Retrospect and Preview
In 2015 the World Matchplay will take place for the 22. time in Blackpool. Different from other PDC Majors the World Matchplay was played
from the beginning till today in the same town in the same venue - the Empress Ballroom of the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. The Empress
Ballroom is an impressive though due to the weather sometimes very warm setting.as it is listed as historic building there is no air
condition. The date never differed much either - it only changedfrom the end of July to mid-July.
The tournament frequently delighted the fans with special highlights. That already started in the very first year when the American Larry
Butler won the tournament despite the strong resistance of the UK Top Players. 2002 it was during this tournament that Phil Taylor threw
the first ever televised nine-darter. And in 2012 there even were two nine-darters - one by Michael van Gerwen and one by the local player
Wes Newton - who didn't manage to qualify this year. The same happened to the second local player Ronnie Baxter who took part in the
tournaments 17 times in a row and even reached the semi-finals in 2012.
But when you look at the field of participants Baxter and Newton are not the only well-known players who will not appear this year. 2005,
only ten years ago, Colin Lloyd was the World's number 1, today you don't hear much about him despite him still playing on the Pro Tour.
Peter Manley, than the number 3, never recovered from his heartdisease and only sporadically can be seen around. Roland Scholten than was
the number 4 of the world - where is he now-a-days? Ronnie Baxter was the number five in 2005, but he's sliding down the rankings now as
is John Part than number 7. Part recently won the first event of the new American CDC tour but it's a long time he was a winner in the PDC.
Wayne Mardle had to take a break because of parotitis and now is one of the sky commentators. Dennis Ovens had to withdraw due a job
related injury and Dennis Priestley is retired.
The only ones still around and still among the top 16 are Phil Taylor and Terry Jenkins.
Taylor to be sure this year again is one of the favourites to win the tournament - as he was in 2005. But then he lost to John Part who in
the end met in the famous final Colin Lloyd (whose quarterfinal opponent by the way was Adrian Lewis - in that year one of the qualifiers)
The final was dominated by Lloyd who threw 15 180s and ended the match with a 170 finish. The World Matchplay 2005 and the World Grand
Prix 2004 were the only two Majors Lloyd could win. Today he sits on rank 55 of the PDC Order of Merit only one place in front of Mark
Dudbrige and two in front of Mark Walsh who both in 2005 were among the Top 16 of the World as well.
Beside Taylor of course the at the momentshowing signs of weakness Michael van Gerwen is one of the favourites. Gary Anderson had to
withdraw to illness from the European Darts Open - should he recover in time he's one of the favourites too. Difficult to predict who
might be able to win the tournament beside those three. All other top 16 players seem to be too inconsistent - you never know in which
form they'll show up and for how many matches they will be able to stay in form. James Wade is the only one among them who already won
in Blackpool - might be that is an advantage. I almost can't imagine one of the Pro Tour Order of Merit qualifiers will be able to win
the tournament. None looks like a high-flyer to me, none like a player who will be able to survive at the moment five matches against
the top 16 players. For most of them I would say the World Matchplay will be over after the first round.
But who knows which surprises the tournament has in petto for us this year...