Betfred World Matchplay Preview: World's finest return to Milton Keynes
(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Milton Keynes prepares once again to welcome the world's best as professional darts continues with the Betfred World Matchplay series on Saturday evening.

The top 16 will be joined by an equal number of Order of Merit players in the nine-day tournament at the Marshall Arena on 18 July.

Competitors will be hoping to land the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy and the £150,000 in prize money which it accompanies.

The event will mark Milton Keynes' third PDC tournament this year, with the Buckinghamshire town also set to host the upcoming Unicorn Challenge Tour and Unibet Premier League behind closed doors.

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The form guide

Peter Wright enters the competition on the back of his third ranking title this calendar year, defeating an in-form Gerwyn Price in a hotly-contested PDC Summer Series Day Five final last Sunday.

The Summer Series marked the return of professional darts after a one-month absence.

Wright, reigning World Champion, was close to winning the first of the five one-day competitions, only to be edged out by world number one Michael van Gerwen.

Outsider Ryan Joyce then impressed with a high-quality comeback against Dave Chisnall for his first PDC ranking title, as van Gerwen secured a double on Day Three before James Wade was victorious on Day Four.

Wright told the PDC that his winning Day Five display was "ideal preparation" ahead of the World Matchplay.

First Round: Joyce to face Whitlock

Summer Series Day Three winner and maiden ranking title-holder Joyce will be optimistic with seemingly winnable opening round tie against Simon Whitlock.

World number one van Gerwen, meanwhile, takes on Brendan Dolan and Peter Wright kicks off against Jose De Sousa.

Day One - Saturday 18 July, 18:00 BST

Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce
Krzysztof Ratajski v Jermaine Wattimena
James Wade v Keegan Brown
Michael van Gerwen v Brendan Dolan
Gary Anderson v Justin Pipe

Day Two - Sunday 19 July, 18:00 BST

Mensur Suljovic v Jamie Hughes
Glen Durrant v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Rob Cross v Gabriel Clemens
Peter Wright v Jose De Sousa
Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton

Day Three - Monday 20 July, 18:00 BST

Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort
Ian White v Joe Cullen
Daryl Gurney v Ricky Evans
Gerwyn Price v Danny Noppert
Adrian Lewis v Steve Beaton

Day Four - Tuesday 21 July, 18:00 BST

Nathan Aspinall v Dimitri Van den Bergh