World Matchplay Darts: Betting tips & best bets as MVG, Rob Cross and Gary Anderson eye Blackpool glory

It might be worth looking for value prices ahead of the World Matchplay darts
It might be worth looking for value prices ahead of the World Matchplay darts

Our darts betting expert Chris Hammer brings you his preview and best bets ahead of the BetVictor World Matchplay in Blackpool.

So you thought the summer of sport had already climaxed with the World Cup? Think again!

For darts fans around the globe, the real fun is yet to begin as 32 of world's elite - not to mention hundreds of stag do's - descend on Blackpool for the 25th staging of the sport's second biggest televised major.

The big old ballroom at the Winter Gardens has played host to many iconic moments down the years - not least Phil Taylor's fairytale 16th and final title here 12 months ago - but despite the Power's retirement, there'll be certainly no shortage of drama this time.

Such was Taylor's dominance of this event, only two men in the field know what it's like to be a World Matchplay champion - odds-on favourite Michael van Gerwen, who is seeking his third crown, and James Wade thanks to his triumph here way back in 2007.

With MVG finding himself in the wrong half of what looks a lopsided draw, (click here for draw & schedule) I reckon the rampant world number one is more vulnerable than usual and this gives us a better chance of finding a chunky priced winner.

I'll go through each quarter of the draw before naming my predicted finalists and at the very end will be my recommended outright bets. You may also find my player-by-player guide useful (click here to read) in which I analyse all 32 hopefuls in the field.

World Matchplay: First Quarter

Prediction: Michael Smith to win (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

Michael van Gerwen's reward for being top seed is being presented with an extremely tough route to get his hands on the Phil Taylor Trophy.

His first-round clash might seem easy on paper but his talented Dutch opponent Jeffrey de Zwaan defeated him in the opening round of this year's UK Open over the best-of-19 legs, so this is far from a formality.

De Zwaan is the lowest ranked player in the Order of Merit at 68 but he's deservedly qualified thanks to a superb season which also saw him claim his first senior PDC title at a Players Championship event. I for one wouldn't be that shocked if he does a number on MVG once again.


World Matchplay draw: Quarter One

  • (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

Click here for the odds on each player to win the quarter


Even if MVG does come through that early test unscathed, he's then likely to meet a revived Adrian Lewis who looks as though he's on his way back to top form after a very poor 2017.

I firmly believe Michael Smith will be waiting in the quarter-finals as the confident St Helens thrower looks to build further on what has been a real breakthrough season for him in terms of reaching the next level.

Bully Boy was among the favourites for Premier League relegation and 80/1 for the title but he made a mockery of those odds by brilliantly finishing runner-up to MVG in both the regular season and Grand Final.

He ended a run of four straight losses to van Gerwen at last weekend's Shanghai Darts Masters by brushing him aside 8-4 before thrashing Rob Cross 8-2 in the final to collect his third title of the season.

It's taken a while for the former world youth champion to become a proper contender for a major but now there's nobody he doesn't think he can beat. His time really could be now.

World Matchplay: Second Quarter

Prediction: Joe Cullen to win (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

Obviously Gary Anderson is favourite to win this section of the draw but we've seen the Flying Scotsman suffer shock early exits before and Stephen Bunting is a dangerous customer.

Next up could well be a clash with Raymond van Barneveld if the right Barney turns up against Kyle Anderson - but either of those two would give the world number four a run for his money.

The latter won their only meeting this year in the World Cup of Darts while their overall head-to-head record is three wins apiece. And we all know what Barney can do on his day.

Anderson has never reached the final in Blackpool and should he fail to reach the quarters, where the longer matchplay format will then suit his formidable talents, then step forward Joe Cullen.


World Matchplay draw: Quarter Two

  • (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

Click here for the odds on each player to win the quarter


The Rockstar has shown plenty of promise and potential over the past couple of years, winning two Players Championship titles in 2017 while this season he's reached five quarter-finals on the European Tour and one semi-final. It's encouraging to see him show consistency in front of the big crowds you get at these events.

A player-by-player guide to the World Matchplay
Click on the image for Chris Hammer's player-by-player guide to the World Matchplay

That semi-final defeat was an agonising 7-6 scoreline against Gerwyn Price in Austria having previously thrashed Michael Smith 6-2 so he's clearly getting to the level where I - and many of his fans - believe he's capable of.

I fancy him to get revenge on Price in what could be the match of the opening round, while he's beaten his likely second-round opponent Daryl Gurney five times out of eight meetings, including the last two.

World Matchplay: Third Quarter

Prediction: James Wade to win (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

As we head into the 'softer' second half of the draw, world number two Peter Wright is the favourite here to come through the third quarter at 11/10 but I'm not convinced of his chances.

