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Darts - World Grand Prix: Preview

The World Grand Prix celebrates its 25th birthday this year with Jonny Clayton looking to successfully defend the title in Leicester.
 
 

Thirty two of the world's best players are gathering at the Morningside Arena in Leicester with their eyes on a record first prize of £120,000.

Five previous winners are in the field, among them defending champ Clayton, five-time winner Michael van Gerwen and world No.1 Gerwyn Price.

All will fancy their chances, but each will be acutely aware that the Grand Prix's unique 'double-in, double-out' format makes it arguably the toughest of all the PDC's majors to win.

What:PDC World Grand Prix
Where:Morningside Arena, Leicester
When:Monday 3rd - Sunday 9th October, 2022
How to watch:Sky Sports
Odds:Gerwyn Price 9/2, Michael van Gerwen 9/2, Peter Wright 7/1, Jonny Clayton 15/2, Michael Smith 12/1, Luke Humphries 12/1, Dimitri van den Bergh 14/1

Get set for early shocks

It's the unique format of the World Grand Prix which makes it such a compelling watch – and a format the big guns are always wary of, especially in round one.

The Grand Prix is the only 'double-in, double-out' event on the PDC calendar, while round one matches are over a breathless best-of-three sets.

That means any player struggling to hit his starting doubles could be out of the door in just six legs – and it's happened before.

Phil 'The Power' Taylor, the greatest arrowsmith who ever threw tungsten, won the Grand Prix 11 times, a record which will never be beaten. However, he also suffered five first-round defeats, three of them in straight sets.

There are a whole host of first-round matches on Monday and Tuesday night with shock potential; indeed, despite the prices some would barely represent shocks.

A shortlist containing the likes of Dirk van Duijvenbode to beat Clayton at 13/10, Madars Razma to beat Ryan Searle at 7/4, Martin Lukeman to beat James Wade at 7/4 and Nathan Aspinall to beat Michael Smith at 6/5, is well worth considering – and there are plenty more besides those to look out for.

Lean times for Green Machine

Five-time winner Van Gerwen clearly knows what it takes to lift this trophy, though his form suggests he might find it tough to claim a sixth crown this week.

Since claiming the Queensland Masters in early August, the Green Machine has struggled to win any matches and last weekend suffered the ignominy of a 6-4 defeat – with an 88 average – against Kim Huybrechts in his only appearance at the Belgian Open.

It's been an up-and-down year for Van Gerwen, who also took time out in the early summer to sort out a wrist problem – but of course you underestimate the 9/2 chance at your peril.

While he has been struggling, great rival Price has been coming into his own and warned a fortnight ago after claiming the World Series that he will be the dominant force in the sport in three years.

Whether he will be that in Leicester this week is up for discussion, but the 9/2 shot will be happy enough with taking on Martin Schindler in round one, though more wary of playing either Joe Cullen or Damon Heta in round two. 

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Noppert can lead charge of the bright brigade

There are a whole host of decent outsiders to consider in a tournament which has produced its share of big-priced finalists and winners down the years.

It has been a breakthrough year, for example, for 12/1 Luke Humphries, who is surely on the verge of claiming a first major title, while 20/1 poke Dave Chisnall – twice a runner-up – returned to the winner's enclosure in Belgium with a string of outstanding performances.

Probably the pick of his wins in Wieze was his 7-4 triumph over Danny Noppert in the semis, a match in which Chizzy averaged almost 104 and looked right back to his best.

Noppert himself is another one to go on any shortlist at 20/1. Remember, he is a major winner; not only that, he's a major winner in 2022 having romped to UK Open glory back in the spring.

Noppy's compatriot Van Duijvenbode – 25/1 – is a player who has gone close in this before, being beaten by Price in the final two years ago.

The big Dutchman went through something of a lean spell last year but looks back to his best now with a pair of Pro Tour titles pocketed.

He also reached the last eight of the World Matchplay and just two weeks ago was touched off by Price in the World Series final.

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