Colin Lloyd hails World Matchplay field after line-up confirmed
Coverage of the World Matchplay gets underway on Sky Sports Action on Saturday, July 20 and continues through to the final on July 28
Last Updated: 03/07/19 2:43pm
Former champion Colin Lloyd is relishing the draw for the World Matchplay, insisting it brings together the very best world darts has to offer.
Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson headline the elite 32-man field for this month's cracker on the Lancashire coast that is as noticeable for the unseeded players in the field as those at the top of the game.
The PDC's annual fiesta in Blackpool is widely regarded as the second biggest tournament of the year, behind the World Championship.
In fact since the Worlds expanded to first 72 and now 96 players, there's an argument that the Matchplay is almost a tougher tournament to win given the calibre of player from first dart to last
World Matchplay on Sky Sports
Nine days of coverage from the legendary Winter Gardens gets underway on Saturday July 19 through to the final on Sunday July 28
Draw takes place on Sky Sports News on Tuesday July 9.
"It's a tough event to win, it's the top 16 in the world and the top 16 players from the year," Lloyd, the 2005 champion tells Sky Sports.
"You do not get much better than that, you're getting the cream, the crème de la crème as they say.
"It's the top boys and it's the atmosphere and ambience of the venue, everything it's just a great atmosphere in there - Blackpool just is what darts is. It's business darts."
Phil Taylor's domination of the event underlines the standard needed to win on the Winter Gardens stage - and also means his name adorns the famous Matchplay trophy after 16 seaside successes.
Van Gerwen has won it twice, however not since 2016, and has made no secret of his desire for more, while Anderson will return to the venue as the defending champion.
The Scot claimed a long overdue and much sought-after first Matchplay crown last year, beating Mensur Suljovic in a spectacular final that crowned arguably the tournament's greatest renewal.
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"Last year was fantastic but I think there is going to be absolute fireworks this year," says Lloyd, who will conduct the draw on Sky Sports News next week.
"Some of the games last year were sublime and I think this year it's really going to be one of the best Blackpool's there has ever been."
The field was confirmed at the weekend, when Jamie Hughes powered through the field to take the Czech Open title in Prague and the last available spot via the year's Pro Tour Order of Merit.
It's that qualification that makes the field so strong, the top 16 from the standard Order of Merit, taken over a two-year qualifying period, qualify first and they are followed by this year's top 16 - in theory the most in-form players in the field.
"What a line-up, what an absolute humdinger of a line-up," former world no 1 Lloyd adds.
"With Jamie Hughes he knew going into the Czech Open that he had to win it to qualify and he stormed it, he was absolutely brilliant, he played lovely.
"Throw Glen Durrant in the mix and the draw is going to be really tasty, for people watching it they'll see a nice couple of grins on my face. There are going to be a few people, the seeded players, they're going to be looking at the draw thinking I don't want him!
This year's 16 looks stronger than ever with Hughes joined by fellow Q-School graduate Durrant, who just so happens to be the three-time BDO world champion.
Some of the games brightest and most exciting talents are also in the field with Chris Dobey, Ricky Evans, Max Hopp, Danny Noppert, and all featuring for the first time while Jeffrey de Zwaan thrilled en route to the semi-final last year.
But there is also room for some of the games most loved names, Big John Henderson will be in town and Blackpool is sure to rock to the sound of the Highlander's Status Quo walk-on music.
Steve Beaton continues to roll back the years and 21 years after he featured in his first Matchplay, the Bronzed Adonis will be back for his 20th appearance, three short of The Power's record tally.
Lloyd clinched the title with a brilliant 170 check-out to beat John Part 14 years ago and admits that as well as the tournament itself, the venue plays its part in bringing the best out of the players.
"You can be down a bit and the fans start chanting your name, it gives you such a lift and because it's not an overly massive venue, you can just feel the tension, you could almost cut it.
"It gives you a buzz, and if any of those guys that will be there in a couple of weeks time don't get a buzz when they are waiting to walk on, they are in for a world of pain because you feel that tingle inside and it's great."
2019 Betfred World Matchplay Field
PDC Order of Merit Qualifiers (seeded for first round draw)
1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Rob Cross
3 Daryl Gurney
4 Gary Anderson
5 Michael Smith
6 Peter Wright
7 Gerwyn Price
8 James Wade
9 Mensur Suljovic
10 Ian White
11 Simon Whitlock
12 Dave Chisnall
13 Nathan Aspinall
14 Jonny Clayton
15 Darren Webster
16 Adrian Lewis
ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers
Jeffrey de Zwaan
Vincent van der Voort
You don't have to wait long until darts is back on Sky Sports, with every dart from every session in Blackpool and the World Matchplay. It starts on Saturday July 20 and the final is on Sunday July 28.