Mark Pearson’s Postcard from Blackpool

If a certain brewery did Saturdays, today would be right up there. Cracking racing including the King George, the British and Irish Lions versus South Africa, and then Saturday night’s biggest party – the semi-finals of the Betfred World Matchplay.

Let’s be honest, then – Friday night didn’t quite deliver if you like your darting drama. The first match was very comfortable for Peter Wright, pictured at the head of this piece, as the 2017 runner-up Wright swept aside Smith 16-7, averaging over 100 in a strong performance to continue his bid to claim the Phil Taylor Trophy for a first time.

Michael Van Gerwen (above), meanwhile, battled to a 16-9 win over Nathan Aspinall, progressing through a contest in which both players each missed 27 darts at a double. The Green Machine admitted to me that he didn’t play great, but he’s in the semi-finals.

And what a semi-final that will be. Three- time World Champ Michael Van Gerwen, versus 2020 World Champ Peter Wright. Snakebite has been throwing the best darts so far at the Winter Gardens, but this tungsten tussle could just ignite Van Gerwen; after all, we all know what MVG is capable of.

I sat down with Michael earlier this week (look out for our exclusive interview on our social media channels) and he admitted to me how tough the last few months have been because of not playing great, and being away from his young family.

As a top-class sportsman, when you set incredibly high standards, it can be extremely frustrating when you don’t hit them. However, I think MVG is just one performance from bouncing back, and that could happen here in Blackpool against Peter Wright.

We warm up tonight with our current champ, unbeaten in the Betfred World Matchplay, Dimitri Van Den Bergh. He takes on Krzysztof Ratajski. The Polish Eagle has been consistent throughout this tournament, but dancing Dimitri will have too much and should advance to the final for the second year running.

If you are lucky enough to be going to the Winter Gardens enjoy the party, and if you are watching at home, we’ll have more drama in Blackpool than Alan Bradley getting hit by a tram.

Enjoy the action!

Whenever you bet, Betfred

Pics courtesy Lawrence Lustig