World Matchplay 2023

Thirty Years World Matchplay - Part 1
Beside the PDC World Championship the PDC World Matchplay is the PDC tournament with the longest history. This year it will take place for the thirtietht time. But the World Matchplay differs from other PDC events not only because it runs for such a long time - in contrast to all other tournaments neither the venue nor the date nor the format nor the number of participants changed a lot over the years. There is one exception - during the Corona years the tournamt was played twice behind closed doors in the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
The format was modified a little bit - while before 2013 the winners in all rounds had to win with two legs clear and some of the matches so reached an epic length now after the "normal" number of legs the players have only up to five legs overtime for the players to get those two legs. Should it not happen all is decided in a sudden death leg.

In 2022 a Women's World Matchplay was added - in which eight women who qualified by the women's series order of merit take part.

And so since 1994 the darts world looks in July at Blackpool were in the Empress Ballroom of the Winter Gardens 32 players - often sweating - stand on the stage as in the historic building no air conditioning system exists and no air conditioning system ever will be allowed to be build in... Nevertheless many players look in this event more relaxed and almost in holiday mood. It shows that Blackpool for many years was one of the most popular seaside resorts in England. Those times are over for some years already and today Blackpool is one of the poorest towns in England and in some years it's even not advisable to plunge into the sea due to pollution but Blackpool still is a very British sea side resort with pier (or better three piers), a lot of mostly harmless amusement arcades, some touristic highlights and a lot of entertainment facilities of which the World Matchplay is an important part.

When you look a the list of participantsin this firs year 1994 it stands out that - as in the following years - an unusual big number of players from North America can be found. They had been invited by the PDC. At this time there were not too many strong European players around as the sport of darts neither was a far spread nor as popular as it is today. But in North America just a boom of the sport ended and one knew the Americans from international and England - America competitions. And so in 1994 ten Americans, two Scotsman, one player from Singapore, one Irishman and eighteen Englishman stood at the oche of the World Matchplay. To be sure the English players were the favourites to win this first event as everyone of distinction turned up - among them Dennis Priestley, Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Bob Anderson, Keith Deller, Jocky Wilson and Phil Taylor to only name the best known. But it was not one of those Englishman who won the event but American Larry Butler who prevailed in the final 16:12 over Dennis Priestley. 1994 there existed a match for the third place as well which was won by Rod Harrintgon who later went on to win the tournament twice.

While Priestley a few years ago due to cancer and his age withdrew from the sport Larry Butler still plays in tournaments. Only two other participants from this first event are still active as well - Paul Lim and Jim Widmayer.

Already in the following year the number of North American participants in the event started to shrink. Butler was one of those who returned as did Steve Brown (the American), Gerald Verrier and Dave Kelly. Beside Canadian Gary Mawson made his debut. This time Priestley and Butler already met in the quarterfinals and Priestley won. Priestley once again reached the final and this time lost to Phil Taylor.Again among the participants was Paul Lim who this time not played for Singapore but for America.

Priestley reached the final once again in 1996 - and lost for the third time. This time he was defeated 14:16 by Peter Evison.
Till 2010 Priestley qualified every year for the World Matchplay but never again reached the final. 2010 he lost first round to Vincent van der Voort.

1997 again many North Americans were among the participants - beside Steve Brown, Sean Downs, Gerrald Verrier, Paul Lim and Gary Mawson it was Gerome Verdano who gave his debut. Beside for the first time John Part qualified but he lost in the in this year played preliminary round against Scotsman Drew O'Neill. Larry Butler had qualified but didn't bother to turn up as did a certain Raymond van Barneveld who at this time still was a BDO player.

1998 Steve Brown and John Part entered the tournament as seeds. Brown lost second round to Bob Anderson. Part lost already first round against Chris Mason who eliminated Gerakd Verrier in the second round. As well in Blackpool were again Gary Mawson and Paul Lim - this time again for Singapore.

1999 North America was represented by Part, Mawson, Brown, Verrier, Canadian Scott Cummings and Dan Lauby Senior. Part again was seeded and again lost first round to Chris Mason who this time eliminated Steve Brown second round. Mawon reached the second round as well but there lost to Dennis Priestley.

That was the last year in which the North Americans were the second biggest group of participants in the tournament. In 2000 only Mawson and Part qualified. In 2001 Part was the only North American representative. 2002 and 2003 Steve Brown joined Part fort he last time. Part himself qualified till 2009 for every World Matchplay and returned 2011 and 2013. 2002 and 2005 he reached the final and in 2004 the semifinals. In 2022 he threw one of the not too many World Matchplay nine-darters. Part was beside Butler the most succesful North American participant in the tournament.

So far no other North American player managed to qualify for the event.

Contact © Global Darts. All Rights Reserved. Impressum