World Grand Prix – Day One Preview
Sunday evening sees the start of the World Grand Prix from the Citywest Hotel in Dublin, Ireland. The Grand Prix is a unique tournament on the PDC tour as it requires the players to start each leg with a double.
Robert Thornton comes into the tournament as the defending champion having defeated Michael van Gerwen in last year’s final; van Gerwen himself will be aiming to win the tournament for the third time having won it previously in 2012 and 2014. The Grand Prix holds very fond memories for van Gerwen as it was at this tournament where he won his first major PDC title in 2012.
Here is how the draw looks.
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Steve Beaton
Mick McGowan v James Wilson
Michael Smith (8) v Alan Norris
Joe Cullen v Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright (5) v Brendan Dolan
Dave Chisnall v Robbie Green
Phil Taylor (4) v Steve West
Mensur Suljovic v Daryl Gurney
Gary Anderson (2) v Jamie Caven
Kyle Anderson v Cristo Reyes
Robert Thornton (7) v Stephen Bunting
Ian White v Kim Huybrechts
James Wade (6) v Terry Jenkins
Gerwyn Price v Benito van de Pas
Adrian Lewis (3) v Jelle Klaasen
Mervyn King v Raymond van Barneveld
Tonight (Sunday) it’s the 8 first round matches from the bottom half of the draw that are in action. The format in the opening round is first to 2 sets.
Here are my previews for the Sunday night matches.
- Anderson is making his World Grand Prix debut but is no stranger to the big TV stage having previously appeared at the World Championships, UK Open and World Matchplay. He has also featured in various World Series of Darts tournaments.
- Earlier this year he had his best run in a PDC TV ranking tournament when he reached the quarter-finals of the UK Open before losing to Jelle Klaasen, in July at the World Matchplay he was beaten by eventual champion van Gerwen in the second round.
- Anderson has failed to win his first game only once in his last 6 appearances in major PDC TV ranking tournaments (the first match defeat was against Wade at the 2015 World Matchplay).
- He has reached two ranking semi-finals this season, the most recent at the Austrian Open in June when he defeated Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals before losing a last leg decider against eventual champion Phil Taylor.
- Reyes is also making his first appearance at the World Grand Prix; he has previously competed at the World Championships and UK Open.
- He first came to the public’s attention when he defeated Wes Newton and Kevin Painter at the 2015 World Championships and went on to join the full PDC tour following that tournament.
- His best performance in a PDC ranking tournament this season was a run to the semi-finals of a Players Championship event in July; on his way to the semis he defeated van de Pas, van der Voort and Suljovic in consecutive matches before losing to Joe Cullen.
- His place in this tournament was cemented with quarter-final appearances in the last two tournaments before the qualification cut off point for the Grand Prix.
Head to Head (Anderson 2-0 Reyes)
They have met twice previously with Kyle Anderson narrowly winning both times 6-5. Their most recent encounter was in late July at a European Tour event when Reyes missed two match darts before Anderson stepped in to hit the winning double.
Both players are new to this tournament so it’s hard to assess how they will settle in to the unique ‘double in’ format. They are both players who have been making their way up the rankings and are still improving, though Kyle Anderson is ahead of Cristo Reyes in progression and starts as the bookies favourite. I can’t disagree that Anderson is the favourite for the match; this could be as tight as their previous two meetings. I’m predicting Anderson to win 2-1.
- White is competing at the Grand Prix for the 5th successive year. His best showing came last year when he reached the quarter-finals before losing 3-2 to eventual champion Robert Thornton in a match that went to a deciding leg.
- On his way to the quarter-finals last year he defeated Gary Anderson in the Last 16, he also has a win against Raymond van Barneveld to his name on the World Grand Prix stage.
- He has yet to progress further than the quarter-finals of any PDC TV tournament.
- White’s recent TV form has not been impressive; he has lost 5 of his last 6 matches in TV tournaments and in total won only 4 of his last 14 TV matches.
- Away from the TV screens he has won 3 ranking tournaments on the PDC tour so far this season and inflicted a very rare 6-0 defeat on Michael van Gerwen in one of those finals.
- Huybrechts is also competing at the Grand Prix for the 5th successive year. His best appearance was also last year when he lost to van Gerwen in the 2nd round having defeated van de Pas in the opening round.
- Prior to last year he had failed to win a match on the Grand Prix stage and had in fact even failed to win a set in his three previous appearances.
