PDC World Grand Prix 2019: Darts experts make their predictions

Who will win the final? Who will be the player to watch? Which seeds are most in danger of going out in the first round? A host of darts journalists, pundits and commentators tackle these and other questions on the eve of the 2019 PDC World Grand Prix.

Who will reach the final – and who will win it?

Wayne Mardle: MVG and Chizzy. MVG to win it.

Stuart Pyke: Fancy it may well be van Gerwen v Wright but this tournament is without doubt the most difficult to predict. You only have to look at the raft of upsets down the years with the short format first round. Six legs and it could be all over.

Rod Studd: I’ve backed Nathan Aspinall and Dave Chisnall. I’d expect MVG to reach the final from the top half of the draw.

Dan Dawson: I think that Gerwyn Price will beat Ian White in the final. I maintain that White has all the ingredients to make major finals, but I think Price has the same kind of game as Thornton when he won it… brilliant on double top, and hits loads of 180s. I do think that Price is in the toughest quarter of the draw to call though, with himself, Gurney and Aspinall all looking capable of going all the way.

Chris Murphy: It’s time for Michael van Gerwen to show who’s boss again and (if he gets through the first round lottery) I think he’ll do that in Dublin. From the bottom half I fancy Daryl Gurney to keep up his impressive recent record in the event and reach the final.

Rob Mullarkey: Gerwyn Price has to be one of the most improved finishers in the game and so far in 2019 he’s hit somewhere in the region of 42% of his darts at a double.

Clearly that counts for a lot with this tournament’s format but Price also appears to be coming good at just the right time, just as he did 12 months ago when he kicked off a very productive autumn with a European Tour title at the International Darts Open.

The Iceman retained his title in Riesa last month and with a recent run to the final of a ProTour event under his belt, I genuinely think he can significantly improve on his quarter-final showing in Dublin last year and win a second major title by beating James Wade in the final.

Jay Shaw: Predicting any outcome with any degree of certainty is a thankless task when it comes to the Grand Prix. Just the eight seeds mean that more big names will run into each other in the early rounds and the bottom section of the draw in particular looks to be an absolute minefield.

No player has defended the title since Phil Taylor a decade ago and that task once again falls to Michael van Gerwen. The last time he came to Dublin as defending champion, he was dumped out by Hendo in the first round and I think, naturally, it’s that hurdle where he is most vulnerable again.

Though Jamie Hughes will offer up a stern test, he hasn’t quite kicked on yet on since winning the Czech Open in June, and I would expect MVG to progress and gradually step it up as the week goes on.

The bottom section of the draw is incredibly closely-matched, but I just have the feeling Nathan Aspinall could be the man to come through.

He has reached at least the semi-final stage in three of his last four televised tournaments and looked in fine fettle in Gibraltar, beating Van Gerwen along the way, and it would be fitting if MVG’s first crack at revenge was to be in the final here.

Faria Darting Index: Michael van Gerwen will win against Gerwyn Price. Cross and Mensur also have a good chance to win the bottom half, but their route is brutal.

Listen to episode 122 of the Weekly Dartscst podcast with special guests Jermaine Wattimena and Callan Rydz, plus our preview of the World Grand Prix via the player below

Who will be the player to watch?

Wayne Mardle: Durrant could come through a tough quarter.

Stuart Pyke: I feel Michael Smith and Dimitri in the top half could give it a real go, while the bottom half of the draw again looks favourable. Hopefully we will see the real Adrian Lewis stand up and the winner of Durrant v Ratajski may go well for the week.

Rod Studd: I’m looking forward to seeing how Nathan Aspinall goes on debut in this format. He’s very composed and is learning all the time.

Dan Dawson: Well I’ve just picked two guys to make the final, so I obviously think they’re the main guys to watch, but I think that whoever comes through Durrant v Ratajski in the opening round could have a big impact.

Chris Murphy: All eyes will be on van Gerwen, considering he has not won the last two big ranking titles. Plenty can stop him but a few of those have drawn each other early. In terms of outsiders I think one of Keegan Brown or Chris Dobey will make at least the quarter-finals.

Rob Mullarkey: ‘Player to watch’ can be synonymous with ‘dark horse’ and while Nathan Aspinall definitely doesn’t fall into the latter category, he is well worth watching.

