The World Grand Prix gets underway at the Citywest Hotel on Sunday, as defending champion Michael van Gerwen begins his bid for a fifth Dublin crown.
The double-start format notoriously produces shocks aplenty and this year promises to be no exception.
However, as the players descend on the Emerald Isle for seven days of darting drama, we spoke to Sky Sports pundits Wayne Mardle and Colin Lloyd to get their thoughts on the highlights from the first-round draw.
Live World Grand Prix Darts
October 6, 2019, 7:00pm
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Adrian Lewis vs Jermaine Wattimena
We keep saying it – it’s getting away, and it’s finishing. But it’s the only event of the whole year that ruins the rhythm of the player.
I keep looking at the Adrian Lewis-Jermaine Wattimena game. That should be a bit pacey, but I can see it being a nervy affair.
Adrian just doesn’t know what he’s doing right now. Jermaine just wants to get on with it. But with double-start, you can’t just get on with it. You’ve got to think about it.
Gerwyn Price vs Dave Chisnall
I’ve got a feeling that the winner of Price vs Chizzy – I think the winner of that game reaches the final in the bottom half.
I just think that Price and Chizzy are playing world class darts, day to day. They’re playing really well.
They’re playing with freedom, they’ve got confidence. Whoever comes through that real opening stinker, will think ‘I can do this’ and rightfully so.
Rob Cross vs Mensur Suljovic
I’ve been saying it for ages as well – Rob Cross can’t continue to play as well as he is and not win. He changed that at the Matchplay, but since then he’s given himself enough opportunities and not taken them.
He’s got to start taking them. He’s the second-best player in the world, his ranking suggests that, but because there’s only eight seeds in this, is it the worst possible draw?
That is a real bona fide [top ten player] in Mensur Suljovic, world number nine. That is the most horrendous draw that I think I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve not ruled out Rob, but as draws go, that’s an absolute stinker.
Michael van Gerwen vs Jamie Hughes
This is a tough opener for MVG. He’s never defended the Grand Prix. He’s always won it in alternate years. Jamie Hughes is a great player and he won’t be bothered by playing Michael.
He’s had some great results this year. I know a lot of the limelight has been on Glen Durrant but Jamie has played some fantastic stuff as well.
Michael has got his work cut out, but being the great champion that he is, he’ll be ready for that game.
I think Jamie is going to give Michael a battle. It’s a short format, first to just two sets so that’s anyone’s game I think.
Glen Durrant vs Krzysztof Ratajski
Glen is obviously a three-time world champion from the BDO system. He had a great run at the World Matchplay, only being stopped by Michael Smith. He’ll want to build on that but Krzysztof Ratajski has just won the European Tour event in Gibraltar so he’s playing some good stuff.
He is a very dangerous player. The only thing that worries me about Krzysztof is that he doesn’t seem to produce that type of form when it comes to televised events. That win in Gibraltar might have settled him a bit and hopefully it has settled him.
Lloyd on the pressure of double-start…
“If you’re struggling to hit your double away, believe you me that’s playing on your mind when you’re getting down to a double. If you’re in a flow and you’re throwing lovely, there’s no better feeling in the world, but if there’s a bit of negativity creeping in, you’re in trouble.”
I think this is an absolute cracker. You can’t really pick a winner but if Krzysztof doesn’t turn up, Glen is a pro when it comes to televised darts and he’ll just go up there and do the job.
That third quarter of the draw is absolutely brutal. Whoever gets through that quarter, they’re going to have to play some great stuff because otherwise they’ll be going home.
Gary Anderson vs Keegan Brown
We know Gary is a fantastic player. He’s a two-time world champion and he’s won numerous other TV events but we haven’t seen a lot of him recently. How is his form? How is his TV form?
I know he had a cracker of a game with Peter Wright a couple of weeks ago at the Players Championship in Barnsley, but we haven’t seen enough of him to give a clear judgement on how his form is.
Keegan Brown is a very very dangerous player. He doesn’t worry about who he is playing. He just goes up there and plays his own game.