- Huybrechts has only reached one TV ranking quarter-final since making the final of the Players Championship Finals in 2012, that’s one TV ranking quarter-final in his last 22 TV ranking tournaments.
- His best performance on the tour this season was a final appearance in the International Darts Open in early September when he missed match darts to defeat Suljovic in the final. He followed up by reaching the semi-finals on the next two European Tour events, only losing to van Gerwen in both semi-finals.
- Overall he has reached the semi-finals or better in 7 ranking events since the start of July.
Head to Head (Huybrechts 7-4 White)
Kim Huybrechts has the advantage in their previous meetings but Ian White won their last match which came in a semi-final of a tour event in early July, that win ended a run of 5 consecutive wins for Huybrechts against White. They have met 3 times in TV ranking tournaments with Huybrechts winning twice (most recent in December 2014 at the World Championships).
This is a very tough draw for both players who would be considered to be amongst the most dangerous unseeded players in the tournament. Kim Huybrechts is the narrow favourite with the bookies mainly due to his excellent recent form; he has played some superb darts in the second part of the season but did lose in the opening round in both Players Championship events over this weekend. White has won three times on the tour during 2016 but overall his recent consistency hasn’t been as good as what Huybrechts has been showing. Huybrechts has generally struggled more than White over this format and I wouldn’t be quick to side with the favourite here. I think this could go to a deciding set and realistically believe it could go either way.
- Wade is competing at the Grand Prix for the 12th year in a row and he is a two time winner of the event having lifted the trophy in 2007 and 2010. In the 2007 final he defeated Terry Jenkins. He also reached the final in 2014 but lost out to van Gerwen on that occasion after beating Robert Thornton, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson on his way to the final.
- Last year he exited the tournament in the first round to Mensur Suljovic who himself went on to reach the semi-finals. Wade won 4 of the opening 5 legs in that match but then lost 6 legs in a row.
- Five of Wade’s nine defeats at the World Grand Prix have been in the first round and all five defeats were by a 2-1 set score.
- Wade lost in his first match in both the UK Open and the World Matchplay this year; he was defeated by Suljovic at the UK Open and King at the Matchplay.
- His last tournament win in a PDC TV ranking event came back in 2011 at the UK Open.
- Jenkins is also competing at the Grand Prix for the 12th year in a row; he has twice been a runner-up in the tournament having lost to Taylor in 2006 and Wade in 2007. After reaching those two finals he also progressed to the semi-finals in 2008 and 2009 where he lost to Phil Taylor on both occasions. In the six years since 2009 he hasn’t been further than the Last 16 and in total has only won 2 of his last 8 matches on the World Grand Prix stage.
- He last reached the quarter-finals of a TV ranking tournament in November 2014 at the Players Championship Finals. He has only won 5 of his last 17 matches in PDC TV ranking tournaments.
- His best ranking tournament this season was a run to the final of a Players Championship event in August where he lost to Gary Anderson in the final.
Head to Head (Wade leads 28-14)
Wade has a very strong record in their previous head to head meetings and has won each of the last 5 times they have played (including twice in 2016). In major TV ranking tournaments they have played 7 times with Wade winning 5 of those matches.
There is no lack of World Grand Prix experience in this match up with Wade and Jenkins having played a total of 59 matches combined in the tournament. As mentioned above Wade has enjoyed a good amount of success against Jenkins and on recent form it looks as though Wade may increase that winning run, if Jenkins gets in his rhythm he can trouble Wade but I think Wade’s consistency will be enough to see off any threat.
- Price made his Grand Prix debut last year when he lost 2-1 in the opening round to 8th seed Michael Smith. Price led 2-0 in the final set only to lost 3 legs in a row and he failed to hit a starting double in the deciding leg of the match.
- His best run in a TV ranking tournament was at the World Matchplay in 2015 when he reached the quarter-finals, since then he has only managed two appearances in the Last 16 and he has lost 7 of his last 9 matches in TV ranking tournaments.
- Price has tasted success on the tour this season; he won two Players Championship tournaments during May.
van de Pas
- He is making his 2nd appearance at the World Grand Prix having lost 2-1 to Kim Huybrechts last year. In that match van de Pas won the first set against the throw to take control of the game but he went on to lose 6 legs in a row to exit the tournament.
