After the excitement of the Champions League in Brighton over the weekend, the PDC Tour stays close to home with one of the most eagerly anticipated tournaments of the year: the World Grand Prix at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel. It’s time to check out the best World Grand Prix Darts 2018 tips, predictions and odds.
It’s a unique event that serves up two unique formats: set play, which is very rarely used these days outside of the World Championships, and the ‘double in, double out’ system. As the name suggests, this requires players to land a checkout to start a leg and, as ever, to clinch it.
That’s a fascinating variable, akin to a football match played in a freakish downpour. It’s like an Olympic 100m sprint into a ferocious headwind. The basic requirements of the sport remain the same, but the dynamics change significantly.
It’s perhaps no wonder that we’ve witnessed eight different Grand Prix finalists in the past five years. There have been surprise winners in Robert Thornton (2015) and Daryl Gurney (2017) hoisting the trophy in recent times.
Indeed, there have only ever been 15 instances of a 100+ average being recorded in a Grand Prix match dating back two decades; messrs Van Gerwen and one P. Taylor responsible for 12 of them.
Fans of long-shot betting and outsiders rejoice: this is your time to come in from the cold!
Tournament History & Format
The World Grand Prix is an event that offers a perfect microcosm of the evolution of PDC darts.
The inaugural edition took place in 1998 at Rochester’s ‘Casino Rooms’. This saw Phil Taylor taking home a champion’s cheque of just £9,000. Fast forward 20 years, the tournament will be played out in front of thousands of fans in Dublin. This time the winner will trouser a cool £100k!
Of those 20 instalments of the World Grand Prix, 14 have been won by Taylor and Van Gerwen. Other winners include Wade (x2), Warriner-Little, Lloyd, Thornton and Gurney; these are the other names on the trophy.
As mentioned, this is the only time that the ‘double in’ format is dusted off; it really does seem to have the ability to act as a ‘leveller’ in terms of who gets the job done in Dublin. Despite Taylor and Van Gerwen’s dominance of the tournament, there’s still the obvious opportunity for those who simply have a good day to cause huge shocks. Taylor, despite his eleven Grand Prix titles, also suffered five first-round defeats.
Last year’s edition was also another example of the vagaries of the unusual set-up. MVG bowed out in the first round to big John Henderson. Meanwhile, Michael Smith and Adrian Lewis were also sent packing in the early stages. That trio – along with the absent Gary Anderson, who withdrew to attend the birth of his second child – meant that half of the top eight seeds didn’t even make it to the second round.
By the end, only seeded players reached the semi-finals. Gurney then took advantage of feverish ‘home’ support to win a nail-biting final 5-4 against Simon Whitlock.
All of the big guns will head to Dublin, with the top 16 on the PDC Order of Merit joined by 16 qualifiers from the Pro Tour.
Eye-catching first-round matches include MVG taking on Ireland’s own Steve Lennon. Then there’s rapid Ricky Evans will look to capitalise on recent Pro Tour success when he takes on Raymond van Barneveld. Meanwhile, Gurney and Henderson will lock horns in a repeat of last year’s semi-final.
Elsewhere, Michael Smith vs Adrian Lewis is arguably the tie of the round. Also, Mensur Suljovic vs James Wade definitely catches the eye.
The Betting Favourites
In something of a rarity these days, Michael van Gerwen can be backed at an odds-against price to win a darts tournament. Sportsbooks like Unibet are offering 6/5 on Mighty Mike landing a fourth Grand Prix title.
Champions League winner Gary Anderson is as long as 7/1 with William Hill. Meanwhile the likes of Peter Wright (8/1 with Royal Panda) and Rob Cross (9/1 with 888sport) look a tad short to us. This is invariably an event which has a habit of throwing up shocks and surprises.
After his fine performances in Brighton at the weekend, there will be plenty of money forthcoming for Mensur Suljovic, who looks value indeed at 22/1 with Bet365, while defending champion Gurney is a huge 40/1 with Ladbrokes.
As alluded to in some detail, this is an event where punters can take on the big names with gusto.
Michael van Gerwen has a great record in this event – where doesn’t he? – but when you consider that the likes of Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright have appeared in just two finals between them you sense that small wagers on some exciting outsiders is the way to go.
So, let’s back those who have a favourite double that gets them out of trouble time after time: think Suljovic on D14 and Gurney on D16.
If he was playing better, Rob Cross’ prowess on D18 would also make him an obvious play, while occasional double-trouble for Anderson and Wright rules them out of our enquiries. In this format, MVG simply does not appeal at the price.
So we’re happy to stick with Suljovic – who was the best player at the Champions League up until the semi-finals, and Gurney, whose home-field advantage must not be underestimated. The Dublin faithful have not one but two opportunities to boo his opponents per leg as they attempt to hit the outer ring!
Best Bets for World Grand Prix Darts 2018: