Darts fans flock to Winter Gardens as the ‘Power’ has one more throw at glory

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World matchplay, Blackpool Winter Gardens, July 22-30

Darts fans will be flocking to this year’s World Matchplay at the weekend.

The tournament runs from July 22-30 as 32 players compete across nine days live on Sky Sports in the prestigious championship.

The world’s top 16 players – headed by reigning champion Michael van Gerwen, 15-time World Matchplay champion Phil Taylor and 2007 winner James Wade – qualify by right alongside 16 qualifiers from the one-year ProTour Order of Merit.

The first round will take place across four sessions from July 22-24, with Saturday’s opening session followed by a double session on the Sunday and the final four games on Monday evening.

The second round is played across Tuesday and Wednesday, with the quarter-finals on Thursday and Friday before the weekend sees Saturday’s semi-finals followed by Sunday’s final.

Michael van Gerwen is the defending two-time champion after lifting the trophy for a second successive year when defeating the great Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor 18-10 in the 2016 final.

The Power will be competing in his final World Matchplay as his planned retirement at the end of the season draws closer but he’ll be desperate to win this prestigious event for the 16th time of his legendary career.

Van Gerwen’s main rivals for the title are expected to be Peter Wright, who has been in great form this year and so nearly beat the Dutchman in the Premier League Darts final, and second seed Gary Anderson.

Last year’s event drew record crowds at the event and huge viewing figures for the televised games.