Brendan Dolan dethrones Michael van Gerwen with shock win; we are back for more World Matchplay action on Monday at the iconic Winter Gardens in Blackpool as the world’s top stars battle it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy – live on Sky Sports Action
Last Updated: 16/07/23 11:50pm
Brendan Dolan created more history by dumping out defending World Matchplay champion Michael van Gerwen in the first round in Blackpool on Sunday.
In one of the biggest shocks at the Winter Gardens, Dolan produced a wonderful performance to stun the pre-tournament favourite 10-7.
Reigning champion Van Gerwen, who underwent dental surgery in June and has been playing through the pain barrier, began his defence of the Phil Taylor Trophy as firm favourite against world No 27 Dolan in the evening session.
Sunday’s bumper double-session saw eight first-round ties take place at the Empress Ballroom, as world champion Michael Smith kicked off his title tilt with a comfortable win over Steve Beaton.
World Matchplay First Round: Sunday, July 16
|Afternoon Session||Danny Noppert||10-8||Martin Schindler|
|Dirk van Duijvenbode||12-10||Kim Huybrechts|
|Damon Heta||10-5||Josh Rock|
|James Wade||8-10||Chris Dobey|
|Evening Session||Nathan Aspinall||10-7||Krzysztof Ratajski|
|Luke Humphries||10-2||Jose de Sousa|
|Michael van Gerwen||7-10||Brendan Dolan|
|Michael Smith||10-2||Steve Beaton|
Dolan, nicknamed ‘The History Maker’ after his nine-dart heroics at the World Grand Prix back in 2011, won four of the first five legs to lead Van Gerwen by three, but a stunning 137 from the Dutchman saw him draw level.
Dolan then opened up an 8-6 lead before making no mistake with a clinical 62 finish to move within a leg of a huge upset.
The 49-year-old from Northern Ireland then dethroned the reigning champion by pinning double three.
“To beat Michael van Gerwen on a big stage, I suppose coming into this he had extra pressure, he’s the defending champion. He was unbelievable in Poland last weekend and I know he’s suffering and he’s trying to recover,” Dolan told Sky Sports.
“He probably isn’t getting in as much practice as he would like and it wasn’t the Michael there tonight that we would normally expect, but I am over the moon.
“I made enough opportunities and took enough of them to win the game.”
Brendan Dolan is a quality player, we know that. You can’t be better than these every single night of the year. He is through and let me tell you who else is pleased Michael van Gerwen’s out – it’s the nastiness of this competition. Every single other player in this event is glad that Brendan Dolan won because you don’t want all the big hitters in. There’s now an opportunity for someone to get through to a semi-final or final that they didn’t think would have been as easy.
Wayne Mardle on MVG’s shock exit
World No 1 Smith avoided the same fate as Van Gerwen, defying a below-par performance to defeat the evergreen Beaton, making his 22nd World Matchplay appearance at the age of 59.
The opening exchanges were dominated by missed doubles, but a majestic 161 finish from Smith in leg five catapulted him into a 4-1 lead, and the St Helens star converted a further two ton-plus finishes to wrap up a comprehensive 10-2 win.
“I didn’t miss a thing in practice, but I came up here and I didn’t produce,” conceded Smith, who was left frustrated by his performance, despite the result.
“I think I tried too hard instead of relaxing. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but I’m still in the tournament and I’ll take the win.
“I won ugly, and that’s something I wasn’t able to do a couple of years ago. I know the game is there, and hopefully I can produce it on Tuesday night.”
Luke Humphries produced the performance of the tournament so far in his 10-2 demolition of Jose de Sousa, averaging almost 102 to see off the former Grand Slam champion.
Nathan Aspinall fired in eight 180s during his 10-7 win over 2021 semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski, producing a monstrous 151 checkout to move 7-4 ahead, and sealing his progress with a superb 12-dart leg.
In the afternoon session, Dirk van Duijvenbode won through a thrilling tie-break against Kim Huybrechts, surviving two match darts to condemn the Belgian to his eighth first-round exit in nine World Matchplay appearances.
Chris Dobey ended his winless run at the Winter Gardens with a gripping 10-8 victory over 2007 champion James Wade.
Australian No 1 Damon Heta sported a baggy green cap and his cricket bat for his Ashes-inspired walk-on and he celebrated his first win on the famous stage, courtesy of a resounding 10-5 success against highly-fancied debutant Josh Rock.
Dutchman Danny Noppert, the 2022 semi-finalist, survived a late scare to see off Martin Schindler in a gruelling encounter.
World Matchplay First Round: Monday, July 17
|Dimitri Van den Bergh||vs||Ross Smith|
|Ryan Searle||vs||Raymond van Barneveld|
|Peter Wright||vs||Andrew Gilding|
|Jonny Clayton||vs||Gabriel Clemens|
Peter Wright, the 2021 champion, enters the fray as the first round draws to a close on Monday night, and the world No 2 will play UK Open champion Andrew Gilding for a place in the last 16.
Raymond van Barneveld will also make his World Matchplay return, with the five-time world champion securing his qualification following a five-year hiatus.
“I really feel like I’m coming back and I’m proud of myself for that,” insisted Van Barneveld, who will meet 15th seed Ryan Searle in round one.
“It feels really good to be going back to Blackpool, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. It’s like a summer World Championship, the atmosphere there is brilliant.”
Meanwhile, 2020 champion Dimitri Van den Bergh locks horns with European champion Ross Smith in Monday’s opener, before Wales’ World Cup winner Jonny Clayton faces Germany’s No 1 Gabriel Clemens.
We are back for more World Matchplay action at the iconic Winter Gardens on Monday at 7pm as the world’s top stars battle it out for the Phil Taylor Trophy – live on Sky Sports Action.