All four previous champions in the field come in the top half the draw, nine days of live coverage from Milton Keynes get underway on Sky Sports on Saturday, July 18
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 12/07/20 8:41pm
Rob Cross begins the defence of his World Matchplay title against Germany’s Gabriel Clemens while world champion Peter Wright starts his bid for the Phil Taylor Trophy against Jose De Sousa.
Voltage beat Michael Smith in Blackpool a year ago, and for the first time in its history the Matchplay will not be at the iconic Winter Gardens.
The coronavirus pandemic means the event will undoubtedly be held in today’s world at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, where Cross will hope to become only the fourth man to wthhold the title.
Rod Harrington, Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen are the only men to possess claimed the prestigious title in consecutive years, The Power memorably winning seven in a task.
Cross may face a repeat of his final with Smith this season, but in the past eight, following the pair were drawn in the most notable half along with world No 1 Van Gerwen.
MVG reached three consecutive finals between 2014 and 2016 but has crashed out in the very first and 2nd round in each of the last two years.
The Dutchman has been handed a favourable draw with Brendan Dolan his first-round opponent before a second-round match against either Simon Whitlock or Justin Pipe.
Former champions Gary Anderson and James Wade may also be in a stacked top half of the draw and might meet in the second round if they over come Justin Pipe and Keegan Brown respectively.
Snakebite memorably claimed his first world title at Alexandra Palace on New Year’s Day and he’s in an open looking bottom half.
De Sousa is really a dangerous first-round opponent, while three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant lurks in the second round if he is able to come through against 2018 semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price may also be in underneath half of the draw, while world no 6 and Home Tour champion Nathan Aspinall faces debutant Dimitri Van den Bergh in the first round.
2020 World Matchplay Draw – First Round
(1) Michael van Gerwen versus Brendan Dolan
(16) Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce
(8) Gary Anderson v Justin Pipe
(9) James Wade v Keegan Brown
(4) Rob Cross v Gabriel Clemens
(13) Krzysztof Ratajski v Jermaine Wattimena
(5) Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton
(12) Mensur Suljovic v Jamie Hughes
(2) Peter Wright v Jose De Sousa
(15) Glen Durrant v Jeffrey sobre Zwaan
(7) Daryl Gurney versus Ricky Evans
(10) Dave Chisnall v Vincent van jeder Voort
(3) Gerwyn Price versus Danny Noppert
(14) Adrian Lewis versus Steve Beaton
(6) Nathan Aspinall v Dimitri Van den Bergh
(11) Ian White v Joe Cullen
Darts has returned on Sky Sports in July, together with nine times of coverage through the World Matchplay getting ongoing on Saturday, July 18, and every day time until the ultimate on Sunday, July 26.