The Betfred World Matchplay will begin this coming Saturday and excitement is building ahead of the return of full capacity crowds at the Winter Gardens. There’s a star studded field in action, including seven debutants.

We take a look a look at the five favourites for this year’s title and five outsiders who will be looking to cause an upset in Blackpool.

Betfred World Matchplay
Who will lift the Phil Taylor trophy in Blackpool? Credit: PDC

The favourites

Jose de Sousa

The Grand Slam champion’s rise in the PDC has seen him become one of the favourites for the title here at the Winter Gardens. Some may argue that he is the best player in the world right now.

A runner-up at the Premier League and three Pro Tour titles in 2021 has seen his stock rise. However, there are a number of question marks surrounding the Special One. How will he cope with the return of crowds and the heat of the Blackpool stage? Will his counting let him down at the crucial moment?

One thing for sure is that De Sousa is a maverick on the dartboard and he will cause huge problems for the rest of the field.

PDC Super Series
Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Gerwyn Price

The World Champion and World number one has had a rather quiet 2021 thus far.

A positive Covid-19 test earlier in the year ruled him out of the Premier League and he has not played an awful lot of darts.

However, there were enough signs at the last Super Series, to suggest that his game is starting to come together. He will relish being introduced to the crowd as World Champion in Blackpool on Saturday night and there will be fire in the belly of the Iceman.

He will be a massive favourite to end his run of four consecutive first round exits against an out of form Jermaine Wattimena and he will be eying his fifth major title come Sunday week.

Gerwyn Prince playing at the World Darts Championship
Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Michael van Gerwen

The Green Machine is still waiting for his first title of the year heading into the World Matchplay.

Despite a rather barren run without a title by his own standards, his form looked good in the Super Series and it has taken some monumental performances to defeat him in recent majors. Dave Chisnall averaged 107 against him at the World Championship and Luke Humphries followed suit at the UK Open with the same average.

Although MvG hasn’t won the title in Blackpool since 2016, he is still considered by many as the best player in the World on top form. If he can manage to get through the early rounds, he will be incredibly tough to stop.

Michael van Gerwen playing at the World Darts Championship
Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Jonny Clayton

What a fabulous 2021 it has been so far for the man from Pontyberem. He won the Masters at the start of the year and added the Premier League crown to his ever growing trophy collection, alongside winning two titles on the floor.

He faces a massive test in the first round against Dirk Van Duijvenbode and could face his Welsh World Cup winning teammate Gerwyn Price in round two.

The Welshman seems to be fazed by little this year and he could continue his fairytale 2021 in Blackpool this week.

Jonny Clayton playing darts
Credit: Christopher Dean/PDC

Peter Wright

Snakebite was in a confident mood at the recent Super Series, stating that he would win both the Matchplay and the World Championships this year.

He won the title on the final day defeating Michael Van Gerwen, with a staggering 108 average, a third Pro Tour win of the year for the Scotsman.

However, his recent performances in television tournaments, would suggest he is anything but a favourite for the title here. He finished seventh in the Premier League and also suffered early exits at the World Darts Championship and UK Open.

He will likely use his new gold darts for his first round game against Danny Noppert and if he becomes comfortable with them, there’s no reason why he can’t win a maiden World Matchplay title.

The outsiders

Ryan Searle

Searle will make his debut at the Winter Gardens this year and faces Michael Smith in the first round.

It’s been well publicised that he’s been practicing with Gary Anderson at the moment and there’s been signs that his game is improving.

He became only the sixth player to average 100+ for a whole Super Series. If he continues that form into the World Matchplay, he’ll be a danger to any player. Searle has long been tipped to make a breakthrough and his time could come at the Winter Gardens.

Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Luke Humphries

Humphries is arguably the best placed outsider to make a run for the title.

He will face James Wade in the first round, his conqueror in this year’s UK Open final. He has also been drawn in the second quarter, which on paper, is not as daunting as the remaining three.

Cool Hand Luke looked excellent on his run to the UK Open final, defeating Dave Chisnall and Michael Van Gerwen along the way.

The former World Youth Champion could cause a ripple in Blackpool.

Credit: PDC

Dirk van Duijvenbode

The Aubergenius was one of the most inform players during 2020.

A runner up at the World Grand Prix, coupled with quarter final appearances at the World Championships and Players Championships, has seen him establish himself as a very dangerous player on the circuit.

He’s also won a Pro Tour this year and despite not having an outstanding last Super Series, the Dutchman still remains one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the field.

Credit: PDC

Stephen Bunting

The Bullet will be full of confidence heading to the Winter Gardens.

He won his first title since 2016 at the most the recent Super Series, beating Dimitri Van den Burgh, Gerwyn Price and Raymond van Barneveld on the way. Bunting also reached the World Championship semi finals at the start of the year.

However, the Bullet will have to improve his record in Blackpool if he’s to progress. He’s only made it past the second round once in six appearances, but will fancy his chances against Gary Anderson on Monday night.

Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Chris Dobey

Chris Dobey made a remarkable run to his first PDC title at the last Super Series and as secured qualification for his second Matchplay appearance as a result.

He has made good progress this year, reaching the last 16 at the Masters and the UK Open.

Dobey has the monkey off his back of winning a title now and when on form, he can prove a major threat to the field. He lost in the first round to eventual winner Rob Cross in 2019, and will relish playing in front of the crowd once again at the Winter Gardens.

Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

How can I follow the Betfred World Matchplay?

The Betfred World Matchplay will be live on Sky Sports in the UK. You can also watch it outside the UK via the PDC’s broadcast partners, such as RTL or DAZN.

You can also live stream the event. Find out more here.

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