World Grand Prix – Day Two Preview

We now move onto day two at the World Grand Prix, the opening night saw 7 of the 8 matches go to the deciding set. Will we see as many games going all the way tonight?

Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and James Wade all start their campaigns, and the ever improving Ian White, many peoples contender for a run deep into the tournament is also in action. There is a huge match for Justin Pipe and Steve Beaton, both on a barren run in the TV major ranking tournaments.

Here are some stats and analysis to give you the lowdown on each match.

Gilding vs Whitlock

Andrew Gilding
• Gilding’s best performance on tour this season came at the UK Open in March when he reached the semi-finals before losing narrowly 10-8 to Michael van Gerwen. He has only gone past the last 16 in a ranking tournament on 3 occasions since then though.
• This is his second appearance at the World Grand Prix having played in the tournament last season; he defeated Darren Webster in the first round last year and bowed out in the second round to Phil Taylor 3-1 after winning the opening set 3-0.
• Gilding leads their head to head record 2-1 and was victorious in their most recent meeting when he won a last leg decider at a pro tour event in July of this year.

Simon Whitlock
• Whitlock is making his 6th consecutive appearance at the World Grand Prix since making his debut in 2010. His best showing was when he reached the quarter-finals in 2013. Last season he lost in the opening round to Richie Burnett.
• His best performances on tour have been reaching 3 semi-finals and 1 quarter-final. The most recent semi-final appearance was in September.
• At the World Matchplay in July he ended a run of 5 consecutive first round defeats in PDC major ranking tournaments when he won he first round match against Jelle Klaasen, he exited in the next round though against Ian White.

Summary
Both players could have had tougher first round matches so they won’t have been upset with the way the draw worked out. Gilding has steadily risen up the rankings over the past couple of seasons and showed at the UK Open he can perform on the big stage against the best players; his overall form on tour recently though has been patchier. Whitlock was a perennial figure in the later stages of TV major tournaments, but over the last year hasn’t shown enough to suggest he can bring enough consistency too go deep here. Whitlock starts as favourite, but if Gilding puts him under pressure early a win for the underdog wouldn’t really be a surprise.

Pipe vs Beaton

Justin Pipe
• Pipe has been a constant at the World Grand Prix since making his debut in 2011 and does have some previous form having reached the semi-final in 2013 and also a quarter-final. He lost in the first round last year though.
• Pipe has been beaten in the first game in his last 8 appearances in PDC major ranking events, meaning he hasn’t won a match in a major ranking event since December 2013.
• In their head to head record in past meetings Pipe leads Beaton 3 wins to 1 and has won each of the last 3. They haven’t played since 2012 though.

Steve Beaton
• From this year’s field at the World Grand Prix only Phil Taylor has played more years in the event than Beaton has. His best performance came over 10 years ago when he reached the semi-finals in 2004. In the last two years he lost in the 1st round to Phil Taylor (2014) and James Wade (2013).
• Beaton has lost in his first match in his last 9 PDC major ranking tournaments, stretching back to the Players Championship in 2013 and he hasn’t been past the last 16 in one since 2009.
• On the pro tour he has failed to get past the last 16 of a ranking tournament since October of last year.

Summary
With neither player having won a match in a PDC TV major ranking tournament since 2013 this is a chance for both to end that run and maybe gain some confidence back on the TV stage. Due to their recent record it could be a nervy match and there is as much at stake in this game as any other first round game. I wouldn’t be betting on this match and have no strong opinion on who will win.

King vs Jenkins

Mervyn King
• This will be his 9th consecutive World Grand Prix dating back to his debut in 2007. From 8 1st round matches he has lost 3 of them. He had his best run in the tournament in 2012 when he reached the final losing to van Gerwen after being 3-0 and 4-1 up.
• On the pro tour this year he hasn’t gone past a quarter-final in any event. Interestingly the last 3 times he has reached a semi-final or better they were on the big stage. He reached the semi-finals or the Grand Slam and European Championships and the final of the Masters all in October/November last year. He has an excellent calibre in TV events in the PDC and previously from his BDO days.
• King defeated Jenkins in the first round of the Grand Prix in 2012 the year he reached the final. For the record King lost the opening set in the 1st round match before winning 2-1

Terry Jenkins
• Jenkins hasn’t missed a World Grand Prix since making his debut at the event in 2005. He reached the final in consecutive years (2006 & 2007), and has reached a further two semi-finals. He has only won 2 games in the last 5 year at the Grand Prix though.
• His best result in a ranking event in 2015 came in September when he won a pro tour tournament; he did also reach the final of a Euro Tour event earlier in the season. He lost in his opening game at the UK Open and World Matchplay though.
• In their past meetings they are level with 10 wins each but Jenkins has the definite edge recently having won their last 5 meetings (all over the last 2 years).

