They are queuing up to dethrone the world number one, Michael van Gerwen, as the PDC’s unique ‘double-in’ major moves back to England.
Van Gerwen heads an all-star field at the World Grand Prix where the Dutchman, the
33/10 favourite, will be bidding to become just the second player to claim a hat-trick of titles.
The great Phil Taylor did it at the turn of the century, winning the first three runnings of this unique major and The Power went on to lift the trophy 11 times.
Van Gerwen is a five-time champion, beating Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall in the last two finals, though he knows better than anyone that there is a world-class field lying in wait for any slip-ups – and The Green Machine has had his share of slip-ups in 2020.
The seven-day festival of darts takes place in an empty auditorium at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, the first time since 2001 the event hasn’t been staged at the CityWest in Dublin.
Clemens the Call for Double Delight
The Grand Prix is renowned for its shocks and surprises and that’s down to the unique double-in, double-out format plus the fact that first-round matches are over a breathless best-of-three sets. A player, therefore, can be blitzed in just six legs if he’s having a bad night on his doubles.
Taylor, even at the height of his powers, suffered five first-round losses while Van Gerwen memorably fell at the first at the hands of John Henderson three years ago.
Punters can expect upsets in round one where the formbook is less of a bible than usual. Gabriel Clemens, one of Germany’s growing breed of darts aces, looks overpriced at
9/5 against Nathan Aspinall, for example. Both men are going well, it could easily go to a third and final set and the German is overpriced where the margins are so fine.
Van Gerwen arrives in Coventry the weakest favourite in the 23-year history of the tournament with world champion Peter Wright,
5/1, and in-form Gerwyn Price, also
5/1, breathing down his neck.
It’s been a tough year for Van Gerwen. Since losing to Snakebite in the world final in January, The Green Machine has had one significant high – landing the odds at the UK Open in March.
But there have also been some real lows, among them first-hurdle exits at The Masters and World Series Final and a shock loss to Simon Whitlock at the World Matchplay, all of which were trumped by unthinkably failing to qualify for the Premier League playoffs.
Duzza and Devon Locked on Major Glory
It means Van Gerwen is easy to overlook at the Ricoh Arena where among a whole host of players in with a shout, look out for Glen Durrant and Devon Petersen.
14/1, was a semi-finalist on his debut 12 months ago, reached the Matchplay last four and topped the Premier League table.
He’s ready to make that big breakthrough while Petersen,
30/1, showed there is no one in better form than him when bolting up in Germany recently with a string of ton-plus averages.
* All odds correct at time of writing