The 31st edition of the World Matchplay will take place next weekend, with Nathan Aspinall looking to defend his title from last year in Blackpool.

The Asp impressed last year, defeating Krzysztof Ratajski (10-7), Danny Noppert (11-9), Chris Dobey (16-12) and Joe Cullen (17-9) on his way to the final. There he met Jonny Clayton, who had defeated, among others, previous winner Dimitri van den Bergh and Luke Humphries on his way to the final.

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In the final, Aspinall went into the first break with a 3-2 lead after Clayton had squandered three break chances in the fifth game. The Asp broke his Welsh opponent in the sixth game with a 108 finish, but Clayton came back strongly with a check-out of 141 and a 12-dart to level the score at 4-4.

Aspinall then made another check-out of 108, but Clayton responded with a finish of 101 to level again at the second break. The third session ultimately proved decisive, as Aspinall won five straight matches, including an 11-dart and a 12-dart, to take a 10-5 lead. After the break, Aspinall extended his advantage further. He hit finishes of 170 and 115 to make it 13-5 and was already smelling victory.

He then extended his lead to 14-5 after Clayton missed two chances in game 19 and Aspinall Tops scored to win the match. Clayton also had a chance to win in game 20 but missed twice on double 16. Aspinall took advantage of this and made it 15-5 with double 8.

In the 22nd match, Clayton finally managed to pull away to 16-6 with a 16-dart shot. Aspinall immediately responded with a 16-dart shot to move just one step away from the title. Clayton had five more chances to extend the match but was unable to take advantage. Aspinall then hit his sixth match dart with a double 5 and was crowned World Matchplay winner for the first time in his career.

The Asp will face fellow countryman Luke Woodhouse in the final evening match of the first round next Saturday night. If he progresses to the second round, he will face a fight against the winner of the match between Danny Noppert and James Wade.