As the World Matchplay reaches its 25th year, Wayne Mardle picks out some of the talking points ahead of nine days by the seaside in Blackpool as Michael van Gerwen chases another title in a loaded top half of the draw and a couple of relentless beasts look set to go deep from the bottom half.
This year marks the 25th staging of the World Matchplay at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, but for the first time in the tournament's history, there will be no Phil Taylor in the 32-man field.
Michael Smith secured his maiden World Series of Darts title with an 8-2 victory over Rob Cross in the final of the 21.co.uk Shanghai Darts Masters on Saturday.
Gary Anderson will begin his quest for back-to-back PDC World Series of Darts titles against Royden Lam at the Shanghai Darts Masters on Friday.
World No 1 Michael van Gerwen will headline the opening night of the World Matchplay later this month, with Adrian Lewis also in action on Day One at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
Gary Anderson secured his sixth World Series of Darts title with a superb 8-4 comeback victory against Rob Cross in the William Hill US Darts Masters final on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort.
Michael van Gerwen will begin his defence of the William Hill US Darts Masters title against new William Hill North American Championship winner Jeff Smith in Las Vegas on Friday.
Former Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith sealed a return to the William Hill World Darts Championship by beating John Norman Jnr to win the North American Championship.
Top seed Michael van Gerwen will play fellow Dutchman Jeffrey De Zwaan in the first round of the World Matchplay.
American duo Dennis Sayre and John Norman Jr are a step closer to qualifying for the World Darts Championship.
James Wade and Michael van Gerwen are the only former champions named in the field to challenge for the World Matchplay, live on Sky Sports from July 21.
Michael van Gerwen struck the first nine-darter on the European Tour for five years.
The European Darts Matchplay begins on Friday, affording its participants the final opportunity to qualify for the World Matchplay, which will be live on Sky Sports.
Ian White claimed a second Pro Tour title of the year, beating Darren Webster to win Players Championship where Adrian Lewis fired a superb nine-dart finish.
Mervyn King claimed a first PDC title since 2014 thanks to his hugely impressive 6-2 win over James Wade at Players Championship 15 on Tuesday.
Mensur Suljovic secured his first European Tour title of the year with an 8-3 victory over Simon Whitlock in the final of the inaugural Danish Darts Open in Copenhagen.
Gerwyn Price will still play in the PDC World Series events in Las Vegas and Shanghai despite rupturing his Achilles tendon.
Peter Wright won his first PDC title of the year with a 6-4 victory over Rob Cross in the final of Players Championship 14 at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan on Sunday.
"The big one is the World Matchplay which I have my eye on" - Michael van Gerwen is targeting glory in Blackpool this summer.
Michael van Gerwen produced yet another sensational display to beat a resurgent Adrian Lewis to regain the Gibraltar Darts Trophy.