World Matchplay Darts and Prestige at the Winter Gardens
The World Matchplay darts kicks off from the Winter Gardens in Blackpool tomorrow. It is the most hallowed arena in darts today. Arguments can be made for the Lakeside country club, but when the best of the best no longer ply their trade at Bob Potter’s pleasure grounds it is hard to retain its previous status.
The Ally Pally is the Headquarters of modern darts fandom. The site that has hosted the PDC World Championship since 2008 has entered the culture as the place to spend your Christmas holidays.
But nothing beats the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens. It brings a touch of class to what is still, at its core, a gleefully grubby sport.
Way back through the wastelands of recorded time, back to a long forgotten era, 1994, the first World Matchplay tournament took place. One of the new tournaments in the newly birthed PDC. It has grown in prestige steadily ever since. Thanks in no small measure to the increased money on offer to pros.
In the first edition of the tournament the prize pot was £42,800, the winner Larry Butler, an American, took home 10K. Last year £400,000 was divvied up between the players. As Champion Phil Taylor took home 100 grand.
Speaking of Taylor. He’s on for his 13th title in Blackpool this year. And five in a row. A feat he already achieved between 2000 and 2004. He has a stranglehold on the tournament.
Indeed only Taylor, James Wade and Colin Lloyd among this year’s participants have lifted the trophy before.
But as Robert Thornton proved only last month at the UK open; Phil Taylor can be beaten. And handily. The diminutive Scot handed a beating of biblical proportions to Taylor in that final. The Power was all smooth words and compliments at its conclusion. But you only had to look in his eyes to see the great competitor was pissed off.
Taylor has made it his life’s work using such emotions to ramp up motivation into the stratosphere.
Gary Anderson comes into the tournament after a serious eye complaint. He had to pull out of an event in Germany and has barely played for a month. How he will play is a mystery.
It’s the second biggest darts tournament of the year. And if you like that sort of thing (who in their right mind wouldn’t) you are in for a treat of tungsten.
Remember you can watch this event live on your computer or mobile with Sky Sports Streaming on Sky Go. Need a UK IP address? Click Here
blog comments powered by