This year seven debutants will stand for the first time at the World Matchplay oche, even one more than last year. One could rate it as another sign of the changing of the guard though two of the debutants are already older than forty - Glen Durrant and Krzysztof Ratajski - and the others are already quite successful for several years with Nathan Aspinall leading the way. He has already won two TV tournaments.
Nickname: The Asp
Best TV run: 2019 UK Open winner, 2019 US Darts Masters winner
Betfred tournament odds: 25/1
First round opponent: Mervyn King
Nathan Aspinall started his PDC career on the PDC Development and PDC Challenge Tour which he played since 2010. His start was not really a success. 2013 he reached his first Development Tour semi-final and lost to Max Hopp. He tried to win a Tour Card 2013 but failed. Aspinall moved for a short time to the BDO. 2015 he for a second time took part in Qualifying School and this time got the Tour Card. It followed a first UK Open appearance which ended in the fourth round of the event where he lost to James Wade. He qualified for a first European tour event and reached the third round. He gets a win on the Development Tour and ends in the not high-class final of the PDC World Youth Championship where he again loses to Max Hopp. 2016 and 2017 not much happens in Aspinall's darting live. He doesn't survive the group phase of the Grand Slam 2016. Then Aspinall's career explodes. 2018 he wins a Players Championship and qualifies for the PDC World Championship 2019 - his first World Championship. Aspinall plays himself sensational in the semi-finals where he is defeated by Michael Smith. Aspinall is rewarded by a place as Contender in the Premier League after Gary Anderson had to withdraw due to his back problems. Aspinall once again is qualified for the UK Open and in another sensation wins the event - wins it with a 170 finish. He is nominated for the World Series event in Las Vegas and he celebrates another win.
Aspinall by now is sponsored by Target and his first Target darts - the Nathan Aspinall GEN 1 - are by now on the market. His job as account Aspinall was able to chuck. He feels by his job he learned to focus and to give in when under pressure. Today darts is his job which means for him he didn't hang up a dartboard at home but goes to practice at his manager. His home means family and there work has no place. Though it first was a risk to chuck his job by now his manager and his sponsors - and of course his achievements - financially covered his back and he is able to concentrate on his darts. Since the UK Open everybody knows his granddad and the story that some years ago he visited together with Nathan the UK Open. They had the worst places possible and Nathan told his granddad that one day he would lift this trophy.
To be sure a debut always is something special and the World Matchplay is a very special tournament as well. But by know we know Aspinall better and to be sure he has the chance to progress far in the tournament.
Nickname: Polish Eagle
Best TV run: 2018 & 2019 UK Open last 16, 2018 Grand Slam of Darts last 16, 2018 Players Championship Finals last 16, 2013 & 2019 World Cup of Darts last 16
Betfred tournament odds: 66/1
First round opponent: Darren Webster
Krzysztof Ratajski years ago was with the nickname "Polish Champion" a successful soft-dart player. 2008 he won with the Denmark Open his first steeldart event. After this win he more concentrated on steeldarts and 2009 for the first time qualifies for the BDO World Championship. In the same year he is the crowned Polish Nation Champion and wins the Czech Open. 2010 he is for the first time invited for the PDC World Cup, to which he returns 2011. Since 2015 he plays on the PDC European Tour and besides still in BDO/WDF tournaments. Ratajski reached the last 16 of the Winmau world Masters 2015. 2017 The PDC introduces the Eastern Europe Qualifiers for the European Tour and Ratajski qualifies for eleven of twelve Tour events. He takes part again in the Winmau World Masters 2017 and wins the tournament as unseeded player. He qualified for the PDC World Championship 2018 and the European Championship 2017 and finally joins the PDC. Astonishingly he is not able to get a Tour Card in Qualifying School 2018. As Associate member he qualifies for the UK Open and reaches the last 16. He wins a Challenge Tour event (and threw a nine-darter) and a Players Championship. Ratajski again qualified for the PDC World Championship 2019, but is defeated first round. In 2019 he gets his Tour Card, again stands under the last 16 of the UK Open and wins another Players Championship.
Ratajski started to play darts when he was twenty. He is a strong player and an awkward opponent; one hears he plays not always really fair. Ratajski is not married but darts player Karolina Podgorska is his partner.
As Darren Webster this year doesn't play his best Ratajski has a good chance to survive the first round of the World Matchplay. Whether he'll be able to progress further depends on the performance of his next opponent Rob Cross or Chris Dobey.
Best TV run: 2018 European Championship last 16, 2018 Players Championship Finals last 16
Betfred tournament odds: 150/1
First round opponent: Daryl Gurney
Ricky Evens played from 2007 to 2012 without success on the BDO Circuit. 2013 he took part in Qualifying School and got a Tour Card. In the same year he reached a Players Championship Final and the final of the PDC World Youth Championship and lost both times. By this he is qualified for the Grand Slam and the PDC World Championship 2014. 2014 was not as good for Evans. 2015 he manages at least to qualify for the PDC World Championship 2016 where he defeats in the first round Simon Whitlock with an unbelievable comeback. 2017 he is back in the Alexandra Palace but lost his first round match. Another unremarkable year follows. 2018 progress shows - Evans reaches a European Tour final and qualifies for the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship Finals and the PDC World Championship 2019. This year he already reached a Players Championship final and an European Tour final.
Evans worked at a gas station but now is a full time pro and completely concentrates on darts. As one knows he celebrates wins with a cheeseburger and a slot of Vodka. Last year to the delight of the crowd he walked-on to "Baby Shark which was the result of a bet. Evans has got his nickname "Rapid" with good reason; he is a very fast thrower and throws his three darts in three to five seconds. In this way he scored the till now probably fastest 180 at the start of a match. Evans tells Rob Cross is his inspiration.
His chances on a first round win depend on Daryl Gurneys performance. Consistency doesn't seem to be one of Gurney's strengths yet so it is difficult to foresee what will happen. The second round opponent would be either Jonny Clayton or Keegan Brown. Brown played well recently - it could get rather difficult for Evans.