World Matchplay live on Sky Sports with Michael van Gerwen out to defend his title
Last Updated: 16/07/16 6:42pm
Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson headline the stellar cast for the World Matchplay which starts on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
Christmas is all about the World Championship but summer is about the seaside and Blackpool's legendary Winter Gardens, which hosts one of darts most prestigious events.
Alongside the Worlds and the Premier League, the Matchplay makes up the darts triple crown and all of the big names have their reasons for targeting the trophy.
MVG is the bookies favourite as he looks to defend the title he won for the first time last year, beating James Wade 18-12 in the showpiece final.
The Dutchman has reached the final in each of the last two years and has won 11 titles already this year, including the Premier League in May.
World Matchplay - Draw
|Michael van Gerwen (1)||v||Jamie Caven|
|Vincent van der Voort (16)||v||Kyle Anderson|
|Robert Thornton (8)||v||Josh Payne|
|Dave Chisnall (9)||v||Benito van de Pas|
|Peter Wright (5)||v||Joe Cullen|
|Ian White (12)||v||Daryl Gurney|
|Adrian Lewis (4)||v||Mark Webster|
|Kim Huybrechts (13)||v||Gerwyn Price|
|Gary Anderson (2)||v||Alan Norris|
|Terry Jenkins (15)||v||Justin Pipe|
|Michael Smith (7)||v||Simon Whitlock|
|Jelle Klaasen (10)||v||Steve Beaton|
|James Wade (6)||v||Mervyn King|
|Raymond van Barneveld (11)||v||Brendan Dolan|
|Phil Taylor (3)||v||Robbie Green|
|Stephen Bunting (14)||v||Mensur Suljovic|
With a favourable draw that sees him start against Jamie Caven before a possible second round meeting with Vincent van der Voort or Kyle Anderson, Mighty Mike will take all the beating once again.
Meanwhile Taylor heads to Blackpool looking for a 16th Matchplay title and it is arguably his best chance of another major crown, with the shorter format over legs likely to give him a better chance of adding to his haul.
The Power has only won the World Championship more than the Matchplay and amazingly he has won all 15 finals he has reached at the Winter Gardens, from his first title in 1995 to his last in 2014 when he beat Van Gerwen.
And Sky Sports expert Wayne Mardle envisages very different routes for the two men.
"I've got to say, Michael drawing Jamie Caven is a nice opener for him. Dave Chisnall, being the 8th seed - is the one he's got to stop," Mardle told Sky Sports.
"If he can, that puts him in the semi-finals, so Van Gerwen will be happy with his draw, I feel absolutely sure about that.
"The likelihood is that Phil would have to beat Gary Anderson in the semis to reach the final. That's probably the toughest he's ever had, because he's always been one and two seed and now he's No 3."
The only other former champion in the event is James Wade, the Machine claimed his first major title in 2007 when he beat Terry Jenkins in the final and he has reached the final of five other occasions, losing four to Taylor.
Sky Sports expert Rod Studd says there's no reason he can't go close again, despite being written off by some: "He loves the format, he loves the stage, and for James Wade to be dismissed in this tournament, I find absolutely astonishing."
Wade's record of six finals in ten years underlines his love of the event but he has a tough draw which starts with Mervyn King and is likely to include Raymond van Barneveld, Taylor and Anderson before a likely final with MVG.
King told Sky Sports Digital that the nature of the event makes it such a tough tournament to win: "It's a more difficult format.
"If you win three out of five legs, you're only two legs ahead. But if you do that when you're playing sets, you're a set ahead. It doesn't change the way I play - I try and come out of the blocks very quickly no matter what match I'm playing."
World champion Anderson heads to the Lancashire coast having never reached the final in Blackpool and making the semi-finals just once, but he is in fantastic form having claimed World Darts Series titles in Tokyo and Auckland over the last month.
The Flying Scotsman beat Adrian Lewis, another player with a surprisingly poor Blackpool record, in January to claim his second world title but he has a tough opening draw with big-scoring Alan Norris, who reached the World Championship quarter-finals, providing the opposition.
It will be interesting to see how the top eight players react to the travel demands over the last six weeks in an event that pits all of the world's top 32 players in shoot-out action over a 'best-of' format.
That could open the door for some of the next generation to make their mark. Benito van de Pas, Daryl Gurney, Josh Payne, Gerwyn Price and Joe Cullen have all impressed this season and while unseeded are dangerous floaters in the draw.
You can follow all the action across our digital platforms and on Sky Sports with the action getting underway on Saturday from 7pm and every night through to the final on Sunday July 24 #LoveTheDarts
World Matchplay - Schedule
|Saturday July 16|
|Vincent van der Voort||v||Kyle Anderson|
|Robert Thornton||v||Josh Payne|
|Michael van Gerwen||v||Jamie Caven|
|Dave Chisnall||v||Benito van de Pas|
|Sunday July 17|
|Stephen Bunting||v||Mensur Suljovic|
|Kim Huybrechts||v||Gerwyn Price|
|Terry Jenkins||v||Justin Pipe|
|Ian White||v||Daryl Gurney|
|James Wade||v||Mervyn King|
|Adrian Lewis||v||Mark Webster|
|Gary Anderson||v||Alan Norris|
|Peter Wrigh||v||Joe Cullen|
|Monday July 18|
|Jelle Klaasen||v||Steve Beaton|
|Raymond van Barneveld||v||Brendan Dolan|
|Phil Taylor||v||Robbie Green|
|Michael Smith||v||Simon Whitlock|
|Tuesday July 19|
|Thornton/Payne||v||Chisnall/van de Pas|
|Van Gerwen/Caven||v||Van der Voort/K Anderson|
|Wednesday July 20|
|Thursday July 21|
|van Gerwen/Caven/van der Voort/K Anderson||v||Thornton/Payne/Chisnall/van de Pas|
|Friday July 22|
|Saturday July 23|
|Sunday July 24|