MICHAEL van Gerwen is hot favourite to retain his World Grand Prix title having made the final for the last three years running. Betfair Sportsbook chalk the green machine at 5/6, so around a 55% implied chance in the Citywest Hotel in Dublin.
The event will see seven sessions over seven days begin on Sunday as 32 participants toe the oche in the most unique event on the PDC calendar. The event must start and finish on a double, which has seen some surprise results including Phil Taylor's first round exit last year to Steve West.
Outright, with MVG at 5/6, Gary Anderson is 5/1, with Peter Wright at 8/1, Mensur Suljovic at 25/1 with the rest of the field at 33’s. On the outrights, punters may be dissuaded by seeing MVG crash out at the group stage of the Champions League of Darts two weeks ago. This came after back-to-back European Tour wins at the beginning of the month.
Gerwen missed the tour event last weekend due to a baby shower with his new born. The tricky test for MVG could be a seeded showdown with Barney in the quarter final, but other than this, MVG knows how to win here and is chasing his fourth title.
Looking at the other half of the draw, Gary Anderson, who made last year’s final can be taken at 8/11 to win his quarter and this will appeal to some as will 6/4 with Betfred for him to make the final.
Round One could be tricky for punters as this could be over in six legs and with a short race to two sets it's likely to see an upset or two in the process, which past years have demonstrated.
The opening game pits Alan Norris versus Justin Pipe, and sees Norris reigning into round two on this one. Pipe suffered an early exit at last weekend’s event and at best has only made a 3rd round appearance in 2017 on TV. Norris secured a semi-final and quarter final in TV majors in 2017 and has been backed in from 8/11 to 4/6 this week.
Kim Huybrechts, whose performances have begun to turn the tide can beat off Robert Thornton, who makes the event by virtue of Taylor’s absence. The Belgian reached the quarter final last year and will be thirsty to put in a repeat performance. Thornton’s season has been one to forget and is tumbling down the rankings.
Eyes will be on James Wade, as giant killer from 2016 Steve West has seen shrewd punters heading in at 7/4 after defeating Taylor at the same stage last year. Speaking on the lovethedarts magazine podcast with editor Alex Moss and co-host Burton DeWitt this week, Wade admitted that he had been in need of a break from darts for the last two years and had enjoyed best part of a month off.
Wade has been hot and cold, especially on the World Series. The game to go the distance is 10/11 with Bwin for three sets.
Similar pricing exists in the Smith/Price and Suljovic/White game to all go three sets and I find it difficult to argue too much with this.
With Mensur Suljovic in great form especially with a Champions League title win, he goes up against Ian White, where Christopher Kempf, a well respected Darts statistician has quoted Ian White as the best performing double in conversion. Their last encounter went to a final leg and deem that odds against for the game seeing over 2.5 sets is worthy at 11/10 with Paddy Power with a general even money with other bigger firms.
Another price to bear in mind is Cullen to hit most 180s versus Darren Webster. In the last ten each respectively, Cullen on one occasion has hit fewer than two in any match and in the same sample Webster has hit over a single maximum on just three occasions, one of which was a lengthy quarter final defeat to Wright at the Matchplay. Under double-in, the maximums will be far fewer but Cullen is a more natural hitter than Webster, whose third dart tends to fall just short in the grouping and with Cullen at evens with Coral and Ladbrokes, has a fair chance of landing on the provision this game has some legs, which the compilers are split between a two or three set game.
Lastly, two of the last five years we have not seen a 170 checkout, inclusive of 2016. With the double-in format, the tendencies of leaving the big finish does occur marginally less. The price for a 170 checkout is far too short at 1/5 with 100/30 on the outcome not to happen.
We punted on this outcome midway into the competition last year and took 7/4, which obliged! Those wanting a cheeky accumulator only should consider wins for Norris, Kim Huybrechts, Daryl Gurney and Mervyn King, which pays just under 7/1 with Skybet.
Round two commences on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Quarter Finals on Thursday and Semi-Final next Friday night, with the Final concluding on the Saturday.
- MVG to win the event outright – 5/6 Paddy Power 3pts
- NO 170 event checkout – 100/30 Betfred and BetVictor 1pt
- Norris to beat Pipe – 4/6 general – 2pts
- Cullen most 180s vs Webster – 11/10 Paddy Power 1pt
- K Huybrechts to beat Thornton – 9/5 Unibet 0.5 pts
- Suljovic/White – over 2.5 sets – 11/10 Paddy Power 1pt
- G Anderson and MVG 2-0 Correct score double – 1.96 Skybet 2pts