- This will be his 12th appearance in a PDC TV ranking tournament from the last 13 played (he only missed last year’s Grand Slam). His best performance in a major TV ranking tournament was a run to the quarter-finals at last year’s Players Championship finals.
- On the PDC tour in 2016 he has won 2 ranking tournaments (he defeated van Gerwen in one of those finals), he has also reached two other ranking finals.
Head to Head (Price leads 3-1)
Gerwyn Price has the edge in their previous meetings, 3 of which have been during 2016. Both of their last 2 meetings have been at the semi-final stage in ranking tournaments and the victor went on to win the whole tournament (Price in May, van de Pas in April).
This is an interesting match between two players who have been making excellent progress up the rankings and both players have won multiple ranking tournaments during 2016. Although they have both had excellent results away from the big TV stage they still haven’t shown their best game in the big TV tournaments. I think van de Pas has the edge in ability and I make him favourite to win this match.
- Lewis is playing in the World Grand Prix for 12th time, his best appearance at the tournament came in 2010 when he reached the final (beating Phil Taylor in the semi-finals) before losing to James Wade.
- Only once has he lost in the opening round at the Grand Prix (2011 vs John Part) but he has failed to get further than the Last 16 since he reached the final in 2010. Overall Lewis has only gone further than the Last 16 on 3 occasions.
- Lewis has lost in the opening round in only 2 of his last 24 PDC TV ranking tournaments and he has reached at least the semi-finals in 4 of the last 6 PDC TV ranking tournaments.
- Perhaps surprisingly this is only Klaasen’s 3rd appearance at the World Grand Prix. Last year he reached the quarter-finals having defeated two former finalists (Dolan and Chisnall) before losing 3-2 to Mark Webster.
- He made back to back TV ranking tournament semi-finals earlier this year at the World Championship and UK Open.
- He hasn’t progressed further than the semi-final in a ranking tournament during 2016.
Head to Head (Klaasen leads 12-9)
Klaasen has won their last 4 meetings, which include 2 wins during 2016; the most significant recent encounter came in March at the UK Open when Klaasen defeated Lewis 9-7 in the Last 16 of the UK Open. Klassen also won their only other previous match in a big TV ranking tournament when he won 6-4 in the 1st round of the 2014 European Championship.
Lewis has a lot more experience of the ‘double in’ start format having featured in the Grand Prix for over a decade, although he has a good record of getting through the opening round he has struggled to put together many good runs in the tournament and has produced some patchy performances. Klaasen has a good recent record against Lewis and will be buoyed by a decent run here last year, in his previous appearance at the Grand Prix in 2013 he failed to win a leg in a first round defeat against Anderson so needed to get that out of his system. The bookies have Lewis as the favourite as might be expected but if Klaasen settles in early on his double start he could post a big threat to Lewis, I think this could go to a deciding set and see more value on Klaasen from a betting perspective.
- Robert Thornton enters the tournament as the defending champion having defeated world number one Michael van Gerwen in the final last year.
- Prior to last year his best showing at the Grand Prix was a run to the quarter-finals in 2012 when he defeated Phil Taylor before losing to Mervyn King.
- He has lost in the opening round in 4 of the last 6 PDC TV ranking tournaments since winning the World Grand Prix last year.
- His best performance in a ranking tournament during 2016 so far is one quarter-final appearance in a Players Championship tournament during September.
- This will be Stephen Buntings 3rd World Grand Prix tournament, on his debut in 2014 he progressed all the way through to the semi-finals before losing to eventual winner Michael van Gerwen.
- Last year he was beaten 2-1 in the opening round by Mark Webster who went on to reach the semi-finals.
- Since reaching the semi-finals of the UK Open in 2015 Bunting has failed to progress past the Last 16 stage of a PDC TV ranking tournament and he has been beaten at the Last 32 stage in 5 of his last 7 PDC TV ranking tournaments.
- He has a ranking tournament win to his name in 2016 having won a Players Championship event in March where he defeated MVG in the final.
Head to Head (They are level with 1 win each)
There isn’t a lot of history between the two players in terms of head to head encounters having only met twice. Bunting won their most recent match earlier this year on his way to winning the Players Championship event in March. Their only other meeting came in the semi-finals of a Players Championship tournament that Thornton won in 2014.
