ST HELENS thrower Michael Smith will launch his bid to go one better than last year when he tackles Wales' Jonny Clayton in the £700,000 Betfred World Matchplay this weekend.

Fellow St Helens thrower Dave Chisnall and Vincent van der Voort will meet in a clash of two quick-throwing players when the action kicks off at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

Smith was runner-up to Rob Cross in last year's decider and warmed up for the latest test when his form grew through the PDC Summer Series last week.

Cross will begin his defence of the Phil Taylor Trophy against debutant Gabriel Clemens.

World number one Michael van Gerwen has drawn Brendan Dolan in the first round, with World Champion Peter Wright drawing Jose De Sousa - who will make history as the first Portugese player to compete in the event.

2018 World Matchplay champion Gary Anderson faces Justin Pipe, and 2007 winner James Wade will play Isle of Wight ace Keegan Brown.

World number three Gerwyn Price has drawn Dutchman Danny Noppert and Nathan Aspinall takes on double World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Northern Ireland's Daryl Gurney meets Ricky Evans, who held on to claim the final qualifying place from the PDC's ProTour Order of Merit.

Glen Durrant and Jeffrey de Zwaan - who have reached a semi-final apiece in the past two years - also clash.

2018 finalist Mensur Suljovic will play Jamie Hughes and another World Matchplay runner-up, Adrian Lewis, takes on veteran star Steve Beaton.

Ian White meets leading ProTour Order of Merit qualifier Joe Cullen, Poland's Krzysztof Ratajski drew Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena and Simon Whitlock, the world number 16, plays debutant Ryan Joyce - who qualified after winning one of the five PDC Summer Series events in Milton Keynes last week.

The Betfred World Matchplay will be held behind closed doors from July 18-26 and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Three former champions will be in action on the opening night on Saturday, with Michael van Gerwen, James Wade and Gary Anderson all set to take to the stage.

2020 Betfred World Matchplay schedule of play:

First round, Saturday, 6pm: 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.

Sunday, 6pm: 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.

Monday, 6pm: 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.

Tuesday, 6pm: Nathan Aspinall v Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Second round, Tuesday: Smith/Clayton v Suljovic/Hughes, Anderson/Pipe v Wade/Brown, Van Gerwen/Dolan v Whitlock/Joyce, Cross/Clemens v Ratajski/Wattimena.

Wednesday, 7pm: Gurney/Evans v Chisnall/Van der Voort, Aspinall/Van den Bergh v White/Cullen, Wright/De Sousa v Durrant/De Zwaan, Price/Noppert v Lewis/Beaton.

Quarter-finals (two each night), Thursday, July 23, 7pm; Friday, July 24, 7pm; semi-finals, Saturday, July 25, 8pm; final, Sunday, July 26, 8.30pm.