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We look ahead to the Betfair World Matchplay and wonder if a "stopper" can halt the flow of the top seeds to the final!

The Betfair World Matchplay

Posted: 15.07.12 in Tournament Analysis Blog category

We look ahead to the Betfair World Matchplay and wonder if a "stopper" can halt the flow of the top seeds to the final!


The World Matchplay following the last PDC tournament in June,The Speedy Hire UK Open, is a good example of the yin and yang of the PDC. These two are polar opposite events. One has the Speedy Hire and Rileys qualifiers mixed in with “the pack” (the players you often only hear about during PDC Players' Championships weekends) and of course the top players who have made it to,or are battling for a coveted top 32 place in the PDC rankings. The Matchplay on the other hand has no time for plucky qualifiers (that’s a PDC description not mine), it is just the higher echelons of the PDC that are invited to Blackpool, and what a high quality group of 32 it is!

The darting talent competing is mind boggling. The big six are there of course, Taylor, Lewis, Anderson, Wade, Barney and Whitlock. Mix in some really young talent, Hubbard and Smith, some young talent, Chizzy and Huybrechts and some of the good old boys, Baxter, King, Beaton, Burnett and Jenkins and you end up with a fantasy darts tournament. Er yes, I am looking forward to it!

The UK Open, “The FA Cup of Darts”, did this year what it says on the tin and Robert Thornton, whilst by no means a “plucky qualifier”, but certainly a huge outsider and underdog in betting terms, came from nowhere to snatch the title from Phil Taylor. Will the Matchplay follow its image; that of being of high quality and the best darts can offer, and produce a semi final comprising of the 4 seeds battling it out for a place in the final? This would be Taylor, Lewis, Wade and Anderson.

I fear most for Gary Anderson out of those four. His form has been sporadic throughout the year and his well publicised personal life has been blamed for that. On top of that it transpires he has had problems with his eyes and is struggling to focus with his left eye. There  is  an update here.  Anderson is up against Dean Winstanley, a BDO graduate who has qualified via consistent if not spectacular progress through the PDC floor tournaments but he is more than capable of turning over an out of sorts Anderson as his record on the Darts Database site demonstrates.

What about Barney, is he in with a shout?  Every tournament it seems one TV pundit or another announces the reincarnation of Raymond . “I have a sneaky feeling for Barney” the pundits whisper at the start of every tournament, only to be left shaking their heads in unison with Van Barneveld as he crashes out, yet again!

Someone will definitely flag Barney for the Matchplay and probably use the “form is temporary, class is permanent” theory. Why? Well Barney scores highly in both areas at the moment. Form wise he is hot off a victory in the last PDC floor event in July-a European tournament in Dussledorf. Barney beat Chisnall in the final. Class wise, there is no argument of course, the Dutchman has the technique and titles to qualify for that accolade.

Before the Barney fans get too excited though a note of caution. The “in form” argument doesn’t seem to work. Thornton was bundled out in the 4th and 3rd round of the floor tournament just prior to his UK Open victory. The Thorn beat Chizzy in the semi finals of the UK Open and it was Dave Chisnall who should have been the “form horse”, he had won both of the weekend floor tournaments just prior to the UK Open! The event before that, The Players Championship in Doncaster (excluding the Worlds as there is no pre-tournament floor event for that) was won by Kevin Painter. He was knocked out in the 3rd round on the first day of the PDC floor tournament just before taking the title in Doncaster and didn’t even enter the next day! Oh yes, Barney also has to play Michael Smith, the 250-1 outsider in the first round, a walkover for Barney according to the bookies, I can’t wait for that one.

Taylor, Lewis and Wade rightly head the betting as possible champions. All three revel in the longer format game and with a best of 19 legs from the first round are the obvious choices.  During my occasional viewing of Wimbledon 2012 Jimmy Connors (a handy tennis player from back in the day for our younger readers) offered his usual insightful and intelligent thoughts to the commentary. He described one player as a “stopper”. A stopper, in Connors' view is a player capable of beating any other player on their day but then never quite being able to keep the form going to win the title.

We openly admit to borrowing ideas from other sports if they can help dart players. We have golf, tennis and ideas from football in our darts improvement site. Whilst the concept of a stopper is not a coaching point as such it is very relevant to PDC darts, especially during the recent reign of The Power and we are going to borrow it.

It may seems harsh to label say Simon Whitlock, Terry Jenkins, Wes Newton and if he doesn’t take a PDC title in the next few years we could maybe add Dave Chisnall to the list too as stoppers, but it does seem apt! They are all fantastic players, capable of beating the best, but...

As I have spectacularly failed to come up with one single Blackpool pun in this blog have this instead. There are new sponsors for the Matchplay this year-Betfair, the online betting exchange. I am still trying to find out if they will be charging the players commission on their winnings during the tournament and will report back on that later. Actually, maybe a pun would have been better!

Whether it is Barney, a stopper or The Power who towers over the rest in Blackpool it is going to be a cracking week of darts. 


The Darts Performance Centre is a resource to assist dart players of all standards play better darts. The site is arranged as an on-line coaching manual. There is advice on technique, nerves, psychology, goal setting, practice games, an area to log your statistics and an interactive area where your darting questions are answered by two sports scientists, one with 30 years dart playing experience! Membership is just £25.00 per annum. 


Author: Paul Gillings ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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