World Grand Prix – Day Two Preview
It’s day two at the World Grand Prix, with the remaining 8 matches of the first round taking place.
Here are my previews for all 8 matches.
- Chisnall made his World Grand Prix debut in 2011 and has competed at the tournament every year since then. He reached the final in 2013, defeating defending champion van Gerwen on his way. In the final he was soundly beaten 6-0 by Phil Taylor.
- He has failed to get past the Last 16 in all the rest of his appearances at the Grand Prix, having twice lost in the opening round also. Last year he came through a tough opening round match against 4th seed Peter Wright before losing to Klaasen.
- All 5 of Chisnall’s first round matches at the World Grand Prix have gone the full 3 sets with Chisnall winning 3 and losing 2 of them.
- It has been almost 2 years since Chisnall exited a PDC TV ranking tournament to a player currently ranked outside the top 16, the last time being against van de Pas in December 2014 at the World Championship.
- Chisnall has failed to get to the Last 16 in only 1 of his last 8 TV ranking tournaments, the only time being at the UK Open in March when he lost to Gary Anderson in the Last 64.
- This will be Robbie Green’s first appearance at the World Grand Prix; he is obviously no stranger to the big stage though and is a former BDO World Championship semi-finalist as well as a finalist at the World Masters.
- In July at the World Matchplay he lost out to Phil Taylor in round one but did give a good account of himself in a 10-8 defeat.
- Green has made a couple of semi-finals on the PDC circuit this season; both were during the same weekend back in April.
Head to Head (They are level with 1 win each)
Although Chisnall and Green will have come up against each other regularly in local tournaments they have only met twice on the PDC circuit and have one win each to their name. Green won 6-5 in their most recent meeting which came in April of this year in the Last 64 of a Players Championship tournament where Green went on to reach the semi-final. Their other encounter came at the Grand Slam of Darts in 2014 when Green was still a BDO player, Chisnall won that match comfortably 10-3 in the Last 16.
Chisnall has more experience of the format and that could be a key factor in this match, they are two players who once in their rhythm on the treble 20 are prolific 180 hitters, this format however can make it hard to settle into a rhythm and it remains to be seen how quickly Green will adapt. Green has been playing some good darts on the tour this year and this has the potential to be a tough match for Chisnall but I think Chisnall will come through and take his place in the Last 16.
- McGowan is making his 4th appearance at the World Grand Prix but this is his first time at the tournament since 2010.
- He has lost in the opening round in each of the 3 years he has played at the tournament and has indeed failed to win a set in each of those 3 defeats. His defeats came against Terry Jenkins (2008), Jacko Barry (2009) and James Wade (2010).
- McGowan returned to the PDC circuit after a long absence this year and won his tour card at Q School. Prior to the last World Championships he last competed in a PDC TV tournament in 2011.
- He secured his place at the Grand Prix with a run to the semi-finals of a Players Championship in September, which was his first semi-final on the PDC circuit since 2008.
- Wilson is making his World Grand Prix debut; this is the third PDC TV tournament he has played in since moving from the BDO in January 2015, the other two were both UK Opens (2015 and 2016).
- He has progressed far in TV tournaments before, during his BDO days, winning the World Trophy in 2014 and reaching the final of the World Masters in 2013.
- Wilson reached his first PDC ranking final during September at a Players Championship tournament where he was only stopped by van Gerwen. That run to the final came not long after he reached 3 consecutive semi-finals in August/September.
Head to Head (No previous meetings)
This is the first encounter between Mick McGowan and James Wilson.
Mick McGowan will have the home support in this match which might inspire him and he has previous experience in the tournament (though not necessarily good memories) but he is coming up against a player who has been in very good form and is starting to show his true potential, a former BDO number one Wilson has undoubted quality and now he is winning matches regularly on the PDC tour his confidence is rising. I’m going for a Wilson win in this match.
