THE World Grand Prix kicks off at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel on Monday night, as 32 stars of the sport – including ten-time winner Phil Taylor and reigning champion Michael van Gerwen – compete in the double-start event.
The £350,000 event, unique for the format which sees players need to both begin and end each leg by hitting a double, will be held across seven days in Dublin, live on Sky Sports HD.
The first round will be split across Monday and Tuesdayevenings, with ten-time World Grand Prix champion Phil Taylor headlining the opening night as he faces resurgent Jamie Caven, who has won two ranking titles this year.
“I’d love to win the World Grand Prix again,” said Taylor, who was knocked out in the second round by Robert Thornton 12 months ago. “It’s one of my favourite tournaments – I love the World Grand Prix.
“It’s a great format, as long as you’re playing well. If you start missing and don’t kick in with your doubles [in the first three darts] then trust me, it’s one of the loneliest places in the world.”
Taylor has previously lost three times in the short best-of-three set first round in the double-start event, and is expecting a tough test against Caven.
“When you look at the draw now, every game’s juicy,” he said. “You’ve got all the top players playing each other in the first round, where this wouldn’t have happened years ago.
“You’d get through a couple of stages before meeting top players. Now it’s straight in, and my first round’s like a final to me, that’s how important it is – Jamie’s a good player, he’s gutsy and he’s no mug.”
Two-time World Grand Prix champion James Wade is also in action on Monday night, when he takes on Steve Beaton, a former semi-finalist in the event who ended four years without a ranking event victory recently in Germany.
2004 World Grand Prix winner Colin Lloyd kicks off the tournament against Ronnie Baxter, world number four Simon Whitlock meets Northern Ireland’s Michael Mansell and number eight seed Wes Newton plays Peter Wright, the colourful Scot who reached Sunday’s Players Championship final in Dublin.
Irish ace Connie Finnan takes on two-time finalist Terry Jenkins, and Thornton plays Paul Nicholson in the opening night’s other fixture.
Tuesday’s remaining eight games from the first round will be headlined by reigning champion van Gerwen’s meeting with Canadian legend John Part, a three-time World Champion and twice a finalist in this event.
Van Gerwen’s triumph in last year’s World Grand Prix final, when he came from 4-2 down to win 6-4 in sets against Mervyn King, proved the springboard for an amazing 12 months which has included his Premier League Darts triumph, ten other wins and runs to the World Championship and Grand Slam of Darts finals.
“It’s been a fantastic year for me and it’s a great feeling coming back to Dublin as the reigning champion,” said van Gerwen. “I’ve prepared well and I’m very confident but I know I’ll have a tough game against John because he’s a fantastic player.
“It’s probably the hardest tournament to win because of the double-start, but I enjoy it and I’m really looking forward to the week.”
King plays Wayne Jones in Tuesday’s opening fixture, while 2011 World Grand Prix runner-up Brendan Dolan – who hit the historic first double-start nine-darter two years ago – plays another former finalist, Adrian Lewis.
The pair had met in Saturday’s Players Championship at the Citywest Hotel, when Lewis came from 3-0 down to claim a 6-4 victory in what he hopes will be a precursor to Tuesday’s clash.
“I wanted to make a set a marker out ahead of Tuesday and put it into Brendan’s head, so it was great to pick up the win,” said Lewis. “I finished really well on Saturday and it’s done my confidence the world of good going into the World Grand Prix.”
Dutch star Raymond van Barneveld, another two-time World Grand Prix finalist, also goes into the double-start event on a high after winning Sunday’s Players Championship.
The world number nine had been a first round loser in August’s Sydney Darts Masters and also struggled during September, but returned to top form over the ProTour weekend in Dublin.
“I love this game and I love winning – sometimes I love this game too much,” he added. “I want to show the world that I can still play and I want to play against Phil Taylor, James Wade, Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis at my best game.
“Sometimes players like me, James Wade and Adrian Lewis need the pressure to play our best darts. Adrian won on Saturday and I won today, and for some reason it gives us better focus.
