The World Grand Prix gets underway on Sunday evening when the Citywest Hotel plays host to the top darting stars for the first time in 2019, on a night where the two biggest names in the sport at present open up their campaign for the title.
Michael van Grwen and Gary Anderson are among the players who will attempt to light up the first night of the competition but this is an extremely competitive draw and there are a number of good matches. The best-of-three set format only adds to the drama.
First Four Matches
There are eight matches over the course of the opening night of the tournament and we get underway with a couple of young guns as Ricky Evans takes on the debutant Chris Dobey before the former finalist in Dublin, Mervyn King, takes on the dangerous Dimitri Van den Bergh, who like Dobey will be making his bow in the event. The third match of the night sees two men who have had good campaigns on the European Tour going at it when Joe Cullen faces Ian White and then we reach the halfway stage of the night with a battle between Jeffrey de Zwaan and Steve Beaton.
Later Four Matches
The big names begin to come out of the woodwork in the second half of the night. James Wade is a former winner here but John Henderson has a better record than you might expect on this stage so their meeting will be interesting. Michael Smith on the other hand has a pretty ordinary past in this event but he could improve that when he takes on the former finalist Simon Whitlock. Michael van Gerwen then begins the defence of his title when he takes on the debutant and former BDO star Jamie Hughes and then the action concludes with Gary Anderson looking to make it into the second round at the expense of Keegan Brown.
Two bets catch my eye on the opening night of the competition. This is very much a tournament for the course horses. It can take a lot of getting used to with the double start and it is one of those events that you either like or you don’t. Mervyn King must like it. He is a former finalist here and as experienced as they come. He is probably past his best but this format levels things out and gives him a good chance against Dimitri Van den Bergh. The Belgian would be a worthy favourite in a normal format against the majority of players but if there is an Achilles heel to his game it comes in the form of his doubling and that isn’t good in this tournament. I think King offers value with his experience.
Later in the night Simon Whitlock looks good value to see off Michael Smith. Smith has a really poor record in this tournament for someone of his quality and the reason for that is the amount of doubles he can be prone to missing. They are the reason why he hasn’t had a brilliant season so far and it probably won’t need much for his confidence on them to go completely. Whitlock isn’t anything special these days but he has made the final here in the past and when he has been at his best his hitting doubles under pressure is one of the key factors. If the door is opened up here Whitlock is good enough to plough through it.
WON – Back M.King to beat D.Van den Bergh for a 4/10 stake at 2.25 with Betfair
Back him here:
Back S.Whitlock to beat M.Smith for a 4/10 stake at 2.75 with Coral