- Suljovic is making his 2nd appearance at the World Grand Prix having made it all the way through to the semi-finals on his debut last year. On his way to the last four he defeated Wade, Whitlock and van der Voort before losing to eventual champion Robert Thornton.
- He has lost in the opening round in only 1 of his last 8 PDC TV ranking tournament appearances and that defeat came in a last leg decider against Dave Chisnall at last year’s European Championship.
- Suljovic won his first PDC ranking tournament in early September when he defeated Kim Huybrechts 6-5 in the final of the International Darts Open, since then he has made a further 2 ranking finals, losing to van Gerwen in both finals.
- Gurney is back at the World Grand Prix for the 3rd consecutive year. He has yet to win a match in the tournament but has faced two tough opening round matches losing to Adrian Lewis in 2014 and eventual champion Robert Thornton last year.
- He lost his opening match at both the UK Open and World Matchplay earlier this year, at the UK Open it was a last leg decider against Michael Smith that ended his tournament and at the Matchplay he was well below par in a 10-2 defeat against Ian White.
- Gurney reached his first PDC ranking tournament earlier this year at the Dutch Darts Masters, he was beaten in the final by world number one Michael van Gerwen.
- He has played a limited amount of darts recently having suffered a hand injury in early September, he returned to competitive action on Friday and made the semi-final of the Players Championship tournament on Saturday.
Head to Head (They are level with 1 win each)
Suljovic and Gurney have met twice previously with both matches being played in 2016. Gurney won their first encounter in the semi-final of the Dutch Darts Masters in February; Suljovic got his revenge in the Last 16 of the European Darts Open at the end of July.
Mensur Suljovic is amongst the most consistent players on the circuit right now; he is regularly reaching the latter stages of tournaments and has the boost of having won his first PDC title recently. Suljovic has proven he is comfortable with this format having reached the semi-finals last year and he will be a match for anyone in the tournament. Gurney could have hoped for much easier draws, he might have been a little rusty in terms of competitive darts having not been able to play over the past month but having made the semi-finals of a tournament on Saturday I don’t think that will be a problem. It’s all set up for an intriguing first round match, I think Suljovic will prove to be just too consistent for Gurney and expect him to be in the Last 16.
- This will be Smith’s 4th time at the World Grand Prix, having exited in the opening round on his first 2 appearances he won his first match last year when he defeated Gerwyn Price 2-1, he came unstuck in the Last 16 though when he surrendered a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 loss to Jamie Lewis.
- Smith hasn’t failed to win his opening game in a PDC TV ranking tournament since losing in the first round of the 2015 World Matchplay.
- Only 2 of Smith’s last 13 defeats in PDC TV ranking tournaments have been against players currently ranked in the top 8.
- Norris will be making his World Grand Prix debut in this match; he has featured in a number of other PDC TV ranking tournaments since making the switch from the BDO in January 2015 having played in the World Championship, World Matchplay, UK Open, European Championship and Players Championship Finals.
- His best run in a PDC TV ranking tournament was at the World Championship where he reached the quarter-finals before losing 5-4 to Jelle Klaasen.
- He reached the final of a PDC ranking tournament back in February but has only featured in two quarter-finals since mid-April.
Head to Head (Norris leads 4-0)
They have met 4 times since Norris switched to the PDC and it is Norris who has come out on top on each occasion. The first two matches they played went to a last leg decider. Their one and only meeting in 2016 was back in April when Norris won 6-3 in a Players Championship event.
This should be played at a rapid pace between two players who just like to get on with the game. They are both streaky players who can rattle off some legs with ease but then have spells where they struggle. It is interesting to note that Norris has won all four of their previous meetings and this could be a factor. I don’t see a big favourite and find it hard to pick a winner; I am just edging towards Norris on the basis of their head to head record.
- This will be Joe Cullen’s World Grand Prix debut; he has previously featured at the World Championship, World Matchplay and UK Open.
- His best run at a PDC major TV tournament came earlier this year at the UK Open when he reached the quarter-final, a run which included wins against Alan Norris and Stephen Bunting.
- Cullen has reached the final of 2 ranking tournaments this season, both were Players Championship tournaments (one in May and one in July), he also reached a further 3 semi-finals and has moved into the top 32 in the PDC rankings.
- This is Whitlock’s 7th time at the World Grand Prix with his best appearance being a run to the quarter-finals in 2013 when he was beaten by James Wade.
- He has won 4 and lost 2 of his first round matches at the Grand Prix, the 2 defeats were against Justin Pipe (2012) and Richie Burnett (2014).
- Whitlock has made it through to the quarter-finals in just 1 of his last 12 PDC TV ranking tournaments. In his previous 12 he had appeared in 8 quarter-finals and reached 5 semi-finals from the 8 quarter-finals.
- On Saturday he won his first PDC ranking title since 2014 on his way to the title he took the prize scalp of Michael van Gerwen.
Head to Head (Whitlock leads 3-1)
They have only met twice since 2012 and Whitlock has won both of those matches, including a win in their only encounter during 2016. Cullen’s sole win was at the Austrian Darts Open back in 2012.
Whitlock has the advantage with World Grand Prix tournament experience and on their head to head record; Cullen has played consistent darts throughout 2016 and is in the best form of his career. Whitlock had shown glimpses of his form coming back and will have sky high confidence after winning a tournament on Saturday. Whitlock hasn’t always looked comfortable on the double start format and sometimes switches around the board too frequently. I just have a preference for Whitlock but Cullen certainly has a chance in this game.
- Taylor has been an ever present at the World Grand Prix ever since it started in 1998 and he has lifted the trophy a record 11 times. His most recent Grand Prix victory was in 2013, last year he lost 2-0 in the first round to van der Voort.
- Last year was the 4th time he has failed to get past round one and it was the first time since 2007 when he lost to Adrian Gray.
- Taylor is aiming to win his first PDC TV ranking tournament since the Matchplay in July 2014 (a total of 13 TV ranking tournaments without a tournament win).
- He has tasted success in non-ranked TV tournaments recently, having beaten van Gerwen in the final of the Sydney Masters in August and last weekend at the Champions League of Darts.
- Steve West is making his World Grand Prix debut; he has featured at the Grand Slam of Darts and the UK Open previously. In his BDO days he played in the World Championship 5 times and was a 2 time quarter-finalist at the World Masters.
- West comes into the tournament in good form having reached his first PDC ranking final in September (only losing a last leg decider to van Gerwen in that final).
- He backed this up with a run to the semi-finals in Saturday’s Players Championship tournament when he lost to eventual winner Simon Whitlock.
Head to Head (Taylor leads 4-0)
Taylor has a 100% record in their 4 meetings; all 4 matches have been played since last October with Taylor winning 3 of the games by a 6-1 score. Taylor has also gone on to win 2 tournaments after defeating West along the way, the most recent being at the Austrian Darts Open in June of this year.
Phil Taylor looked in formidable form at last week’s Champions League of Darts sending a message out to the darting world that he is far from finished in terms of winning big titles and if he brings that form into this tournament he will take some stopping. It is an excellent achievement for West to have reached the Grand Prix, he has been playing some good darts during 2016 and reaching the latter stages of recent ranking tournaments stands him in good stead. I think that West’s strength is his scoring and I’m not sure how he will adapt to the double start format; it is essential he gets off the mark straight away and doesn’t struggle in the opening couple of legs. I’m expecting Taylor to be focused and don’t think he will be taken out in round one for the 2nd consecutive year.
- Michael van Gerwen is competing at the Grand Prix for the 6th He has won the tournament twice (2012 and 2013) and was runner-up last year when he lost 6-5 to Thornton in the final.
- His 2012 success at the Grand Prix was his first major PDC title and it was only his 2nd year of competing at the Grand Slam having lost in the first round on his debut in 2009.
