We enter a lengthy run of televised darts tournaments on Sunday when the World Grand Prix begins inside the Citywest Hotel in Dublin where 32 of the best in the game head to the Irish capital for the crazy double in, double out extravaganza.
We know what we’re going to get from this tournament. Shocks and surprises are guaranteed but Michael van Gerwen dodged them all last year and went away with the title. He will be out to defend it this week.
2018 – Michael van Gerwen
2017 – Daryl Gurney
2016 – Micihael van Gerwen
2015 – Robert Thornton
2014 – Michael van Gerwen
2013 – Phil Taylor
2012 – Michael van Gerwen
2011 – Phil Taylor
2010 – James Wade
2009 – Phil Taylor
This is the one tournament of the year where the format is completely different. In every leg players have to hit a double to start scoring and then hit another to finish the leg. We are at set play in this tournament as well. The first round is a bunfight over the best-of-three sets while the second round and quarter finals move up to the best-of-five. It is the best-of-seven for the semi-finals and then the champion will be decided over the best-of-nine sets in the final on the Saturday. Each set throughout the tournament is the best-of-five legs and the deciding set will be settled in the fifth leg rather than a tiebreak.
There are only eight seeds in this tournament, four of which are in the top half with the defending champion and number one seed Michael van Gerwen being the main one. He will be expected to go deep in the tournament but the likes of Gary Anderson, James Wade and Michael Smith, the other three seeds in this section of the draw, will be looking to stop him and they probably have the format to do so as well.
12 unseeded players are in this section as well and there are some very good ones among them. Mervyn King is a former finalist here while Ian White has had an excellent season on the European Tour and both are in this section. The dangerous Jeffrey de Zwaan and Dimitri Van den Bergh are in here too as are the likes of Joe Cullen, Jamie Hughes and Simon Whitlock. Ricky Evans, Steve Beaton and John Henderson are also in this top half.
The World Matchplay champion Rob Cross is the headline attraction in the bottom half of the draw but he has got a stinker of a first round clash with Mensur Suljovic to overcome just to get one step into the tournament. Former winner Daryl Gurney, last year’s beaten finalist Peter Wright and the Grand Slam of Darts champion Gerwyn Price make up the seeded players in what is a very tough bottom half of the draw.
There are some terrific unseeded names in this bottom half of things. The UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall is one of them while BDO world champion Glen Durrant is another. Former finalist in this tournament Dave Chisnall is also in this part of the draw as are Adrian Lewis, Krzysztof Ratajski, Danny Noppert and Stephen Bunting. Max Hopp, Jonny Clayton and Vincent van der Voort ensure whoever comes through this part of the draw will have worked very hard to do do.
I’ll get stuck into a couple of outright bets and while I’m not against taking on MVG in this format, strangely most of the best value comes in the bottom half so that is where my two picks are going to be. Mensur Suljovic is my main bet and he is quite a strong fancy even though he’s landed a dog of a draw in Rob Cross in round one. In saying that, Cross has never won a match in this tournament so Suljovic shouldn’t fear Cross. Suljovic has made the semi-final of this event in three of the last four years and in the last two of them he’s been touched up in a deciding set so he really isn’t far away from a special record here. He made both semi-finals on the floor in Dublin leading up to this tournament and has two tour wins in the last five weeks, one of which was in the European Tour. Few men arrive to this tournament in better form so the 25/1 looks a no brainer. He’d be half this price if he didn’t have Cross in the first round.
In the bottom quarter Dave Chisnall looks a little overpriced to me at 50/1. He has won three times on Tour this year and has made a couple of finals in the last six weeks so he is also in decent form. He has made the final of this competition and the semi-final and last year he was a quarter finalist, when he ran into eventual winner Michael van Gerwen so that was probably a better effort than it looks on paper. Chisnall is a heavy scorer and when he has the range on tops or 18s he gets going quickly too. I’m not as keen on him as I am on Suljovic but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he runs hot for a while.
I’ll have a couple of pokes at the quarters in the top half and I’ll take MVG on with former champion here James Wade. It was only a few weeks ago Wade was winning a floor event so he is in decent nick and we all know his doubling prowess. He also doesn’t fear MVG, and in this format he should fear him either. He has a little work to do before he would face van Gerwen in the quarter final but so does the Dutchman. Were the two to meet in the last eight there’s no way Wade would be 6/1 to beat him so it makes sense to take the 7/2 on Wade to win the quarter and if he doesn’t have to play MVG it is value all the way.
In the second quarter, if we oppose Gary Anderson, which I think we have to do because he hasn’t been very active this season, and when he has he hasn’t pulled up any trees, the only player in this quarter who has had any sort of run in this event is Simon Whitlock. Sadly his form is awful so we need to look elsewhere. Michael Smith is the other seed in the section and he hasn’t been past the last 16 here and neither has Joe Cullen. Ian White is a former quarter finalist though and having had his best season on the European Tour, I’m hoping that confidence has given him the inspiration to go well here. I don’t think this quarter is going to take a lot of winning but White has winning form with him and a good crack here in the past. At 6/1 he’ll do for me.
Back M.Suljovic to win World Grand Prix (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 26.00 with Coral (1/2 1-2)
PLACED – Back D.Chisnall to win World Grand Prix (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 51.00 with Betfair (1/2 1-2)
Back him here:
Back J.Wade to win 1st Quarter for a 1/10 stake at 7.00 with Boylesports
Back him here:
Back I.White to win 2nd Quarter for a 2/10 stake at 7.00 with William Hill
Back him here: