THERE was a major upset on night one of the World Grand Prix opening the top half of the draw right up with Michael van Gerwen's elimination thanks to John Henderson.
The opening round of 16 begins with four matches as the third major of the year unfolds.
Order of play
- Dave Chisnall Vs Robert Thornton – Chisnall leads 14-10
- Daryl Gurney Vs Joe Cullen – Cullen leads 5-1
- John Henderson Vs Alan Norris – Norris leads 4-3
- Raymond van Barneveld Vs Steve Beaton – Barneveld leads 9-2
Short price backers will be able to back the four fold of Chisnall, Gurney, Norris and Barney at a shade under 3/1 with Hills. The underdogs will reap a tasty 88/1 with BetVictor seeing the longshot prices all storm home. Looking at the line up you cannot be overly confident all four favourites will win, although support the reasoning perhaps over one or two of the above.
With the format best of five, the competitors will have a little more time to settle in.
Chisnall v Thornton
Chisnall squares off against Thornton, where Chisnall is short at just 4/11 to make the quarter final. Thornton is BIG at 14/5 but to win this must be strong at starting off. Chisnall is a firm favourite on tops and considered double 18 as his reserve option in polishing off Klaasen in just eight legs.
Thornton had an edgy but confidence boosting win over Kim Huybrechts and the look on his face when he won could determine how relived he really was. There were classic Thornton signs during the game which the Thorn will need to shake off quickly.
Chisnall hit six maximums in eight legs against Klaasen and is a solid 4/9 with firms to outhit the Scotsman. Betfred punt just 8/13 Chisnall wins by two or more maximums, which is too short for us, but the 4/9 is good double material with another maximum bet, which enhances to 8/5 with a 6/4 minimum price acceptable, which you will find at the end of this feature.
Gurney v Cullen
Gurney and Cullen is a great pairing, where the Irishman will be heavily cheered by the Irish fans, with Cullen potentially having to be the crowd heel especially on the doubles, which could be Gurney's 12th man in football terminology. Gurney is no bigger than 4/7 for a place in the last eight, with the former postman at 13/8 lengthening from his initial 6/4 quoted price.
Cullen endured a very close encounter with fellow in-form Darren Webster, which saw a great three set game where the final two sets went the distance. In a nutshell, there will be punters looking at a Gurney 3-1 win, which is best 3/1, with a clean sweep chalked at 4/1 with Bwin, representing a 20% chance.
One bet that does appeal is for there to be no maximum in the first leg. For even money on a maximum, I would want Chisnall or MVG to be one of the two men in the game and this percentage is not on par with both players featuring. They did not achieve this in their opening game, and again with double start there is one fewer opportunity to hit a maximum in any given leg.
Henderson v Norris
The third game has John Henderson facing off versus Alan Norris. Norris probably expected to be facing Mighty Mike in the last 16, but both players will have an opportunity to make some further headway in this competition. Henderson averaged a mid to high 70 average in his victory and relied on MVG's double in misses, which went punished.
Norris will be well fancied for this and is a short 4/9 shot to beat the Highlander at 21/10. Norris did appear rusty in his opener, and a repeat performance will see Henderson take advantage of this. Henderson in any game in 2017 has not hit more than three maximums. Norris has exceeded this in six games in the same period, but has played a handful more. Both failed to hit a single maximum in their opener, but Norris once in the zone can reach consistency. My worry with the highlander is his rocking movement on the oche, which works for him, but suffers in the maximum scoring department.
I am willing to take on Norris over an extended format to get settled and beat Henderson by one or more maximums. It is 4/5 with Sunbets but doubled up with Chisnall most maximums pays 8/5 with Blacktype.
van Barneveld v Beaton
In the final match we see two veterans face off, where Barney is the second favourite for the competition. Barney plays Beaton, where the pair bar one meeting have not faced off in the best part of five years. Both players outclassed their opposition to reach this stage and Barney is installed as the 3/10 favourite with Beaton at 5/2.
Beaton is a steady player and can take advantage if Barney misses the doubles, but both players a well healed to this event, and could be a cracker.
I had taken the price at 4/5 for the game to see fewer than seven maximums, but has subsequently shortened to 8/11, which is below my minimum price acceptable so sit this one out.