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If there was ever a game to ignore the PDC Order of Merit, this one is it. World number 11 Nathan Aspinall takes on Mervyn King – who sits nine spots below him – in what promises to be one of the best first round match-ups at the tournament. One of the reasons we are saying you can toss the rankings out the window in this is because of the head-to-head record between the pair, which reads 2-0 in favour of the more experienced King.
The pair last met in January at the Masters, and King dismissed The Asp 10-3 on that occasion. But, don’t write off the chances of Aspinall here. He is a PDC major winner (UK Open 2019) after all, and has reached the semi-finals of the World Championship, Premier League and Masters in the last two years.
We reckon this game will be much tighter than their previous two meetings, and King may have to dig deep if he is going to see off this rising star of darts for the third time in a row.
Can we shock you? Would you believe that November 2020 is the last time Michael van Gerwen lifted a trophy on the PDC Tour! Even we were surprised to read that, given Mighty Mike’s utter dominance of the sport over the last few years.
Thankfully for van Gerwen, he did manage to rack up a few wins at the Players Championship 20 in the lead into this World Matchplay first round contest with 2019 Brisbane Darts Masters winner Damon Heta. The Aussie arrower has been hotter than Alice Springs on Tour this season and his scoring average has him right in there with the top 10 players in the world right now.
He’s also been living up to his nickname of “The Heat” by burning up the maximums chart during this campaign. In fact, Heta has even been out-doing MVG for 180s per leg ratio this term, and that’s why we fancy him to have more maximums in this match as a result.
Normally, this tie would be an open-and-shut case. Gary Anderson to win, close the door, thank you very much. But, that is certainly not how things look ahead of this first round meeting in Blackpool. Stephen Bunting only lives an hour away from Blackpool and this tournament always seems to have a home crowd feel for The Bullet.
Bunting made the last eight at the World Matchplay in 2019, beating Gerwyn Price along the way, and you just know he’d love to take another high profile scalp here. He also picked off his first PDC title in five years at the Players Championship 17 last month and there is a lot to like about the former BDO World champion’s chances on Monday night.
Gary Anderson has suffering a bit of a dip to his lofty standards at the moment, and it’s three seasons since he picked up a major TV title by himself – although he did win the World Cup of Darts alongside Peter Wright in 2019. Anderson has won this crown before back in 2018 and generally tries to peek his performances for TV events. But, we’re sniffing an upset here, and we’re going to tip Bunting to just squeak out this one.
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