Two players with proven quality on the big stage, but also two players who haven’t shown enough of what they are capable of in recent TV tournaments. Thornton must enter the venue with very good memories of last year but he was playing a lot better coming into last year’s tournament and it would be a big shock if he repeated the win. Bunting has struggled for consistency despite winning on the tour this year; he is also below the levels he showed when he had his excellent run here in 2014. I feel this game is all about who gets on top early on, they are both capable of good and bad streaks. I’m just edging towards Bunting but I don’t have a real strong feeling on who I think will come out on top.
- Anderson is playing at the World Grand Prix for the 8th year in a row since making his debut in 2009. His best run at the tournament came in 2014 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to James Wade.
- He has lost in the opening round twice, those defeats came in consecutive years (2011 and 2012) when he lost to Richie Burnett and Brendan Dolan, both of those players went on to reach the semi-finals.
- Anderson has lost in the opening round in only 2 of his last 22 PDC TV ranking tournaments; although not in the opening round, he did suffer an early defeat in the Last 32 of the UK Open earlier this year when he lost to Barry Lynn.
- Jamie Caven is appearing at his 7th World Grand Prix tournament and is still looking to win his first match at the tournament having lost in the opening round 6 times, he has won a total of 3 sets during those 6 defeats.
- He has only been further than the Last 32 in a TV ranking tournament on one occasion during his last 8 TV ranking tournaments.
- His best run in a ranking tournament this season was to the final of a Players Championship tournament in May, aside from that tournament he has failed to reach another quarter-final.
Head to Head (Anderson leads 13-5)
Anderson has a commanding lead on their head to head record. This will be their first meeting since October 2014 when Anderson won 6-3 in a Players Championship tournament just prior to the World Grand Prix. Their last meeting on TV came at the 2014 Matchplay where Anderson won 10-8. Caven does have a TV win against Anderson on his record courtesy of a 6-2 win at the 2010 European Championship.
This hasn’t been a good tournament historically for Jamie Caven and he could have done without facing the world champion in the opening round this year. It will be hard for Caven not to have the fact he has lost 6 straight matches on the Grand Prix stage on his mind and should he fall behind early on it will be a big struggle to get back in the game. Anderson is a lot more reliable on the doubles than he used to be and I don’t think he will give his opponent too many chances, I don’t see an upset occurring in this one.
- Mervyn King is competing at the Grand Prix for the 10th consecutive year since making his debut in 2007. His best appearance came in 2012 when he was beaten 6-4 in the final by Michael van Gerwen having led 3-0 and 4-1.
- In July at the World Matchplay he had a good run to the quarter-finals where he lost out narrowly to Phil Taylor 16-14. In the first round he had inflicted a first ever Matchplay opening round defeat on James Wade.
- Prior to reaching the quarter-finals at the Matchplay, King had failed to get further than the Last 32 in any of his last 7 TV ranking tournaments.
- Raymond van Barneveld will be playing in his 11th World Grand Prix tournament. He reached the final in 2008 and 2009 losing out to Phil Taylor both times. He also featured in the semi-finals in 2007 and 2010 but was beaten on both occasions by eventual champion James Wade.
- Since making the semi-finals in 2010 he has failed to progress further than the Last 16, last year he was beaten 2-0 in the opening round by Adrian Lewis.
- Barney has failed to get further than the Last 32 in 8 of his last 12 appearances in PDC TV ranking tournaments, the 4 times he did make it further than the Last 32 he went on to reach the semi-finals.
Head to Head (van Barneveld leads 20-8)
Raymond van Barneveld has a big lead in their overall head to head win record but King has won 3 of the last 4 meetings with Barney only beating King once since May 2012. Their most recent meeting was earlier in September with King winning 6-5 in a Players Championship event. The last time they met on TV was at the 2014 World Grand Prix when King won 3-1 in the Last 16. This will be the 5th time they have met at the World Grand Prix with van Barneveld winning 3 of their previous 4 encounters.
Another matchup between two vastly experienced players who have been all the way to the final in this tournament, Barney has been pretty inconsistent at the Grand Prix in recent years and his defeat in the opening round last year was far from impressive, he wouldn’t be on my list of players to bank on getting through. King isn’t the force he was but as he showed at the Matchplay he still has the ability to produce on the big stage. I think there is more value to be had on King in this match.
I hope you enjoyed my previews, don’t forget to keep coming back here during the tournament as I will be previewing every match.