World Matchplay 2022 - The Favourites

Well it's summer isn't it? Summer means high temperatures, sunshine, beach, the sea, seagulls, fish and chips, the Blackpool Tower and - at least for some people - THE WORLD MATCHPLAY.

I started with the easier part of a tournament preview - the debutants - and now try my best at the more difficult part - the favourites.

To be sure it is a very difficult part as the only thing I feel safe to predict is that none of the four debutants is among the favourites to win the event. The favourites as usually can be found among the seeded players, the top 16 of the world. And as usually that means those favourites are Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price. There are a few might be's in the mix as well like Michael Smith, Danny Noppert, Luke Humphries or James Wade while the rest of the seeds looks more unlikely but certainly has an outside chance - one should never write off Gary Anderson for example even though on his by now rare appearances this year he was rather disappointing. But might be he thinks the World Matchplay is a tournament worth his best effort. Dimitri van den Bergh and Rob Cross are former winners what of course could help their campaign.

For me it looks like a very open tournament - those mentioned top favourites all were far from convincing recently - in fact most of the seeded players only showed glimpses of their best form over the last months. Each time when I thought "well, now he's finally back" another disappointing performance followed.

Perhaps this year will be the year a none-seeded player will be the winner as some of them really managed to impress - Andrew Gilding for example who showed some stunning performances on the Pro Tour or even (here I contradict myself.) Rowby-John Rodriguez who sometimes looked unstoppable and seems to have nerves of steel. Not to forget Adrian Lewis who out of no-where won a Players Championship last weekend and already told everybody there is no reason why he should not win some more major tournaments.

Perhaps a look on the tournament bracket to see how the tournament will pan out can help.
Should Michael van Gerwen win his first round match against Adrian Lewis - which is likely but will not be easy - his next opponent would be either Joe Cullen or Damon Heta - which will not be easy either. Next round waiting for him would be probably James Wade or the winner of Humphries v Aspinall - one pitfall chases the next.. The possible semi-final opponents could be Wright or Clayton or van den Bergh before in the final Price/Smith/Anderson or Noppert and van Duijvenbode could turn out a hurdle too high to leap over.

The route for Price into the semis could be a little bit easier with German Martin Schindler as a first round opponent, after that the winner of Chisnall/Huybrechts and in the quarterfinals de Sousa/Clemens/Cross/Dobey.

Peter Wright - the defending champion - has first to defeat Madars Razma and then the winner of Ratajski/Bunting. Should he be back in form he should be really up to this. The next step could turn out to be more difficult as Jonny Clayton or Dimitri van den Bergh could wait for him before in the semi-finals he could run into van Gerwen .

Thinking about this I can only emphasize the near platitude "there are no easy matches". For us fans the tournaments are a treat when so many players on a similar level are involved and - using another near platitude - "each one can beat everybody else on his day". I can imagine the players involved would sometimes prefer the one or other easy match .. At least in the first round to be able to settle in the tournament.

Looking again in on the bracket I feel that the players in the lower half of the draw - like Michael Smith or Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price - might have the easier route at least to the semi-finals, that their hurdles might be a little bit lower then in the upper half but the outcome of the matches is written in the stars nevertheless. Will Chisnall win against Huybrechts? Will Noppert beat Dolan? Will de Sousa progress or Clemens? I certainly have no clue. Those were good times for the pundits when Phil Taylor was still around.

So I only recommend the fans to follow the action and to see for themselves. Might be a favourite will emerge in the course of the tournament, might be it will stay open till the end. I am sure it will be good entertainment for hot summer nights. And - at least I feel safe to predict this - no one will play with more colourful hair then Peter "Snakebite" Wright.

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