World Matchplay Draw: Defending champion Cross faces debutant Clemens in opener
Rob Cross will begin his Betfred World Matchplay defence against German debutant Gabriel Clemens after the draw for the prestigious staging was revealed.
The tournament will be held away from Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens for the first time since its 1994 inception as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, the 27th edition of the well respected event will be held behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, with broadcasters Sky Sports supplying coverage as usual.
Nevertheless, a star-studded field of 32 players, including four debutants, will provide nine days of sought after entertainment in the PDC’s second longest running major.
Defending champion Cross will commence his fourth World Matchplay campaign with a tough contest with former German Darts Masters finalist Clemens.
Michael van Gerwen celebrating during last year’s World Matchplay (Photography: Chris Sargeant)
World number one Michael van Gerwen will be bidding to secure a first title since 2016 after enduring a four-year drought at the World Matchplay.
The two-time champion will take on Brendan Dolan in the first round, with the Northern Irishman returning to the prestigious tournament after a four-year absence.
Reigning world champion Peter Wright, who recently topped the PDC Summer Series Order of Merit in Milton Keynes, will take on the Portuguese sensation Jose de Sousa.
Both Wright and de Sousa recorded a staggering eleven ton-plus averages across the five days during the Summer Series, and their opening round contest could prove a thrilling affair at the same venue.
2018 World Matchplay champion Gary Anderson will face the resurgent Justin Pipe – who returns to the tournament for the first time in three years, while another former winner James Wade takes on Keegan Brown.
Three-time world champion Glen Durrant, who reached the semi-finals last year on his Blackpool debut, will lock horns with Jeffrey de Zwaan, as world number three Gerwyn Price faces another Dutchman in Danny Noppert.
Last year’s runner-up Michael Smith will be up against Welshman Jonny Clayton in a mouth-watering first round contest, while world number seven Daryl Gurney takes on Ricky Evans in a repeat of the German Darts Championship final.
Former UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall will be hoping to end his World Matchplay duck as he takes on debutant and two-time world youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh.
Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski continues his rapid rise up the rankings and faces Jermaine Wattimena as 13th seed, while Dave Chisnall takes on Vincent van der Voort.
Steve Beaton continues his remarkable qualifying streak for the prestigious tournament (Photography: Chris Sargeant)
Steve Beaton will make his 20th World Matchplay appearance in succession up against two-time world champion Adrian Lewis, as last year’s quarter-finalist Joe Cullen faces Ian White.
Mensur Suljovic and Simon Whitlock are also amongst the seeded competitors in Milton Keynes and first round battles with ProTour winners Jamie Hughes and Ryan Joyce await them.
The World Matchplay commences on Saturday at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes live on Sky Sports, with the schedule to be confirmed in due course.
(1) Michael van Gerwen v Brendan Dolan
(16) Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce
(8) Gary Anderson v Justin Pipe
(9) James Wade v Keegan Brown
(4) Rob Cross v Gabriel Clemens
(13) Krzysztof Ratajski v Jermaine Wattimena
(5) Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton
(12) Mensur Suljovic v Jamie Hughes
(2) Peter Wright v Jose De Sousa
(15) Glen Durrant v Jeffrey de Zwaan
(7) Daryl Gurney v Ricky Evans
(10) Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort
(3) Gerwyn Price v Danny Noppert
(14) Adrian Lewis v Steve Beaton
(6) Nathan Aspinall v Dimitri Van den Bergh
(11) Ian White v Joe Cullen
PDC Order of Merit Qualifiers
1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Michael Smith
6 Nathan Aspinall
7 Daryl Gurney
8 Gary Anderson
9 James Wade
10 Dave Chisnall
11 Ian White
12 Mensur Suljovic
13 Krzysztof Ratajski
14 Adrian Lewis
15 Glen Durrant
16 Simon Whitlock
ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers
Jose de Sousa
Jeffrey de Zwaan
Dimitri Van den Bergh
Vincent van der Voort
(Featured Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)