Summary
No lack of experience in this match with both players having years at the top level of the game. Although it might be said that neither player has played their best darts consistently for a while they have shown they can go deep in these major tournaments still. It really is hard to pick a winner in this game so I think I’ll sit on the fence but maybe Jenkins recent record vs King will be the key factor.

Wade vs Suljovic

James Wade
• From the current World Grand Prix field only Phil Taylor has played more games at the event than James Wade. He is a 2 time winner and most recently he reached the final in 2014, beating Thornton, Anderson and Taylor before losing to van Gerwen.
• Wade has won 2 tour events this season, but probably his best tournament was at the World Matchplay in July when he ended Phil Taylor’s long winning run on the Blackpool stage on his way to the final.

Mensur Suljovic
• This is his first appearance at the World Grand Prix. He has good experience of the big TV stage though having reached the quarter-finals of the UK Open (twice) and the World Matchplay in July where he claimed the scalp of Gary Anderson.
• His best tournaments on the tour have been two semi-final appearances, most recently on Friday in a Players Championship event. He has established himself in the top 32 and is a very consistent performer.
• Suljovic leads Wade 4-3 in their past head to head meetings; he won their last encounter which was as recently as last Friday. In 2015 they have played 4 times and shared the games 2 each. On the big TV stage they have won 1 game each (Suljovic at the World Champs in 2010 and Wade earlier this year at the Matchplay).

Summary
Wade has a very good record in this tournament having won in twice previously and reaching the final last year. He is having a very consistent season and his final appearance in the World Matchplay again shows how well he has been performing. There is no doubting Suljovic is a dangerous opponent for anyone and he has tasted success against Wade in the past and very recently. Without having seen Suljovic in this format it is hard to know how he will adapt but I think he will settle in well to it. I expect Suljovic to run Wade close but for Wade to come through. I certainly wouldn’t rule out Suljovic though.

White vs Caven

Ian White
• White is making his 4th appearance in the tournament. He reached the last 16 on his debut in 2012 beating van Barneveld in the first round, but in the last two seasons he lost in the first round to Chisnall (2013) and Mansell (2014), only winning 2 legs against Mansell in that defeat.
• White has reached 4 finals on the tour this season and has just broken in the top 8 in the PDC Order of Merit. Most recently he won a pro tour event last Friday.
• In PDC TV majors his best performance is reaching a quarter-final, the most recent of these was at the World Matchplay in July where he pushed the eventual champion van Gerwen very hard before bowing out.

Jamie Caven
• In his 5 previous appearances at the World Grand Prix Caven has failed to progress past the first round, in the last two years he lost a deciding set to Taylor (2013) and Wright (2014).
• Caven’s best performance on tour this season was a semi-final appearance in the Dutch Darts Masters in June, he has reached as far as the quarter-final on two other occasions.
• In their past meetings it is Caven who leads 5-4. Their last meeting was on the TV stage last November when Caven won their first round match at the Players Championship finals by 6 legs to 4.

Summary
This should be a very watchable game and one of the ones I am most looking forward to this evening. White has shown great consistency this season and his whole level has risen each year. He is danger to anyone in the tournament and it’s only a matter of time before he reaches a major semi-final. Caven has had some unfortunate matches on TV where he has played well enough to win only to suffer from some missed doubles or an opponent raising their game. The way White has been playing it is hard to overlook him here. Caven has a poor record in the event also so I am going with Diamond White.

