Blackpool’s Winter Garden’s once again provides the stage for one of darts’ most prestigious prizes, as the planet’s leading arrow-flingers converge for the World Matchplay Championships.
There’s a few headline names heading to the oche for the opening night, and we’ve bundled them together to bring you a pleasingly-priced treble, which will pay out at over 6/1 if the required business is done…
Simon Whitlock to beat Kevin Painter with a 2.5 leg handicap @ 5/6
The Artist has a pretty poor matchplay record, having crashed out of this tournament at this early stage a couple of times in recent years, but Painter did make it to the quarter-finals at the Winter Gardens in 2010.
However, arrows wizard Whitlock went one further that year – his first in Blackpool – before going out in the semi-finals to Phil Taylor.
After pounding Painter 4-0 in December’s PDC World Championship third round, Whitlock should make short work of the Essex man here.
Michael van Gerwen to beat Steve Beaton with a 5.5 leg handicap @ 11/10
Former BDO World Champion (in 1996, mind) Beaton will live up to his name superbly in the north west.
PDC champion Van Gerwen won this outright two years ago and was only stopped in his tracks in 2013 by eventual losing finalist Adrian Lewis.
The last time Beaton reached the last four in Blackpool was 2001, so don’t expect the 50-year-old to put up much of a fight against the Green Machine.
Ian White to beat Terry Jenkins @ 10/11
A tough first-round clash to call, as White has made the Winter Gardens last-16 in each of the past two seasons, while Jenkins has contested the final twice since 2007.
However, ‘Diamond’ White has been bang inform since this campaign began, with two final appearances already in 2014.
The 43-year-old only just failed to make the last four at Ally Pally by the narrowest of margins over Christmas and gets the nod to edge past his southern competitor.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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