James Wade says he’s deliberately avoiding discovering out his Matchplay draw

I might be making my 19th straight appearance in the World Matchplay this weekend in Blackpool, but this is the least I have ever taken my position in darts for granted.

I have been at the top of the game for two decades and I am really proud of that.

If you look at the world rankings from 2010, I am there in second place. Some bloke called Phil Taylor pipped me to the top – I don’t remember him, he must have been a flash in the pan.

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Most of the names in that top 20 are gone. Only Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson are on that list and joining me at Winter Gardens this week. It was a challenge to qualify this time around, but it has made me even more determined to never be in that position again.

It is no secret that I love the World Matchplay. It is the first tournament that I won and I have been in a further five finals since. I have success, but for me it is the setting, the venue, the crowd. It is perfect.

James Wade in action at the World Matchplay in 2022
James Wade is still competing with the very best names in darts

Not many people will know this, but I still don’t know who I am going to play, despite the fact the draw was completed last week.

I don’t like to know who I am playing. It is a challenge, of course, for my management, my wife and particularly my good friend, Dan. Five times – at time of writing – I have had to put the phone down while he has been talking about the draw.

It is not really a superstition, it is more – with the greatest of respect – that the opponent is irrelevant. If you prepare properly and do the right things at the right times, you will win.

People have been beaten before they even get on stage by simply looking at the draw and that cannot be right. I will find out who I play when I get to the venue and Sky Sports interview me.

I have prepared great this week. In the words of Elton John: Did you think this fool could never win? Look at me, I’m coming back again!