World Matchplay Darts 2023 Reviews: Schedule, Draw and Results


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Brendan Dolan caused one of the biggest upsets in Betfred World Matchplay history with a sensational victory over reigning champion Michael van Gerwen on Day Two in Blackpool.

Brackets, draw and results from world match play darts

Dolan – who made his name with his nine-dart heroics at the World Grand Prix back in 2011 – created another slice of big stage history to stun the all-conquering Dutchman at the Winter Gardens.

Sunday’s bumper double-session saw eight first round ties take place at the Empress Ballroom, as World Champion Michael Smith kicked off his title tilt with a comfortable win over Steve Beaton.

However, it was Dolan who stole the headlines with a shock 10-7 success over Van Gerwen, who becomes only the third defending champion in the 30-year history of the World Matchplay to lose in the opening round.

The Dutchman paid the price for a sluggish start as Dolan opened up a 4-1 cushion, but spectacular 132 and 137 finishes from Van Gerwen in the second session saw him level at five apiece.

Dolan was undeterred however, converting 75, 76 and a brace of 62 combination finishes in the latter stages, before punishing two missed darts at double from Van Gerwen for 8-9 to triumph on double three.

“To beat Michael van Gerwen on a big stage, I’m over the moon,” said the Northern Irishman, celebrating his first win at the World Matchplay since 2016.

“Michael was unbelievable in Poland last weekend. I know he’s suffering after his operation and he’s trying to recover, and it wasn’t the Michael we have come to expect tonight.

“Obviously the highlight of my career was the nine-darter and beating James Wade in the World Grand Prix semi-finals, but this win is definitely right up there.”

World number one Smith avoided the same fate as Van Gerwen, defying a below-par performance to defeat the evergreen Beaton, who was making his 22nd World Matchplay appearance at the age of 59.

The opening exchanges were dominated by missed doubles, but a majestic 161 finish from Smith in leg five catapulted him into a 4-1 lead, and the St Helens star converted a further two ton-plus finishes to wrap up a comprehensive 10-2 win.

“I didn’t miss a thing in practice, but I came up here and I didn’t produce,” conceded Smith, who was left frustrated by his performance, despite the result.

“I think I tried too hard tonight instead of relaxing. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but I’m still in the tournament and I’ll take the win.

“I won ugly, and that’s something I wasn’t able to do a couple of years ago. I know the game is there, and hopefully I can produce it on Tuesday night.”

Smith’s reward is a showdown against Chris Dobey, who ended his winless run at the Winter Gardens with a 10-8 victory over 2007 winner James Wade, firing in eight 180s to fend off a tenacious Wade, who trailed 6-1 at one stage.

Dobey surrendered an 8-2 lead against Rob Cross at this event 12 months ago, and despite another dream start, he saw his lead evaporate as Wade won four of the next five legs in 14, 11, 13 and 12 darts.

Nevertheless, the Bedlington star regained his poise to move 9-6 ahead with a sublime 141 checkout, before overcoming three missed match darts across two legs to triumph with a two-dart 80 kill.

“I’m relieved. There were so many thoughts going through my head when I missed those match darts,” admitted Dobey, who had lost his previous three matches at the World Matchplay.

“You cannot afford to give James Wade chances like that. He always punishes you, but I managed to keep my nerve at the end, so I’m delighted with that.”

Elsewhere, Luke Humphries produced the performance of the tournament so far in his 10-2 demolition of Jose de Sousa, averaging almost 102 to see off the former Grand Slam champion.

Humphries recorded just four treble-less visits in the entire contest, landing six 180s and converting 42% of his attempts at double to set up a mouth-watering last 16 tie against Dirk van Duijvenbode.

“I felt really good up there,” said Humphries, who has scooped a fifth European Tour title and a second Players Championship crown over the last fortnight.

“I came here last year and I didn’t perform, so I wanted to prove a point tonight. I wanted to show I can do it on the big TV stage, not just the European Tour.

“I’ve been playing great darts for the last two or three years, and I think all my career needs now is a major title. What better place to do it than here? It would be an amazing feeling.”

Van Duijvenbode, meanwhile, won through a thrilling tie-break against Kim Huybrechts to condemn the Belgian to his eighth first round exit in nine World Matchplay appearances.

Huybrechts sent the contest into overtime after Van Duijvenbode missed double 14 for a 142 clincher, and the former World Cup runner-up soon seized the initiative with a 108 checkout in leg 19.

However, Huybrechts then spurned two darts at double 16 for an 11-9 success, and after pinning tops to stay alive, Van Duijvenbode conjured up legs of 11 and 13 darts to complete the turnaround.

Nathan Aspinall will renew his rivalry with Danny Noppert in the last 16 on Tuesday, after the pair came through bruising encounters against Krzysztof Ratajski and Martin Schindler respectively.

Aspinall fired in eight 180s in his 10-7 win over 2021 semi-finalist Ratajski, producing a monstrous 151 checkout to move 7-4 ahead, before sealing his progress with a superb 12-dart leg.

“I know what Krzysztof can do. We always have fantastic games,” reflected Aspinall, a back-to-back quarter-finalist at the World Matchplay.

“The crowd were amazing. Every time I come to Blackpool I get so much support. I absolutely love playing here, and I’m so happy I won for them.

“I’m really happy with my game. I feel like I’m on cloud nine, and when Nathan is happy, he’s pretty good at this game!”

Meanwhile, Noppert – a semi-finalist last year – survived a late scare to see off Martin Schindler, who fought back from 8-4 down to reduce the arrears to 9-8.

Noppert – aided by 115, 76, 82 and 81 finishes – raced into a four-leg lead before Schindler rallied, although a nerveless 112 finish on tops from the Dutchman in leg 16 halted Schindler’s charge.

Earlier in the day, Damon Heta celebrated his maiden win on the famous Winter Gardens stage; dumping out highly-fancied debutant Josh Rock in his opener.

Australian number one Heta sported a baggy green cap and his cricket bat for his Ashes-inspired walk-on, and it was Rock who was bowled over by an impressive display from the former World Cup winner.

Heta stormed into an 8-3 lead with a run of five consecutive legs, and he defied skin-saving 125 and 112 combinations from World Youth Champion Rock to seal his progress.

The first round action at the Betfred World Matchplay draws to a close on Monday evening, as former champions Peter Wright and Dimitri Van den Bergh enter the fray against Andrew Gilding and Ross Smith respectively.

Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld will make his World Matchplay return against 15th seed Ryan Searle, before Wales’ World Cup winner Jonny Clayton plays Germany’s number one Gabriel Clemens.

Click here for match stats & results

2023 Betfred World Matchplay
Sunday July 16
Afternoon Session
4x First Round
Danny Noppert 10-8 Martin Schindler
Dirk van Duijvenbode 12-10 Kim Huybrechts
Damon Heta 10-5 Josh Rock
Chris Dobey 10-8 James Wade

Evening Session
4x First Round
Nathan Aspinall 10-7 Krzysztof Ratajski
Luke Humphries 10-2 Jose de Sousa
Brendan Dolan 10-7 Michael van Gerwen
Michael Smith 10-2 Steve Beaton

Monday July 17 (1900 BST)
4x First Round
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Ross Smith
Ryan Searle v Raymond van Barneveld
Peter Wright v Andrew Gilding
Jonny Clayton v Gabriel Clemens

LiveScores Now Available at IrishScores.com





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