The opening round of the World Matchplay concludes inside the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Monday evening when the four remaining games of the opening part of the tournament get played out on what is likely to be a very hot stage.
We are yet to see the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson in this tournament but that will be rectified on Monday evening when both are part of a strong cast list looking to make it into the second round of the competition.
Daryl Gurney vs Ian White
The opening match of a decent card on Monday night sees the former semi-finalist of this tournament Daryl Gurney going up against Ian White, who has never been past the quarter final of this fine competition.
If you are looking for form going into this match you probably won’t find it as both have been very poor of late but I fancy Gurney might rise to the challenge here. I strongly suspect that his slump in form has been down to there being no crowds to feed off. I suspect White has slumped in form purely because he hasn’t put the work in which is so easy to do during the pandemic when motivation was tough for lots of people. White has never truly cracked the TV stage though and if Gurney gets into an early rhythm here I fancy he’ll grow in confidence and pull away with the win. If he can get White under pressure early on we may see missed doubles costing the Diamond so ‘Superchin’ will do for me in this one.
Nathan Aspinall vs Mervyn King
When the draw came out one of the standout ties of the first round was the one between Nathan Aspinall and Mervyn King which is second on the card on Monday evening with both men looking to make it through to the last 16.
Aspinall has been very tough to gauge in 2021. His form on the floor has been pretty ordinary for a man who up until this year was a contender in nearly every Pro Tour event, but despite that he put up a very good showing at the World Matchplay. King has been in much better order all year. He made a couple of quarter finals in the recent Super Series bunch of tournaments and in the majors he has been running well for a while having made the final of the Players Championship Finals and The Masters over the last nine months while also putting in solid performances at the World Championship. Interestingly these two have met twice, both over this distance, once here a couple of years ago and the other at The Masters earlier in the year, and King won 10-5 and 10-3. That might be significant and makes me think King is the value here.
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Michael van Gerwen vs Damon Heta
The penultimate match of the first round sees the former champion Michael van Gerwen looking to launch a title challenge when the Dutchman takes on the underrated and definitely not to be underestimated Damon Heta.
Heta showed his class when he won the Brisbane Masters a couple of years ago but if you were to be critical a couple of his recent TV performances have been dreadful and I have to be honest that tempers my enthusiasm regarding him in this match. Van Gerwen has been very patchy himself on the televised circuit in recent times and arrives here without a title of any sorts since he took down the Players Championship Finals at the end of November. With doubts over both men this is a pretty easy one to swerve.
Gary Anderson vs Stephen Bunting
The final match of the first round sees another former champion of this event in action when Gary Anderson meets Stephen Bunting in what should be a tasty conclusion to the evening should both men bring their best form to the stage.
I’ve already laid out the credentials for Bunting going well this week when backing him to win the quarter. He will be full of confidence from winning a Pro Tour event recently and it is only six months or so ago that he was competing in the semi-final of a World Championship. Anderson is hard to decipher at the minute. He is either very good or way off it. His very good form is still enough to beat anyone but the alternative is nowhere near good enough. He’s another who I sense might be inspired more by the crowd. I still think Bunting can win this but the fact I’m on him for the quarter is all the interest I need here.
Back D.Gurney to beat I.White for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Boylesports
Back him here:
Back M.King to beat N.Aspinall for a 3/10 stake at 2.25 with Betway