First of the World Matchplay darts quarter-finals matches tonight, with Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright in action
The Winter Gardens host the World Matchplay darts quarter-finals tonight, and there are plenty of surprise packages on show alongside established darting greats. Are there more shocks in store?
After the high-profile eliminations of Raymond van Barneveld, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson, nobody is safe, but there are still plenty of big-names to entertain.
Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
Snakebite is now within touching distance of his third televised final in as many of his last tournaments, having come agonisingly but sensationally close to lifting titles in the World Cup of Darts and Japan Masters. Now looks like the showman’s time to shine.
Wright, the last Scot left on the oche after Anderson’s shock exit, is the heavy favourite for this fixture having hammered both his previous opponents, though plucky Price should not be overlooked after surprisingly dispatching big-gun Lewis.
In deadly form of late, ambitious Snakebite should still have too much for former professional rugby player The Iceman, however, and won the only previous tussle between the two 3-0 in the 2014 PDC World Championship.
PREDICTION: Wright 16-8 Price @ 12/1 with Bet365
Michael van Gerwen v Ian White
Dutch darting superstar Van Gerwen (a tempting 20/1 for a second career World Matchplay nine-dart finish with Sky Bet), a runner-up in Blackpool in 2014, will be determined to go one step further and land this major tournament, which has so far amazingly eluded him.
World number one and 2015 UK Open winner Mighty Mike has an excellent record against White, who has never reached a World Matchplay semi-final before. Powerful thrower Van Gerwen has also defeated The Diamond seven times to two, with his last victory against the Englishman coming in this competition.
In 2014, the dynamic Dutchman romped to emphatic 13-4 victory over White in the last 16, showing he fares better against his opponent in matches with more legs. Mighty Mike is also clearly in the mood for brilliance in Blackpool after already trouncing Jamie Lewis by a formidable 13-2 scoreline in the second round.
The Diamond has done well to reach this stage, having overcome both Stephen Bunting and Simon Whitlock, but Van Gerwen, who he has not beaten since 2012, will be a true test of his current darting credentials.
PREDICTION: Van Gerwen 16-11 @ 10/1 with Paddy Power
All odds were correct at time of posting.