Darts: The 2014 BetVictor World Matchplay begins on Saturday

Last Updated: 19/07/14 7:08pm

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Taylor: Defending World Matchplay in Blackpool

Taylor: Defending World Matchplay in Blackpool

Sky Bet

The 2014 BetVictor World Matchplay begins on Saturday as 32 players compete for a record prize fund in Blackpool.

Defending champion Phil Taylor chases an amazing 15th win in the prestigious summer tournament.

'The Power' has dominated the competition for the past two decades, with last year's 18-13 win over Adrian Lewis in a thrilling final being his 14th win at the Winter Gardens and a record sixth successive triumph.

The Stoke legend - who also hit the event's first nine-dart finish back in 2002 - has not been defeated in Blackpool since he was knocked out in the 2007 semi-finals by Terry Jenkins, having embarked on a 30-game winning streak since.

Taylor will enter the fray with a first round clash against Darren Webster on Sunday evening, and said: "I love the World Matchplay, and coming back to Blackpool always seems to bring the best out of me.

"It's my favourite tournament, without a shadow of a doubt. There's something magical about the place and I've got so many great memories, but it would mean a huge amount to win another title next week."

The Englishman has been knocked from the top of the PDC Order of Merit this year and has also seen the World Championship, UK Open and Premier League Darts titles slip from his grasp - but is in confident mood ahead of his return to Blackpool.

"I've been practising really well," said Taylor. "I've made a little change to my darts and I'm really excited.

"It's not going to be easy because there's lots of players playing really well at the minute - we all know what Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis are doing but James Wade's just won his first event for a couple of years and Peter Wright won last week, so he'll be dangerous."

World champion van Gerwen, the number one seed for the BetVictor World Matchplay, will help to open the tournament on Saturday evening when he takes on experienced campaigner Steve Beaton in the first round.

"I'm looking forward to it and I'm ready for it," said van Gerwen, a semi-finalist in Blackpool last summer. "It's one of the best venues we play at and the atmosphere is fantastic.

Watch the World Matchplay unfold, starting on Sky Sports 1HD tonight at 19.00

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