Why the Austrian is ready for next Major Breakthrough at this year’s Grand Prix
The Grand Prix of Darts motors into action this Sunday onwards, showcasing with its raucous atmosphere and unique format and thus fast-forwarding a Winter of Darting Delight.
We have to go back no more than 7 days since the last big tungsten tossing tourney with Gary Anderson prevailing in The Champions League Of Darts, something I predicted pre-tournament here: Champions League of Darts: Groupstage Predictions
It was another landmark win for the Flying Scotsman who is having quite the year, notching another tournament he hasn’t won before and guess what?
He hasn’t won the Grand Prix either…..the plot thickens!
It was Northern Ireland’s DARYL GURNEY who won this event last year, a win which catapulted him into the Darting elite and with the crowd well and truly behind “Superchin” he should put up a brave defence.
This year, we have the current draw as follows
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Steve Lennon
Darren Webster v Stephen Bunting
Dave Chisnall (8) v Max Hopp
Ricky Evans v Raymond van Barneveld
Daryl Gurney (5) v John Henderson
Ron Meulenkamp v Joe Cullen
Gary Anderson (4) v Jonny Clayton
Jeffrey de Zwaan v Kim Huybrechts
Peter Wright (2) v Steve West
Jermaine Wattimena v Mervyn King
Simon Whitlock (7) v James Wilson
Michael Smith v Adrian Lewis
Mensur Suljovic (6) v James Wade
Josh Payne v Ian White
Rob Cross (3) v Steve Beaton
Danny Noppert v Gerwyn Price
In case you have forgotten or are new to this event, this is a double start in, double out format, and it doesn’t take a man more intelligent than I to tell you… that hitting your doubles is an integral part of this tournament!
So with that revelation in mind, I will try and assess the value of this draw!
No better place to start with Number 1 seed MICHAEL VAN GERWEN, who finds himself in rare territory here, enjoying a barren spell of Darting Major disaster and also even rarer, finding himself odds against winning a Darts tournament at the huge ould price of 11/10!
He faces Irishman STEVE LENNON, who has proved himself no mug and hasn’t hit his full potential yet. If that’s not off-putting enough, he’s an Irishman in front of an Irish crowd!
Not the ideal 1st round tie but one would still expect the Green Machine (who might be out-greened here) to prevail!
In fact, I think he could play his Dutch rival RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD in the quarterfinals, with his nemesis being so well-supported in Ireland that it would class as another away fixture for MVG.
THE DEFENDING CHAMPION
Defending Champion, Daryl Gurney looks the next best place to start and he has a banana skin fixture against JOHN HENDERSON, the man who beat him at the Worlds this year and the man who shocked the world and MVG at the 1st hurdle last year! So we could see Gurney fall at the 1st hurdle!
Gurney beat Henderson and JOE CULLEN on his way to the title last year and he might have to do the same to even get to the quarters this year!
I fancy Cullen to make it through though as I think this format suits him and he has had a breakthrough year and could be the dangerman in the Top Half of the draw.
1ST ROUND UPSETS?
MAX HOPP might be value vs DAVE CHISNALL. This format isn’t good for Chisnall whose biggest strength is his 180 hitting and with this format, he gets less opportunity to do that and find his rhythm.
The German is still yet to show his true potential and might add another scalp to his name here.
I like the price of JEFFREY DE ZWAAN against KIM HUYBRECHTS as both are going opposite ways currently and the pace will suit De Zwaan.
SIMON WHITLOCK could be vulnerable against JAMES WILSON after hitting a bad run of form whilst the same could be said for GERWYN PRICE being flaky
against Grand Prix debutant DANNY NOPPERT.
I can’t back Van Gerwen at such short odds in a Major tournament this year, this might come too soon for GARY ANDERSON after last weeks success.
ROB CROSS looks short of confidence to me and is suffering from the year-long burden of being a 1st-time WORLD CHAMPION.
PETER WRIGHT has each-way claims every tournament but doesn’t convert enough, so I am going to suggest at the value price MENSUR SULJOVIC at 25/1.
The Austrian was unbeaten in all of his Champions League spanning over 2 years until a lacklustre display last week in the semi-finals against Gary Anderson.
But he has been improving year on year, month on month, and this format is great for him. Known for his prowess on the strange Double 14, the Gentle Giant should relish this format and this comes at a good time for him, showing what good nick his game is in last week and at 25/1 he’s too big a price to ignore in the right side of the draw and represents a value pick.