Taylor and Barney set for World Matchplay Showdown!

Photo: Ben Hoskins (Getty Images)
Photo: Ben Hoskins (Getty Images)

Jelle Klaasen defeated Ian White 6-2 in Sunday’s Players Championship event in Wigan, to claim his first Pro Tour victory for 8 years! In addition, the participants for the World Matchplay, which commences on July 18th, have now been officially confirmed, ahead of tomorrow’s eagerly awaited draw.

Klaasen defeated Mark Dudbridge and Gerwyn Price in the earlier rounds to set up an enthralling last 16 clash with Adrian Lewis. The Dutchman narrowly edged out Jackpot 6-4, before comfortably progressing to the final following comprehensive 6-2 victories over Daryl Gurney and Rowby John Rodriguez respectively. Klaasen then defeated White by the same scoreline to claim only his 2nd ever PDC title.

Whilst White will be disappointed to miss out on victory, this represents a fine weekend’s work for the Diamond, after he reached the quarter-finals of Saturday’s event. This elevates White up to 9th in the World; his highest ranking since joining the PDC ranks.

Raymond van Barneveld’s qualification was confirmed earlier today, despite Kim Huybrechts providing the Five-Time World Champion with a real scare after reaching yesterday’s final. Huybrechts trailed van Barneveld by £13,750 on the PDC Order of Merit and had to reach one final and win one event to jump above the 48-year-old Dutchman.

However, he reached the final on Saturday, losing 6-5 to an inspired James Wade, who retrieved a 5-3 deficit to secure victory due to some powerful scoring and typically clinical finishing. Raymond opted not to enter this weekend’s Pro Tour events, as he is currently enjoying a holiday in Las Vegas and recharging his batteries ahead of a defining tournament in Blackpool.

Van Barneveld is seeded 15th for the event, which could potentially set up a mouth-watering second round clash with 2nd seed Phil Taylor, should both veterans progress through their first-round encounters.

Taylor was present in Wigan and reached the last 16 on both days; losing to Ian White and Peter Wright respectively. Taylor is aiming to win his eighth successive World Matchplay title and continue his remarkable affinity with the Winter Gardens; however his draw looks exceedingly difficult this year.

If Taylor is to reach the final, he may have to overcome van Barneveld, Dave Chisnall and Gary Anderson. Nevertheless, the 16-time World Champion will inevitably relish the challenge of defending the coveted title and given his consistency over the long formats; he will pose an extremely ominous threat.

Kyle Anderson’s impressive form over the weekend saw him edge out former World-Champion Mark Webster to seal a qualification spot via the Pro Tour Order of Merit. Anderson progressed to the quarter-finals on Saturday, before reaching the third-round stage on Sunday.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kyle recently; he is an extremely humble and outgoing individual and given the immense sacrifices he has made to perform week-in-week-out on the Pro Tour this year, I’m delighted that he was been rewarded. However, it will be a shame to see Mark Webster miss out; the Welshman is a class act on and off the oche and after some troubling times, his form does appear to be returning. However, Webster added on twitter that his daughter is due to be born in just three weeks; so he certainly has plenty to look forward to.

International Darts Open runner-up Benito van de Pas will make his Winter Gardens debut, alongside 2014 World Youth Champion Keegan Brown. Gerwyn Price, Joe Murnan and Australian ace Anderson will also be making their first appearances in Blackpool.

Wes Newton and Paul Nicholson, who contested a particularly attritional second-round clash in last year’s tournament, have both failed to qualify, following underwhelming tour performances in 2015 thus far. Kevin Painter and Ronnie Baxter, two Winter Garden veterans; also failed to make the cut. Painter has featured at the Matchplay for 14 consecutive years, whilst Baxter has been an ever-present, having competed in the tournament since 1997.

This represents a changing of the guard somewhat. Painter and Baxter are both still very capable; but the likes of van de Pas, Jamie Lewis, Keegan Brown are all continuing to emerge and upstage the more experienced and decorated professionals.

Michael Smith also continues to impress, having risen to an all-time ranking high of 13th in the PDC Order of Merit. Smith could potentially meet Adrian Lewis in the last 16; given the scoring prowess and electric pace possessed by both; that could be a captivating contest!

However, the seeded players will have to perform at their very best given the strength of the unseeded participants. Kim Huybrechts, Vincent van der Voort, Jelle Klaasen, Stephen Bunting and Jamie Caven are just a selection of those who are unseeded.  The draw will take place LIVE on Sky Sports News at 10:30am on Monday morning, with the schedule of play being confirmed shortly afterwards.

PDC Order of Merit Qualifiers

Seeded for First Round Draw

  1. Michael van Gerwen
  2. Phil Taylor
  3. Gary Anderson
  4. Adrian Lewis
  5. Peter Wright
  6. James Wade
  7. Dave Chisnall
  8. Simon Whitlock
  9. Ian White
  10. Robert Thornton
  11. Brendan Dolan
  12. Mervyn King
  13. Michael Smith
  14. Terry Jenkins
  15. Raymond van Barneveld
  16. Justin Pipe

ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers

  1. Kim Huybrechts
  2. Jelle Klaasen
  3. Vincent van der Voort
  4. Benito van de Pas
  5. Stephen Bunting
  6. Mensur Suljovic
  7. Gerwyn Price
  8. Steve Beaton
  9. Jamie Caven
  10. John Henderson
  11. Keegan Brown
  12. Andrew Gilding
  13. Jamie Lewis
  14. Joe Murnan
  15. Kyle Anderson
  16. Andy Hamilton
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