- Since losing in the final here last year he has won 5 out of 6 PDC TV ranking tournaments.
- Since the start of the 2015 season he has won 45 out of 47 matches in PDC TV ranking tournaments.
- Prior to losing to Simon Whitlock in the Last 16 of the Players Championship tournament on Saturday he had won each of the last 8 ranking tournaments in which he had competed.
- Beaton made his Grand Prix debut back in 2001 and this will be his 13th year at the tournament. His best showing was a semi-final appearance in 2004 which he followed with a quarter-final appearance a year later.
- Since reaching the quarter-finals in 2005 he hasn’t gone further than the Last 16 and has won just 3 of his last 10 matches on the Grand Prix stage. In each of the last 3 years he has lost in round one.
- Beaton reached the quarter-finals at the World Matchplay in July, that was his best run in a PDC TV ranking tournament since reaching the final of the European Championship in 2009 and only the 2nd time he had reached the Last 16 of a TV ranking tournament since 2013.
- He has produced some good performances on the tour this season and has reached 2 finals during the course of 2016.
Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 15-3)
MVG has dominated their previous meetings having won each of the last 9 times they have played; Beaton’s last success against MVG came in 2012. The last time they met in a major ranking tournament was at last year’s Grand Slam when van Gerwen triumphed 10-2.
Michael van Gerwen has been in awesome form during the 2016 winning numerous tournaments and is the firm favourite with the bookies to win the Grand Prix. Beaton has played some good darts during this season and if he brings the game he played at the World Matchplay he could pose some problems for van Gerwen. I wouldn’t rule out Beaton taking a set but van Gerwen’s dominant head to head record suggests he won’t be tumbling out in round one.
- This is Wright’s 5th participation at the World Grand Prix; his best performance was a Last 16 appearance in 2014 when he lost to Stephen Bunting.
- Overall he has won just 1 of his 5 matches played at the World Grand Prix, in fairness to Wright he has been give some tough first round draws losing to Phil Taylor, Wes Newton (when Newton was seeded 8th) and last year Dave Chisnall. His solitary win came against Jamie Caven.
- His defeat in the opening round at last year’s Grand Prix is the only time he has been beaten in the first round in his last 13 TV ranking tournaments.
- He has reached 6 ranking tournament finals during 2016 but has only gone on to win 1 of those finals.
- Dolan made his Grand Prix debut all the way back in 2004 and this will be his 10th appearance having been an ever present since 2008.
- He famously was the first man ever to hit a 9 dart finish in the tournament, in 2011 when he progressed all the way through to the final before losing to Phil Taylor. Dolan also reached the semi-finals a year later.
- He has lost in the opening round in 6 of his 9 appearances including each of the last 3 years. The draw hasn’t been kind to Dolan though as in the last 3 years he has lost to Adrian Lewis, Gary Anderson and Jelle Klaasen. He also suffered 2 first round defeats to Phil Taylor.
- Dolan reached the Last 16 at the Matchplay earlier this year but overall he has won just 3 of his last 12 matches in TV ranking tournaments.
- Aside from his Last 16 showing at the Matchplay he hasn’t featured in the Last 16 of any ranking event since October last year.
Head to Head (Wright leads 9-4)
Up to a couple of years ago there wasn’t a lot between them on their head to head record, but Wright has won each of their last 4 meetings with Dolan only winning 6 legs compared to 27 in those 4 matches.
This is a rare TV major tournament in which Wright has failed to make a good run in, as mentioned above he hasn’t had favourable draws but he also hasn’t played his best darts at this tournament. Dolan had a couple of very good years at the World Grand Prix and despite having lost early on in recent years he must still have good feelings when he enters the venue, Dolan played well at the Matchplay but his form on tour just hasn’t been at the level it was a couple of years ago and it is a big ask for him to beat Wright in this match. I predict Wright will be going through to the Last 16.