Darts Returns To TV As 2020 World Matchplay Goes Ahead As Planned
The sporting world is slowly returning to some normality. Following several months of postponed, cancelled or remote events, darts is on the way back to our TV screens this summer.
The PDC have confirmed that they're continuing preparations as planned for the original dates of the 2020 World Matchplay. Thirty-two players are set to take to the stage, competing for the Phil Taylor Trophy from July 18 - 26th.
A Return to TV After Several Remote Events
The World Matchplay promises plenty of TV viewers. It will be the first PDC event presented live on Sky Sports in several months and will be shown by the organisation's broadcast partners. That will be a big step forward for many after a schedule of remote matches and tournaments, some of which have been available to stream live or watch via online bookmakers, allowing fans to stay up to date.
Phil Taylor and Fallon Sherrock faced off from their living rooms. It was a thrilling match with 1/4 favourite Taylor coming out on top 7-6 over Sherrock who began the match as 11/4 underdog. Meanwhile, the PDC Home Tour saw familiar faces return to our screens. bet365 have been one of many bookies providing real-time pictures of these matches. And there were often in-play odds to accompany the streams too.
What's more, a funded or active account was all you need to tune in, and you didn't have to bet on the match you wanted to watch. Additionally, things like the popular bet365 welcome bonus have given darts fans an edge and have allowed them to place pre-match along with live bets on a host of remote matches and should continue to be popular as the televised action returns.
Big Names Set to Assemble for Matchplay Event
With prize money of £700,000 on the line, a stellar cast list including Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright and defending champion Rob Cross will mean the competition is an ultra-competitive one. Unsurprisingly, MVG is the betting favourite with those bookies who have already priced up the event including Paddy Power and Betfred, who are the headline sponsor for the second year in a row. It might be challenging to discern the form of course, without the regular events to use as a guide.
Gerwyn Price is seen as the nearest challenger to Mighty Mike by the odds compilers, although his record at the World Matchplay isn't a good one. The 35-year-old Welshman has never made it further than the quarter-finals and his last three appearances in this competition have ended in first-round defeats. The previous edition saw Price knocked out by Stephen Bunting. Other contenders include Nathan Aspinall, 2019 runner-up Michael Smith and two-time PDC World Championship winner Gary Anderson. It's a line-up fitting of any darting stage on the planet.
Matchplay Venue and Crowd Still Up for Debate
While the dates for the World Matchplay remain unchanged, there are still plenty of factors to be decided by the PDC and UK Government over the coming weeks. First, of course, is the question will be whether the competition will be held at Winter Gardens, Blackpool. The famous venue has hosted the tournament every year since the first edition in 1994. And understandably, the first option is for it to be held there again.
If Blackpool does get the go-ahead, then the option of a crowd could be possible, depending on the latest regulations from the authorities. PDC Chief Executive Matt Porter said it's still the organisation's "intention" to have fans in attendance for the event, but talks remain ongoing. Should Winter Gardens not be a viable option, it will be played behind closed doors. A decision on that is expected on July 4th giving the organisers enough time to pivot to their Plan B if it's not possible to host the tournament in the seaside town.