James Wade will be looking to build on his UK Open victory at the World Matchplay in Blackpool which starts this week.
Wade convincingly beat in-form Wes Newton in Bolton to secure another major title and show everyone he means business after recovering from a series of personal issues.
Wade is a genuine free bets contender to knock Phil Taylor off his crown as the number one ranked player in the world and is the most consistent performer on the PDC circuit when in form. However, the left-hander needs a run of positive tournament showings to give him the confidence and belief that he can reach the very top on a regular basis, like he has shown in the past.
2011 Matchplay winner Taylor, on the other hand, will want to prove his doubters wrong after failing to reach the final of the Premier League and the UK Open. The Power will come back strong and will once again be installed as favourite to retain his crown in Blackpool.
If Taylor fails to perform for the third competition in a row, there will be plenty of throwers ready to seize their opportunity. Adrian Lewis, who hammered Taylor in the Premier League semi-final, will want to add the World Matchplay to his World Championship and Premier League champion Gary Anderson will be among the front-runners challenging for his second major title.
Newton’s form has been excellent over the last 12 months and his appearance in the final at Bolton was no surprise. A consistent and quiet performer, Newton has the ability to creep up on players and knows how to churn out victories. He may struggle to emulate Bolton’s showing but will be a dangerous competitor.
Those looking to place a free bet on the event will tell you that Simon Whitlock needs to improve his finishing, something which was excellent in his first 12 months in the PDC following his move from the BDO. The Australian has been pushed back by the emergence of Anderson, Lewis and Newton, but still has the ability to cause an upset.
Paul Nicholson, who has claimed some prized scalps in recent tournaments, is dangerous in front of the cameras but has always fallen at the final hurdle, but this tournament could be the start of a successful career in darts for the Aussie.
Other challengers include Mark Webster who, after an embarrassing Premier League, restored confidence with an impressive showing in Bolton and is never far away while Raymond van Barneveld looks to have dipped in form over the last 18 months and will start to look dangerous before fading away.
Dave Chisnall is the outsider for the tournament. The rookie, who has just moved over from the BDO after a successful World Championship, has create a good impression so far and has the ability to gain momentum as the competition progresses.
Terry Jenkins is the nearly man of darts and that reputation is likely to be backed up in Blackpool while the likes of John Part, Andy Hamilton, Kevin Painter and Colin Lloyd will all be mentioned but will struggle to make an impact.