World Grand Prix – Day Three Preview

It’s the start of the Last 16 at the World Grand Prix tonight as the format of the tournament extends to the first to 3 sets giving players a bit longer to settle into the matches.

Amongst the players in action this evening we have the World Number One and reigning champion Michael van Gerwen, 3 former World Champions along with a former losing finalist at the Grand Prix.

Last night we saw some great action, along with two of the tournament favourites Phil Taylor and James Wade exiting despite both playing to a high standard. Mensur Suljovic and Vincent van der Voort both showed no lack of skill and bottle to upset the seeds.

Will the upsetting continue tonight?

Here are my stats and analysis previews to guide you along.

Smith vs Lewis

Both of these players came through last leg deciders in their opening matches with Michael Smith recovering from losing the first set against Gerwyn Price and winning the final set from 2 legs to 0 down. Lewis won against William O’Connor in a very tense final leg where both players missed match darts before Lewis managed to seal victory.

Comparing their performances from the first round Jamie Lewis was more efficient in starting the legs, only twice did he take more than one set of darts to get a starting double, Smith had four occasions where he didn’t get away within the first three darts.
Finishing off the legs was Smith’s strength in the opening round with 7 hits from 11 attempts; those were the best numbers from anyone on the opening night. Lewis on the other hand missed too many doubles; although he wasn’t punished in the legs he missed he does need to tighten up in that department.

Verdict
This is an intriguing match between two young players trying to make a big impact in a major TV ranking tournament; both will see it as a good opportunity to progress, all in all there is a lot at stake. This is not to mention they have played against each other in youth tournaments so know each other’s games very well. There is no big advantage in the head to head record for either player. The bookies have Smith as a fair sized favourite but for me there are too many question marks over his ability to relax and play his best game in the major tournaments. Lewis may relish being the underdog in this match and probably has less pressure on him. Despite missing some doubles against O’Connor he did handle the atmosphere quite well especially the fans booing as he was throwing for doubles. I can’t decide which way the game will go though I do make Smith a smaller favourite I think Lewis with a +1.5 set start on the handicap looks decent value in this one.

Chisnall vs Klaasen

Chisnall won a decent quality match against Peter Wright in the first round. In 10 of the 14 legs played he got the starting double with his first dart and only once did he fail to get away with his first three thrown. Chisnall’s overall scoring was good but his finishing doubles were a weakness with only 8 hit from 29 attempts.

Klaasen recovered from a set down to get past Brendan Dolan in his first match. This was a very tricky game for Klaasen being last on and playing a methodical opponent, especially as it was only Klaasen’s second match at the Grand Prix and he struggled badly on his debut. The darts certainly weren’t always pretty but that was a game Klaasen may have lost in the past.

Verdict
This match will be played at a good pace which should suit both players, Chisnall was the more impressive of the two players from their opening round showings, and he also has a pedigree in the event having reached the final two years ago. The head to head record shows both winning 2 matches each and they have a 1-1 record during 2015. Although both players can be guilty of missing clumps of doubles I think Chisnall’s scoring and also his starting doubles will be too much for Jelle. I have a small liking for Chisnall over 4.5 180’s but in these double in matches in the early rounds betting on 180’s can be tricky.

van Gerwen vs Huybrechts

If you take away the middle third of van Gerwen’s opening match then you would say he was impressive against Keegan Brown, he started the match well and finished it well but in the 2nd set he went to sleep and can’t afford to throw in sets like that. Still overall he had over 50% on his finishing doubles and hit 5 180’s which are both good
sets of figures.

After failing to win a set in his 3 previous matches at the World Grand Prix the opening night was all about just getting through no matter what for Huybrechts. He went a set down and 1-0 down in the second set against Benito van de Pas but he recovered well and showed some bottle and some nervy moments to get the win but the quality wasn’t always great.

Verdict
Plenty of history between the two players which should make for a feisty occasion, their head to head record is 10 wins to 8 in favour of van Gerwen. Huybrechts has experience of having beaten van Gerwen on the big TV stage at the Grand Slam last year, though MVG won their match in the Premier League and also at the UK Open earlier this year comfortably with a 9-2 scoreline. Huybrechts did win their most recent meeting in July at a European Tour event.
No surprise to see van Gerwen as a big favourite with the bookies as he is the number one and best player in the world. In Huybrechts favour he can reel off legs of inspired darts, and has shown he can compete with anyone, though I always believe if van Gerwen turns up playing his best game he wins simple as, so it all comes down to how well he plays in my opinion and I do expect van Gerwen to come through this match. My betting preference is for a checkout of over 126.5 in the match.

Lewis vs Webster

Lewis wasn’t pushed very hard in the first round as he easily brushed aside a lacklustre van Barneveld, only dropping one leg in the process. To be fair to Lewis he did what he had to do to win the game. On his starting doubles Lewis only hit his double with the first dart two times during the match but only failed to get away with his first three darts once.

Webster came through a tough opening round match against Bunting where he was good at getting away on the starting doubles, apart from the opening leg where he took 5 darts. The last 6 legs of the match saw Webster hit the starting double with his first dart and he showed good composure with his finishing in the final set hitting 3 from 3.

Verdict
The head to head record is very much in favour of Lewis. He leads 12-5 and has won their last 6 meetings, with Webster not having beaten him since 2011. The matches they have played since then have generally been comfortable for Lewis also, only dropping 12 legs in those 6 games and winning 44. It’s good to see Webster back on the TV screens as I believe when his confidence is up and he is playing on the top of his game he is a great player to watch. I just don’t think he has the game at the moment to overturn Lewis in this match. I think Lewis will win 3-1 or 3-0.

Enjoy the darts and call back tomorrow!

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