Champ Headlines Opening Night

Red Dragon Darts

The World Matchplay returns to our screens tonight with four First Round matches to look forward to on the opening night at the Winter Gardens.

Reigning champion Peter Wright will take on debutant Madars Razma in the third match, whilst Premier League table topper Jonny Clayton faces another star making his first appearance in Rowby-John Rodriguez.

Snakebite beat Dimitri van den Bergh 18-9 in last year’s Final, having said before the tournament he was going to win the whole thing. The Scotsman is not at the level he was 12 months ago having only won once on the Pro Tour and missing out on a spot in Finals Night of the Premier League, losing a winner takes all battle with debutant Joe Cullen in Newcastle.

The Red Dragon star has reached the Final twice in Blackpool with a 50% success rate having lost to Phil Taylor back in 2017. His opponent from Latvia will provide a stern test for the reigning World Champion having represented his country at the recent World Cup of Darts, losing to number 1 seeds England in the Second Round with partner Nauris Gleglu.

Razzmatazz clinched a last leg decider against World Number 5 James Wade in Frankfurt, to force a deciding doubles game with the English duo. The 33-year-old will be wary of the colourful Scotsman but knows he has the game to beat anyone, enjoying a strong run to the Final of Players Championship 7 losing to Gerwyn Price.

Razma is no stranger to going for a treble nineteen so expect the same tonight and the love affair with the segment to continue in Blackpool tonight.
Jonny Clayton has not had the best of times in the Matchplay, having reached the Second-Round last year as his best achievement so far in the competition.

The Ferret will face another debutant in Rowby-John Rodriguez who has certainly discovered another gear to his game, having impressed on the Pro Tour and reaching the Final of the European Darts Matchplay, losing to Luke Humphries 8-7.
The Red Dragon star comes into the tournament full of confidence after reaching the Quarter Finals of Players Championship 20, losing to eventual winner Adrian Lewis who faces Michael van Gerwen tomorrow night. He also reached the Final of event 21 on Monday, again falling short this time to Brendan Dolan who will make his first appearance tomorrow afternoon.

Little John will be buzzing to play for the very first time on the iconic Winter Gardens stage, but his draw couldn’t have been any tougher. The 28-year-old Austrian reached the Final of the World Cup last year with partner Mensur Suljovic, and the confidence in his own ability is currently at an all time high so expect a high scoring affair to close out night one.

The winner of that match will face either 2020 champion Dimitri van den Bergh or Callan Rydz, who are second up tonight in Blackpool. The Riot reached the Quarter Finals last year and followed that up by reaching the Quarter Finals of the World Championships back in January at the Alexandra Palace.

The Dream Maker has enjoyed a successful time on the World Series stage so far, playing two tournaments this year and winning both in Denmark and Holland. The Belgian beat Gary Anderson 11-5 in the Final in Copenhagen and repeated the trick in Amsterdam against Dirk van Duijvenbode, averaging 104.60 in an 8-2 victory.

Last year’s Semi Finalist Krzysztof Ratajski will open the tournament as he prepares to face 2014 Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting for the chance to play either Wright or Razma in Round 2. The Polish Eagle has not hit the form he has in previous years, but his run at the Matchplay in 2021 saw victories over the likes of Brendan Dolan and Luke Humphries.

The man from St Helens has played in Blackpool a fair few times in his darting career and was arguably involved in one of the best games the iconic stage has ever seen.

The 2019 tournament saw The Bullet reach the Quarter Finals, and his First Round match with Gerwyn Price will always be remembered as a classic beating the Iceman 13-12 in a sudden death deciding leg.

The action gets underway live at 7pm tonight on Sky Sports with the summer darting entertainment starting today and continuing for the next eight days, as the top 32 players in the World and the Pro Tour battle it out for the Phil Taylor trophy in the iconic Winter Gardens.

World Matchplay 2022: Order of Play

Krzysztof Ratajski (16) v Stephen Bunting
Dimitri van den Bergh (9) v Callan Rydz
Peter Wright (1) v Madars Razma
Jonny Clayton (8) v Rowby-John Rodriguez



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