Taylor vs van der Voort

Phil Taylor
• Nobody can match Taylor’s achievements at the World Grand Prix; in his 17 previous appearances in the tournament he has won the trophy 11 times. His last first round exit was in 2007 to Adrian Gray.
• He has won 2 pro tour events this season but doesn’t play as many events on the pro tour these days, in invitational tournaments he won 3 World Series events and is still a massive threat to win any tournament he plays.
• Taylor has a healthy 21-3 win record against van der Voort and hasn’t lost to his opponent since 2011. They met in the most recent World Championship and at the UK Open where Taylor won both, though he was put under a lot of pressure in their match at the World Championship.

Vincent van der Voort
• This will be his 8th appearance at the World Grand Prix. He has been beaten in the first round in 5 of his previous 7 1st round matches, most recently to van Gerwen last year.
• After a very consistent end to last year and start to this year van der Voort’s form has dipped a little. He has only reached the quarter-finals of 3 pro tour events since the end of February.

Summary
Eleven time World Grand Prix champion Phil Taylor starts his campaign to win his first PDC TV major ranking tournament since the World Matchplay in 2014. Taylor may not have won a major ranking tournament since then but he has shown he is still a major force and is a major contender in any tournament. As mentioned above van der Voort isn’t playing as consistently as he was and has only won 2 of his 7 1st round matches at the Grand Prix and will have a massive task overturning Taylor here. I expect a Taylor win.

Anderson vs Henderson

Gary Anderson
• Anderson has played in every World Grand Prix since making his debut at the event in 2009. Last year saw his best performance when he reached the semi-finals where he lost 4-3 to Wade after being 3-1 ahead.
• He hasn’t played many tournaments on the pro tour this season, and his consistency levels haven’t been as high as they were last season but it is hard to ignore someone who has won the World Championship and Premier League over the last year.
• Anderson has a 5-1 lead in their head to head meetings, with Anderson winning the last 4 they have played. They haven’t met on the PDC TV stage before.

John Henderson
• Henderson has only appeared at the tournament once before (2011) and he reached the quarter-finals on that occasion. He beat Pipe and Newton before losing to Dolan in the year Dolan reached the final.
• His best performance on tour this season was in reaching the final of the German Darts Masters in April, only losing on a deciding leg 6-5 to MVG.
• Henderson’s last win against Anderson came back in 2007 during their time in the BDO, he has yet to win against Anderson in the PDC.

Summary
Anderson has disappointed in the two major TV ranking events since he lifted the World Championship having exited the UK Open and World Matchplay too early. As mentioned above though he did win the Premier League and is without doubt one of the main contenders. Henderson had a decent run on his only previous visit to the Grand Prix and has decent experience on the big stage though has thrown in some poor performances on it too. I can’t really look past Anderson in this game but the double in start and short format doesn’t make it a formality.

Thornton vs Gurney

Robert Thornton
• Thornton has played in the World Grand Prix five times previously; his best performance was a quarter-final appearance in 2012. On the way to that quarter-final he did beat Phil Taylor 3-2 in their last 16 match.
• His best performance on tour this season is winning the European Darts Open back in July; he didn’t get past the last 32 stage in either the UK Open or World Matchplay though.
• Thornton has won both previous meetings with Gurney, both coming since 2014 and the most recent at a pro tour event in April.

Daryl Gurney
• Gurney made his debut at the World Grand Prix last year when he lost to Adrian Lewis in the first round. Gurney did take a set from Lewis and only lost on a deciding leg in the final set.
• He has reached two semi-finals on the PDC tour this season and has wins against the likes of Wade, Wright, Chisnall and Anderson during 2015.

Summary
Thornton has previous experience in winning major tournaments having won the World Masters in the BDO and the UK Open in the PDC. He undoubtedly has the potential to go far in the tournament but consistency in the majors hasn’t always been evident. Since moving over from the BDO Gurney has risen up the PDC rankings slower than I expected, but he has shown a lot more of his capabilities this year and had a decent season. Thornton is rightly the favourite for the match but if he doesn’t start hitting his favoured double top early it could be a difficult night for him. Gurney ran Adrian Lewis close last year and with the crowd behind him he will be fired up and could threaten an upset.

I hope you enjoy my offerings for day two, don’t forget to check my twitter account for any other stats I may tweet out and call back here tomorrow for more previews!

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