The World Matchplay returns to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool this year and it once again looks set to be a cracker.

Last year history was made when Dimitri Van den Bergh won his maiden major PDC title when beating Gary Anderson in impressive fashion. The Belgian is among the frontrunners for this year’s tournament, but can he produce the same heroics?

We take a look at the tournament favourites for this year’s renewal at the Winter Gardens ahead of its start on Saturday.

Mighty Mike leads the market

It’s a sight that we’re used to seeing now regardless of his form. Michael van Gerwen is the current market favourite to lift his third World Matchplay title. The Dutchman won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016 but has yet to even make the final since.

He hasn’t been raking in the trophies like old times, with his last tournament success coming in 2020. Having yet to win a title this year, MVG will be hungry for more. Earlier in the campaign, his game improved drastically but it appears there is still a piece of the puzzle missing. He was close last week when he reached the final of Players Championship 20 but was ultimately denied by rival Peter Wright.

Van Gerwen is 9/2 to win the title and he faces Damon Heta in his first-round clash.

World champion aiming to get back on track

When Gerwyn Price won the most coveted prize in the darting world, the World Darts Championship, it seemed as if nothing was out of reach for the Welshman. Many were preparing themselves for the Iceman to wreak havoc throughout the season and add to his trophy haul, but it hasn’t happened.

Having to miss this year’s Premier League and spending over 80 days away from the dartboard in the early stages of the year, Price is still trying to get into the swing of things. Getting to the semi-finals of the UK Open and the Masters earlier in the year were strong performances and he’ll be looking to build upon those.

Price has acknowledged that he has played a limited amount of competitive darts recently but has stated his desire to come back stronger while also improving his poor World Matchplay record. His best result in the tournament is the quarter-finals way back in 2015.

He’s 5/1 to rocket back into form and lift his maiden Matchplay title.

De Sousa to build on impressive year

Along with Jonny Clayton and Joe Cullen, Jose De Sousa has been enjoying an incredible few years of darts. Since winning the Grand Slam of Darts last year his career has skyrocketed and as well as being the Premier League runner-up, he’s added three Pro Tour victories to his collection.

A firm fan favourite, De Sousa’s darting ability has grown spectacularly to put him firmly in contention this year. He’s got a tough draw though, facing Gabriel Clemens in his opening game and also being in the bottom half of the draw. This means that he could face the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson and Nathan Aspinall further down the line.

Despite this, De Sousa is third-favourite at 7/1.

Snakebite oozing confidence

Peter Wright has already stated that he will “win the Matchplay and the Worlds” which shows he isn’t short of confidence. Darting fans won’t be shocked to hear that Wright has changed his darts and is apparently “loving” them. To back this claim, he shrugged off MVG in the final of Players Championship 20. In doing so, Snakebite won his 20th Players Championship but is yet to fill his trophy cabinet with a Matchplay.

He is 8/1 to win the title for the first time and the world number two will face Danny Noppert in his opening fixture.

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