendary Darth Maple to preview the action.
Part, a two-time runner-up in Blackpool in 2002 and 2005, will be commentating for Sky Sports during what promises to be a thrilling week of darts but before then he hopes to put you on the right path to profits.
John Part's Picks
- James Wade each-way to win the World Matchplay - Click here to back it at 28/1 with Sky Bet
- MVG v James Wade final - Click here to back it at 14/1 with Sky Bet
- Steve Beaton each-way to win the World Matchplay - Click here to back it at 400/1 with Sky Bet
- Steve Beaton to beat Mensur Suljovic - Click here to back it at 10/3 with Sky Bet
Scroll down for his full analysis of both halves of the draw
- Click here for the World Matchplay Draw & Schedule
- Listen to John Part in the World Matchplay Podcast special
- Click here for player-by-player guide
- Click for Chris Hammer's World Matchplay tips
Top half of the draw analysis
It’s hard to pick out any underdog and say there’s going to be an upset in the first round but on the other hand they’re all capable enough and you can see the story that all the favourites potentially lose.
Sometimes you have your eye looking ahead in the draw – even though you don’t admit it – and are a little concerned about what’s potentially up next or the overall quality and that can open you up to a loss.
You want to be a dangerous outsider in the bottom half and then the world’s your oyster!
That said, in the tough halves the hard work can get done for you because there’s so much quality in it. The best players you could meet might get knocked out by someone else. It doesn’t have to be too bad getting a ‘bad’ draw.
Michael will be looking down the line of who he’ll most likely have to beat and he’s got Adrian Lewis, Michael Smith and then Gary Anderson in the semi-finals. It’s as tough a line-up as he could have imagined just to reach the final.
Despite what some people think, the seeding isn’t designed to make it easier for the higher ranked players – it’s just to create an even spread of talent. But somehow this year the draw does seem to be loaded into the top half. It looks like a meat grinder to get through there.
I do expect to see MVG and Anderson in the semi-final – they just have too much quality to predict them being upset, despite how the draw looks so dangerous.
Bottom half of the draw analysis
Rob Cross is the world champion and the favourite to come through this half although he doesn’t have the same pressure on him that he experienced earlier in the season.
Most of the pressure is now squarely on Michael van Gerwen to live up to the expectation of being the best.
I don’t think people put that tag on Cross at this moment in time, especially because he hasn’t quite played as well as he did during his incredible debut year.
He’s still been very good but perhaps not as consistently average wise, and this tournament in particular is about performance quality due to it being the long matchplay format. You can’t afford to be off for a few legs as you’ll fall too far behind.
As far as outsiders go, I’m tempted by that massive price of 400/1 on Steve Beaton!
He starts off against Mensur Suljovic, who he has an 8-0 record against, and the way the draw could open up means he’s an absolute steal of a price.
If he comes through that he’d then meet either Ian White or Max Hopp in the second round and there’s no guarantee Cross will be a quarter-final opponent.
Cross has been averaging in the 90s recently and that’s where his first-round opponent Mervyn King lives, so that could be a very competitive match.
In the other match in this quarter you have Darren Webster up against youngster Steve Lennon, who is proving himself to be very dangerous but probably lacks overall quality and experience at the moment.
Basically anything can happen in this bottom half and Beaton’s experience could help him keep it together more than his rivals in the latter stages.
Even if he does play Cross in the quarters, he won’t be too bothered. He’s won two of their last five and the ones he lost were by the odd leg.
In the other quarter of this bottom half is James Wade, who has enjoyed a very solid year and is looking more like the James Wade of seven or eight years ago.
His consistency is up and quality of play is gradually improving while he’ll always have the slippery ability of getting through matches when he isn’t playing his best.
He’s the most experienced winner in the bottom half so also looks a great price at 33/1.
Wade's rivals in his quarter are very beatable for him so his first serious threat could be Peter Wright in the quarter-finals. And on current form there’s no reason why he can’t get through that too.
If you don't fancy Beaton or Wade yourselves, everything down there is a bargain!
Naming the finalists
I can’t look past MVG to reach the final from the top half, and he’ll probably lift the trophy for the third time, but picking his opponent is trickier.
Obviously my each-way bet on Steve Beaton is a speculative value call rather than in expectation so in the bottom half my main prediction is James Wade.
It’s perhaps a little outside of the box but he has a lot of experience in Blackpool, and has played more Matchplay matches than anyone here behind Phil Taylor.
I have a feeling he’s going to have a cool frame of mind without any real pressure – something you can’t say about Peter Wright and Rob Cross.
Going one year without winning it is long enough for Michael van Gerwen and he’ll be so focused on reclaiming it.
He’ll be secretly happy Phil Taylor’s name is on the trophy rather than in the draw and his main danger in the competition is, as usual, Gary Anderson.
But if they do meet he’ll have better stamina in what would be a best of 33 legs encounter.
Tournament draw & bracket
- (1) Michael van Gerwen v Jeffrey de Zwaan
- (16) Adrian Lewis v James Wilson
- (8) Dave Chisnall v Keegan Brown
- (9) Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton
- (5) Daryl Gurney v Steve West
- (12) Gerwyn Price v Joe Cullen
- (4) Gary Anderson v Stephen Bunting
- (13) Raymond van Barneveld v Kyle Anderson
- (2) Peter Wright v Jelle Klaasen
- (15) Kim Huybrechts v John Henderson
- (7) Simon Whitlock v Richard North
- (10) James Wade v Jermaine Wattimena
- (6) Mensur Suljovic v Steve Beaton
- (11) Ian White v Max Hopp
- (3) Rob Cross v Mervyn King
- (14) Darren Webster v Steve Lennon