Whereas 2017 was very much a landmark season in the career of Snakebite - winning his maiden televised title at the UK Open and also becoming just the fourth player ever to win 10 PDC tournaments in a calendar year - 2018 has been a bit of a let down.

He's only managed to win one Pro tour event, beating Rob Cross in the final, and failed to reach the play-offs in the Premier League after a disappointing campaign.

Snakebite has been reaching latter stages of tournaments, including two finals on the European Tour, but these days his standards are about getting the job done. And right now he's not doing that.

Instead I'm going to side with James Wade, who is returning to top form after a lean spell in the game which saw him lose his spot in the Premier League.

The Machine has seemingly been around forever and has played more games on this Winter Gardens stage than anyone else in the field. In fact only the retired Phil Taylor has played more.


World Matchplay draw: Quarter Three

  • (2) Peter Wright v Jelle Klaasen
  • (15) Kim Huybrechts v John Henderson
  • (7) Simon Whitlock v Richard North
  • (10) James Wade v Jermaine Wattimena

Click here for the odds on each player to win the quarter


But he's only 35 and has new-found hunger to challenge for major honours once again. On recent evidence there's no reason why the 2007 champion can't go far in Blackpool this week.

Wade's timing has always been his big weapon but in the past few tournaments he's been banging in big three-figure averages too against the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson. While he thrashed MVG 8-3 in Las Vegas he fell short against eventual champion Anderson in the semis despite averaging 101 and leading 6-2 at one point.

Check out John Part's tips for the World Matchplay
Click on the image for John Part's tips for the World Matchplay

He has Jermaine Wattimena first up then either Simon Whitlock or Richard North - and he'll be confident of seeing off any of those before a potential clash with Wright, who he beat in their last meeting earlier this year.

World Matchplay: Fourth Quarter

Prediction: Rob Cross to win (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

Whereas I've opposed the other quarter favourites, I'm pretty confident of Rob Cross sailing through this bottom section of the draw.

This time last year, the former electrician made his debut here ranked 49 in the world and 50/1 for glory but an incredible 12 months later he arrives as world champion and 7/1 second favourite.

While his rapid rise to world champion was such an incredible story, apart from the world title, he hasn't won a tournament away from the five he's managed on the floor - be it the majors, European Tour or World Series of Darts events.


World Matchplay draw: Quarter Four

  • (6) Mensur Suljovic v Steve Beaton
  • (11) Ian White v Max Hopp
  • (3) Rob Cross v Mervyn King
  • (14) Darren Webster v Steve Lennon

Click here for the odds on each player to win the quarter


Nevertheless he deserves a lot of credit for his debut Premier League campaign, which was a whole new experience for him from a routine and pressure perspective, and by reaching the play-offs he proved he's no flash in the pan.

He's coming into form having reached back-to-back finals at the US Darts Masters and Shanghai Masters and he should be confident of booking his place in just his third major final and first since becoming world champ.

Suljovic is the danger in this quarter but he's never defeated Steve Beaton in eight previous matches so he might fall at the first hurdle. Even if they do meet in the last eight, Cross has won five of their seven battles so won't be too concerned.

World Matchplay: Naming the finalists

Prediction: Michael Smith v Rob Cross final (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

As you may have already guessed I'm going with Michael Smith for the reasons I gave earlier and the fact he's far too big a price.

While I think Joe Cullen is a great price to be his semi-final opponent, it's obviously more likely he'll come up against his mentor Gary Anderson, who used to dominate their head-to-head meetings.

However the pair shared regular season wins in the Premier League before Bully Boy claimed bragging rights with a 10-6 victory in the semi-finals on play-off night and that will give him real belief should they clash in Blackpool.

I'm forecasting James Wade to meet Rob Cross in the other semi-final and while I think the Machine is great each-way value overall given the form he's in, I'm siding with Voltage as the more complete player when it all clicks.

That said, although Wade lost to Cross at last weekend's Shanghai Darts Masers, he's beaten the world champ in all their three other meetings this season, including during his runs to his two final appearances on the European and Pro Tours.

This is why I'll still be backing Wade each-way to win the title at a big price.

Recommended bets: World Matchplay

2pts Rob Cross to win the World Matchplay at 8/1 (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

1pt each-way Michael Smith to win the World Matchplay at 33/1 (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

0.5pts each-way James Wade to win the World Matchplay at 33/1 (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

1pt Michael Smith to win the first quarter at 10/1 (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

0.5pts Joe Cullen to win the second quarter at 14/1 (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

1pt James Wade to win the third quarter at 4/1 (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

0.5pts Michael Smith v Rob Cross final at 60/1 (Click here for Sky Bet odds)

Sporting Life's Dom and Chris talk all things World Matchplay with John Part
Click on the image to listen to John Part and the Sporting Life Darts team for free

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

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