The darts season is in full swing or to use darts newest favourite phrase – “it has momentum”! Next stop is Dublin for the World Grand Prix. The event kicks off on Monday 8 October. We covered last year’s event in our blog under the title of “The Joy of Sets”.
This was referring to the format of the tournament of course where the more usual leg by leg format is replaced by a best of 5 legs set. We much prefer this formula for finding a winner and we explained why last year.
There is another aspect of this tournament that is out of the norm; the two players that have the highest ranking in the main Order of Merit and who are from Ireland and Northern Ireland get a place alongside the 16 best from the main PDC Order of Merit and the top 14 from the Pro Tour Order of Merit. Last year we urged the qualifiers Brendan Dolan and William O’Conner to prove they were worth a place on merit at the tournament and not just because of where they were born. Dolan hit a 9 darter and got to the final, we really shouldn’t have worried!
This year Brendan Dolan has actually qualified via the Order of Merit and William O’Conner is back again. This means there is space for Michael Mansell too! Other than this, the usual suspects are all on parade and Gary Anderson is back after completing his ban.
The “unique selling point” of the Grand Prix is of course the double start! This provides all the pressure, drama and epic fails you could ever wish for during a darts match. It does appear that the majority of the players do not have any coherent strategy as to what they should do in the event that they miss their chuck at their “favourite double”. Twist or stick takes on a darting meaning as they decide whether to relentlessly pursue the double they prefer or switch to another one.
We did try to offer some advice on this but fortunately it was ignored and the usual double trouble mayhem ensued last year! Some players do of course seem to have a plan, deliberately switching after a pre-determined number of misses have taken place or other such plans. More often than not we get a white wash too. This is where one player lets the pressure of missing effect him so dramatically that his opponent has checked out before he has hit a double to start.
We had to wait for the final mind before the first one last year; Taylor checked out in 12 darts leaving Dolan stranded on 501 after 9 missed doubles. We are running a competition for one of our practice boards by the way. All you have to do is predict how many white washes there will be this year and if you are right you will be in the draw for a practice board. Check out our Double Trouble facebook page to enter!
On the betting side of things Taylor is favourite of course but at a best priced 2/1 at Ladbrokes. Some may argue the odds are a bit skinny bearing in mind "The Power" seemed out of sorts at the recent Euro Championships. Taylor had been over to Australia and did look tired so maybe he has had sufficient time to recover now.
Whitlock, fresh from his triumph in Germany not only has beautiful hair (according to the German fans song-they are right too, it is beautiful) looks good value at 14/1. He is reliable on the doubles (generally speaking) and remains calm under pressure, both ideal traits for this format.His confidence will be high too after his victory.
Confidence may not be so high for the other usual favourites. Taylor we have mentioned but Lewis and Wade didn't play to their usual standard in Germany and both were involved in "shock" defeats. I do have it from a reliable source that a lot of the players taking part in the Euro Championships felt rusty after the long summer break so maybe a watching brief of "Jackpot" and "The Machine" is the way forward.
The Sky commentary team will be getting 16-1 for their usual tip that this is Barney’s tournament! Brendan Dolan is at a tempting 125/1 with BetFred! Let’s all put a pound on each way and if Brendan could go a step further this year we can get our revenge for all those annoying adverts Fred stars in!
One argument I guess for the odds on Brendan Dolan being so high is that he faces Gary Anderson in the first round. This is going to be interesting! First of all, which Anderson is going to show up on the opening night? He has missed the past few tournaments so it is difficult to say. Secondly the whole of the crowd are going to be behind Dolan and although the place doesn’t seem to get packed on the first few nights, Dolan will have that advantage. Thirdly, Anderson and doubles, hmm, enough said there. So Dolan at 7/4 with Ladbrokes looks like a bit of value too!
I quite like the look of Ian White at 17/10. Barney still flatters to deceive. Just as you think Barney really is back and his silky technique looks at its best he capitulates and loses! White fears no one at the moment and if a fragile Raymond starts missing a few doubles then White can take advantage.
Whatever happens, it is going to be sets, sets and more sets of sporting drama! We can’t wait!