“I had a bad September and struggled for the month, but I’ve started well in October and hopefully I’m going to do well for the rest of this year.”
Number six seed Andy Hamilton meets Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts, Justin Pipe plays Andy Smith, Kevin Painter meets Richie Burnett and Dave Chisnall plays Ian White.
The second round of the £350,000 event will be split acrossWednesday and Thursday at the Citywest Hotel, with the quarter-finals being held on Friday, the semi-finals on Saturday and the final on Sunday.
partypoker.com World Grand Prix
Schedule of Play
Monday October 7 (7pm)
Ronnie Baxter v Colin Lloyd
Wes Newton v Peter Wright
Paul Nicholson v Robert Thornton
Simon Whitlock v Michael Mansell
James Wade v Steve Beaton
Phil Taylor v Jamie Caven
Gary Anderson v Jelle Klaasen
Connie Finnan v Terry Jenkins
Tuesday October 8 (7pm)
Wayne Jones v Mervyn King
Justin Pipe v Andy Smith
Kevin Painter v Richie Burnett
Dave Chisnall v Ian White
Andy Hamilton v Kim Huybrechts
Stuart Kellett v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v John Part
Adrian Lewis v Brendan Dolan
Wednesday October 9 (7pm)
Wade/Beaton v Finnan/Jenkins
Newton/Wright v Anderson/Klaasen
Taylor/Caven v Nicholson/Thornton
Whitlock/Mansell v Baxter/Lloyd
Thursday October 10 (7pm)
Lewis/Dolan v Pipe/Smith
Chisnall/White v Jones/King
van Gerwen/Part v Kellett/van Barneveld
Hamilton/Huybrechts v Painter/Burnett
Friday October 11 (7pm)
Saturday October 12 (7pm)
Sunday October 13 (7pm)
Preceded at 6pm by Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay Final
Connie Finnan v Colin McGarry
Winner – £100,000
Runner-Up – £40,000
Semi-Finalists – £20,000
Quarter-Finalists – £12,500
Second Round Losers – £7,000
First Round Losers – £4,000
Total Prize Money – £350,000
In addition, should a player hit a nine-dart finish, they would receive a £10,000 bonus. If more than one player achieves this feat, the bonus would be shared equally on a pro-rata basis.
First Round – Best of Three Sets
Second Round – Best of Five Sets
Quarter-Finals – Best of Five Sets
Semi-Finals – Best of Nine Sets
Final – Best of 11 Sets
All sets are the best of five legs. There will be no tie-break in any set.
All legs are double-start and double-finish, meaning a player must first hit a double before he can begin scoring in each leg.
Phil “The Power” Taylor 2/1 to win 11th World GP Title
Cash back if Michael van Gerwen wins the World Grand Prix
The World Grand Prix Darts starts in Dublin on Monday night with Phil Taylor bidding to land an 11th World Grand Prix title. Taylor is currently 2/1 to win the tournament with Boylesports and is red hot favourite at 2/9 to win his opening match against Jamie Caven (10/3) on Monday night.
Current champion, Michael Van Gerwen, is 1/5 to record an opening round victory over John Part (7/2) on Tuesday night whilst the Dutch man is on offer at 4/1 to retain the World Grand Prix Title.
Ireland’s largest independent bookmaker is offering cash back on all losing single bets on the Outright Betting market if Michael van Gerwen wins the World Grand Prix.
Boylesports has also enhanced some trebles for Monday and Tuesday night with Taylor, Anderson & Jenkins all to win on Monday night priced at 15/8 whilst Boylesports go 2/1 that Van Gerwen, Pipe & Painter all win their respective matches on Tuesday night.
Leon Blanche, Head of Communications at Boylesports said “Phil Taylor will be bidding to land an 11th World Grand prix title in Dublin and we have seen plenty of support for him already. He’s now 2/1 to go all the way having been installed at 5/2.”
He added “Currently a nine dart finish in the tournament is on offer at 4/1 whilst a Dutch player to win the tournament is on offer at 11/4.”