The inaugural Betfred Women’s World Matchplay takes place in Blackpool on Sunday, as the iconic Winter Gardens plays host to the historic eight-player event.
The first fully-televised PDC women’s tournament will be held on a blockbuster afternoon of action, with live coverage on Sky Sports and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners.
The field is comprised of the top eight players from the 2022 PDC Women’s Series Order of Merit, with five different nations represented in the knockout tournament.
The new £25,000 event will see the winner receive the £10,000 top prize, plus a spot in November’s Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton.
Top seed Lisa Ashton headlines this year’s showpiece following her incredible start to 2022, which has seen her claim seven Women’s Series titles from just 12 events.
Ashton, who became the first female player to secure a PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School in 2020, is now aiming to write another glorious chapter in her glittering career.
“This is fantastic for me,” said the four-time Lakeside Champion, who plays Scottish teenager Chloe O’Brien in her opener.
“I’ve always wanted to play at the Winter Gardens, but when I lost my Tour Card I didn’t think I’d get the chance.
“Winning the Women’s World Matchplay would be right up there with my greatest achievements. I would love to have this trophy on my CV.
“It is another massive opportunity for me, and I would love to be the first winner. I know what I can do, and I just hope I can produce it on the big stage tomorrow.”
Elsewhere, Fallon Sherrock is bidding to create more big stage history on her Blackpool bow, and the second seed takes on Irish teenager Katie Sheldon in an intriguing quarter-final tussle.
Former Grand Slam quarter-finalist Sherrock has scooped a hat-trick of Women’s Series titles this season, although TV debutant Sheldon is relishing the chance to take on one of the sport’s trailblazers.
“I’m absolutely buzzing. I cannot describe it,” said the 18-year-old, a regular on the Winmau Development Tour.
“It’s a dream come true and to be playing on such an iconic stage, I cannot wait.
“I think you have to relish the underdog tag, but everyone has three darts on that stage, so anything can happen.
“The last time I played Fallon I beat her, but it’s going to be completely different up there. I just have to play my own darts and see what happens.”
Third seed Lorraine Winstanley takes on Wales’ Rhian Griffiths for a place in the semi-finals, fresh from claiming her maiden Women’s Series title in Barnsley last month.
“Confidence is everything, and I feel really happy and relaxed with my game,” said Winstanley, a former World Masters winner and a Lakeside Championship runner-up.
“Rhian is a great player. We had a real battle at the last Women’s Series. She’s got that fight, and nobody can write her off.
“Winning this title would genuinely be top of the pile for me,” added Winstanley, who admits it would be a dream to feature in this year’s Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts.
“I love the Grand Slam. As a spectator it’s one of my favourite tournaments. It’s cut-throat but it’s exciting, so it’s another great incentive.”
Sunday afternoon’s other quarter-final will see Dutch star Aileen de Graaf play Laura Turner, who is swapping the Sky Sports commentary box for the big stage.
De Graaf comes into this year’s showpiece fresh from featuring in two Women’s Series finals last month, while Turner made back-to-back finals in Events Five & Six en route to qualification.
“It’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking, and from the comfort of the commentary box, this is really putting yourself out there,” Turner joked.
“I just hope I can produce the levels I found at the PDC Women’s Series.
“Lisa is the frontrunner this weekend, and I’ve beaten her twice this year, so that gives you confidence.
“For me it’s about performing consistently, and I’ve got Aileen de Graaf, who I’ve had a lot of tough battles against recently, so I’m hoping I come out on the winning side tomorrow.”
Ashton has been installed as the 5/4 tournament favourite with title sponsor Betfred, with Sherrock closely behind at 13/8, ahead of Winstanley at 7/1 and Griffiths at 12/1.
Fans are also able to pay at the Winter Gardens on Sunday, with the action getting underway from 1300 BST.
2022 Betfred Women’s World Matchplay
Sunday July 24
(1) Lisa Ashton v Chloe O’Brien (8)
(4) Aileen de Graaf v Laura Turner (5)
(2) Fallon Sherrock v Katie Sheldon (7)
(3) Lorraine Winstanley v Rhian Griffiths (6)
Schedule of Play (1300 BST)
Lisa Ashton v Chloe O’Brien
Aileen de Graaf v Laura Turner
Fallon Sherrock v Katie Sheldon
Lorraine Winstanley v Rhian Griffiths
Ashton/O’Brien v De Graaf/Turner
Sherrock/Sheldon v Winstanley/Griffiths
Ashton/O’Brien/De Graaf/Turner v Sherrock/Sheldon v Winstanley/Griffiths
Quarter-Finals – Best of seven legs
Semi-Finals – Best of nine legs
Final – Best of 11 legs