Peter Wright has been handed the worst possible start in his BetVictor World Matchplay title quest, which commences on Saturday at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
Now in its 22nd year, the Professional Darts Corporations’ (PDC) second oldest major tournament, which has a £450,000 prize fund, sees the top 16 players from the PDC Order of Merit, who qualify by right, seeded for the first round where they are drawn against the 16 ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers.
And while Mendham-based ace Wright has been ranked within the top eight seeds, his passage to the second round could not be more difficult after being drawn against fellow Premier League star Kim Huybrechts, who tops the ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers, in the standout tie of the opening round of the prestigious tournament.
The 45-year-old heads into the competition on the back of mixed fortunes in recent weeks after following up a final defeat at the Japan Masters, where he eventually lost to Phil Taylor 8-7, with a surprise 6-5 defeat to Devon Petersen in the second round of the European Darts Open in Dusseldorf last week.
Wright, who defeated Simon Whitlock to take the title last year, struggled against Petersen, who raced into a 5-1 lead at the Maritim Hotel.
Snakebite responded to win the next four legs to take the match into a decider but Petersen would seal the dramatic win in style with a spectacular 121 checkout and 12-dart leg.