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Article: Snakebite Up For Matchplay Defence - RD Matchplay Draw

Snakebite Up For Matchplay Defence - RD Matchplay Draw

Peter Wright will return to the Winter Gardens as the defending champion and a two-time World Champion as he prepares to face Madars Razma in the first round of the Betfred World Matchplay.

Snakebite thrived in Blackpool playing sublimely - with his golden arrows - in defeating Dimitri van den Bergh 18-9 to win the Phil Taylor trophy last summer and will have eyes set on doubling up this year.

Madars Ramza will make his Winter Gardens debut and who is better than the World Number 1 for your opening match in the summer darting extravaganza. The popular Latvian has been on a steady upward curve and showed recently at the World Cup of Darts that he is one to watch.

It's been a steady year for Peter, since winning his second World Title back in January, having narrowly missed out on a spot in the Premier League Play-Offs despite being in the top 4 after every night except the important last night, losing a winner takes all match in Newcastle against Joe Cullen.

However, we all know the threat the World Number 1 possesses having the ability to find another gear and reel of consecutive legs, with many players struggling to keep up when Wright hits that purple patch.

The Scotsman has won one Pro Tour event so far this year, picking up Players Championship 2 after beating Gerwyn Price 8-5 in the Final with a 95.36 average. The Red Dragon star also beat Damon Heta 7-4 in the Semi-Finals averaging 104.58 in a repeat of their Third-Round match at the Alexandra Palace last year.

World No.2 Gerwyn Price has never won the World Matchplay title, with the Quarter Final stage the furthest he’s gone in Blackpool in both 2015 and 2021. The Iceman also struggled in the Premier League this year finishing seventh in the table, it will only take a rested and firing Welsh Dragon to inspire fear in the other 31 players in the tournament.

The Welshman has not been handed the easiest of draws, with debutant and German World Cup star Martin Schindler his first-round opponent at the Winter Gardens. The German international is enjoying his best year on the PDC circuit, having reached the Semi-Finals in Players Championship 20 on Saturday losing to Boris Koltsov.

An encounter with Dave Chisnall or Kim Huybrechts awaits the winner of the first-round clash, well it is the Matchplay and there are no easy games.

Red Dragon star Price has won once on the Pro Tour this year, winning Players Championship 7 after beating Madars Razma 8-4 in the Final with an average of 101.02 in Niederhausen. The Markham ace also staged a sensational comeback against Rob Cross in the Semi-Finals coming from 6-2 down to beat the 2018 World Champion 7-6.

More recently the 37-year-old also reached the Final of the World Cup with partner Jonny Clayton as the pair lost 3-1 in the Final to Australia represented by Simon Whitlock and Damon Heta. Gezzy will be very keen to add the Matchplay to his roll of honour that includes the World Grand Prix and 3 Grand Slams,

Luke Humphries is perhaps the most in form Red Dragon man and has been the king of the Euro Tour in 2022 having picked up four titles. Cool Hand has been handed a tough opener against Nathan Aspinall in the First Round with both players picking up one title so far on the Pro Tour.

The Newbury ace has had the better year of the two, winning the Czech Darts Open and recently the European Darts Matchplay, beating another Blackpool debutant this year in Rowby-John Rodriguez 8-7 in the Final.

Humphries’ best run in the Matchplay came last year when he reached the Last 16, beating James Wade 10-3 before losing to Krzysztof Ratajski 11-5 who went on to reach the Semi-Finals.

The Englishman is ranked number 12 for the tournament and could see a potential rematch with James Wade in the second round should he win his match with Aspinall. That will depend upon The Machine overcoming his first-round opponent, debutant Martin Lukeman, who Luke beat 8-2 in a European Tour final, having averaged over 107 in beating Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen 7-0 in the Semis.

Jonny Clayton who finished top of this year's Premier League could face Dimitri van den Bergh in a blockbuster Second Round match. The Ferret must get past his First-Round match which will be against the in-form Rowby-John Rodriguez who guaranteed the last qualification spot for Blackpool finishing 16th on the Pro Tour Order of Merit.

The Pontyberem ace will have been disappointed to not defend his Premier League title having been the only player to record four-night wins in the new look format and coming top of a table that included the World’s top 8 players

The World Number 8 is looking to add the World Matchplay to his list of the game's most prestigious titles. Blackpool is yet to prove a happy hunting ground for The Ferret although Clayton beat Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-7 in the second match of the opening night last year but lost to his Welsh compatriot Gerwyn Price 11-3 as the Iceman won the all-Red Dragon battle.

The PDC’s World Matchplay kicks of on Saturday with the biggest names in the sport looking to lift the Phil Taylor trophy. The competition kicks off, from Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens, this Saturday and will be live on Sky Sports.

The inaugural World Women's Matchplay will also take place on Sunday, July 24th with the World Top 8 Ladies battling it out for the first fully televised PDC Ladies major.

By Harry Masterson

2022 World Matchplay Draw

Last 32:

Peter Wright (1) v Madars Razma

Krzysztof Ratajski (16) v Stephen Bunting

Jonny Clayton (8) v Rowby-John Rodriguez

Dimitri van den Bergh (9) v Callan Rydz

Michael van Gerwen (4) v Adrian Lewis

Joe Cullen (13) v Damon Heta

James Wade (5) v Martin Lukeman

Luke Humphries (12) v Nathan Aspinall

Gerwyn Price (2) v Martin Schindler

Dave Chisnall (15) v Kim Huybrechts

Jose de Sousa (7) v Gabriel Clemens

Rob Cross (10) v Chris Dobey

Michael Smith (3) v Andrew Gilding

Dirk van Duijvenbode (14) v Ryan Searle

Gary Anderson (6) v Daryl Gurney

Danny Noppert (11) v Brendan Dolan

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