World Matchplay Darts: Field of 32 players confirmed, with five making their debut

Michael van Gerwen (Picture: Lawrence Lustig)
Michael van Gerwen (Picture: Lawrence Lustig)

Five players will make their BetVictor World Matchplay debuts at the Winter Gardens later this month, while Michael van Gerwen will be the top seed for the prestigious 32-player event.

The 25th staging of the World Matchplay at Blackpool's Winter Gardens will be held from July 21-29, as players compete for "The Phil Taylor Trophy" after the renaming of the honour following the 16-time champion's retirement.

Two-time champion van Gerwen will top the 16 seeded players, with the world number one aiming to win back the title he claimed in 2015 and 2016.

James Wade, the 2007 champion, is the only other former World Matchplay winner in the field, although number two seed Peter Wright, number 13 seed Raymond van Barneveld and number 16 seed Adrian Lewis have all reached the final.

Lewis' move back to 16th in the world rankings sets the two-time World Champion up for a tasty potential second-round tie with Van Gerwen, while Van Barneveld could clash with number four seed Gary Anderson.

However, following the completion of the weekend's European Darts Matchplay in Hamburg, the qualifying field has been confirmed and includes five Blackpool debutants in a strong line-up.

Welshman Jonny Clayton and Germany's Max Hopp secured their World Matchplay debuts following European Tour victories this year, while Jeffrey de Zwaan won his maiden Players Championship title in April.

Another Dutchman, Jermaine Wattimena, and Ireland's Steve Lennon complete the five new faces amongst a high-quality field of ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers.

Richard North held on to claim the final ProTour Order of Merit place, but faced a nervous wait as William O'Connor reached Sunday's European Darts Matchplay final, only to lose out to Van Gerwen as the Romsey ace sealed his Blackpool spot.

The draw for the BetVictor World Matchplay is expected to be made on Wednesday July 4.

2018 BetVictor World Matchplay
PDC Order of Merit Qualifiers (Seeded for draw)
1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Rob Cross
4 Gary Anderson
5 Daryl Gurney
6 Mensur Suljovic
7 Simon Whitlock
8 Dave Chisnall
9 Michael Smith
10 James Wade
11 Ian White
12 Gerwyn Price
13 Raymond van Barneveld
14 Darren Webster
15 Kim Huybrechts
16 Adrian Lewis

ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers
Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen
Stephen Bunting
Max Hopp
Mervyn King
Jermaine Wattimena
Steve West
Steve Beaton
Kyle Anderson
James Wilson
John Henderson
Keegan Brown
Jelle Klaasen
Steve Lennon
Jeffrey De Zwaan
Richard North

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