Star-studded schedule for World Matchplay darts in Blackpool

Defending champion Van Gerwen
Defending champion Van Gerwen
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Former champion James Wade will join top stars Gary Anderson and Peter Wright on the Winter Gardens oche on the opening night of the 2017 BetVictor World Matchplay in Blackpool a week on Saturday

The schedule of play has been confirmed for the ever-popular nine-day tournament running from July 22-30, with the world’s top 16 in the PDC rankings and 16 qualifiers competing in the Sky-televised event.

The first round is split across three days, including a double session on the Sunday.

Former World Youth champion Michael Smith will face Blackpool debutant Steve West in the opening fixture, before 2007 winner and six-time finalist Wade takes on Darren Webster.

Sunday’s afternoon session begins with Premier League ace Jelle Klaasen facing Justin Pipe, who snatched the final qualification spot.

Legendary 15-time World Matchplay champion Phil Taylor begins his final challenge in Blackpool before retirement in Sunday’s evening session, when he takes on UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price.

Sunday night also sees Premier League stars Dave Chisnall, Raymond van Barneveld and Kim Huybrechts in action

Reigning World Matchplay champion Michael van Gerwen – the 4/5 pre-tournament favourite with sponsors BetVictor – begins his bid to win a third successive Blackpool title on Monday night against Stephen Bunting.

The second round and quarter-finals are both split over two nights before the Saturday semis and Sunday final.

The record £500,000 prize money includes £115,000 for the winner, with a £10,000 bonus on offer for a nine-dart finish.

Tickets are still available from the Winter Gardens box-office via 0844 8561111 or www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk and www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

BetVictor World Matchplay

Saturday July 22 (7pm)

First Round: Michael Smith v Steve West, James Wade v Darren Webster, Gary Anderson v Christian Kist, Peter Wright v James Wilson

Sunday July 23 (1pm)

First Round : Jelle Klaasen v Justin Pipe, Robert Thornton v Cristo Reyes, Benito van de Pas v Daryl Gurney, Mensur Suljovic v John Henderson

7.30pm: First round: Dave Chisnall v Mervyn King, Phil Taylor v Gerwyn Price, Raymond van Barneveld v Joe Cullen, Kim Huybrechts v Alan Norris

Monday July 24 (7pm)

First round: Simon Whitlock v Kyle Anderson, Adrian Lewis v Steve Beaton, Michael van Gerwen v Stephen Bunting, Ian White v Rob Cross

Tuesday July 25 (7pm)

Second Round: Suljovic/Henderson v Klaasen/Pipe, Wade/Webster v Smith/West, Anderson/Kist v Van de Pas/Gurney, Wright/Wilson v Thornton/Reyes

Wednesday July 26 (7pm)

Second Round: Chisnall/King v Huybrechts/Norris, Lewis/Beaton v White/Cross, Taylor/Price v Van Barneveld/Cullen, Van Gerwen/Bunting v Whitlock/Anderson

Thursday July 27 (7pm)

First and second quarter-finals

Friday July 28 (7pm):

Third and fourth quarter-finals

Saturday July 29 (7pm): semi-finals

Sunday July 30 (7pm): final