It’s no surprise that the UK Open champion is attracting a lot of money in the World Championship betting. However, I think the Asp could win another TV major before he slithers into Ally Pally in December. He was devastating in his opening two matches in Gibraltar last weekend; against Ryan Joyce he averaged 108 (6/9 on his doubles) and he was breathtakingly brilliant for the first five legs of his eventual 6-3 win against MvG.

Teenager Keane Barry is also worth a watch in the Tom Kirby Memorial.

Jay Shaw: Aside from Aspinall, who is making his Grand Prix debut as world number 13, it’s hard not to be gravitated towards Mensur Suljovic when it comes to this event.

A specialist on the doubles, notably his trusted double 14, Mensur has reached the semi-finals here on three occasions since 2015 and is probably one of the only players who relishes this format.

The Austrian is the highest ranked non-seed and has been unfortunate to draw Rob Cross, though Cross has failed to win in his two previous visits to the Citywest and should Mensur come through that, he will fancy his chances against anyone.

Faria Darting Index: Ian White. The big question again is: Can he do it on stage? His floor (and Euro Tour) form has been absolutely magnificent this year. Aside from matches on TV Ian White is probably one of the three best players in the world. Unfortunately for him the TV events are more prestigious and therefore more important.

How far will the defending champion Michael van Gerwen go?

Wayne Mardle: All the way.

Rod Studd: MVG hasn’t managed to defend this title yet and this is his fourth attempt to do so. I think he can reach the final though he may not fancy a potential meeting with nemesis JDZ in round two.

Dan Dawson: MvG has a tough opening game against Hughes, and in a tournament where he often see first round shocks, I do think he’s at risk – but I have a sneaky feeling that James Wade might just be able to edge him in the quarter-finals.

Chris Murphy: The nature of the tournament is that his most likely departure point is round one. He either gets beaten then or goes on to win the title. I’m plumping for the latter.

Rob Mullarkey: Put it this way, I wouldn’t back him with any confidence but he is the world number one and he’s won this tournament four times before. I’ll climb off the fence and predict he’ll lose in the second round to Jeffrey de Zwaan.

Jay Shaw: Van Gerwen boasts a fantastic record in the Grand Prix, having reached the final in five of his eight appearances, the only blip being that shock defeat to Hendo two years ago.

I think he will be sharp and focused from the off and is housed in the top section of the draw where his main threats look to be James Wade (quarter-finals) and Gary Anderson (semi-finals), or perhaps even his bogey man Jeffrey de Zwaan in round two.

I would expect him to reach at least the semi-finals, by which time the long format plays more into his hands and he can press home his quality and experience.

Faria Darting Index: He will win it. Although he isn’t a clear cut favorite like he has been in recent years. My system has his chances at around 35.2% to win in Dublin.

Which first round match are you most looking forward to?

Wayne Mardle: Like everyone else, Rob v Mensur. Durrant v Ratajski. Price v Chizzy.

Stuart Pyke: Can Big John do it again in Dublin?! Wade should be strong but he hasn’t been immune to struggling in round one. Dobey v Evans will be exciting. Delighted both have made it. Plenty of fireworks in Price v Chisnall and Nathan Aspinall will fancy his chances of making a big splash again.

Rod Studd: With only eight seeds, big hitters can be drawn together as in Cross vs Suljovic and Chizzy vs Price. Those are great match ups but who wouldn’t salivate over the prospect of JDZ vs The Adonis?

Dan Dawson: MvG v Hughes looks brilliant, as does Price v Chizzy and Duzza/Ratajski – but Cross v Suljovic is the standout tie for me. Cross still hasn’t won a game in Dublin, but we saw in Blackpool that once he gets going, he can win anything.

Chris Murphy: Rob Cross v Mensur Suljovic – two genuine title contenders. That’s the stand out tie, followed closely by Price v Chisnall.

Rob Mullarkey: There are plenty of candidates but I’ll go for Price v Chisnall because my title prediction rests on the outcome. The bulk of the darts I watch is on the European Tour and these two have really impressed me during 2019 (they’re two of the five men to hit European nine-darters in 2019). The scoring of Chizzy, armed with his new darts (and wearing a new shirt), and the doubling of Price suggests this could be a classic.

Jay Shaw: There are three obvious ties which stand out to me: Durrant vs Ratajski, Price vs Chisnall and Cross vs Suljovic. On current form, it looks almost impossible to call the winner of each.

I’m particularly interested to see how Durrant and Ratajski both fare on their Dublin debuts, especially coming into the event in such strong format and confidence levels sky high.

Ratajski actually defeated Duzza on the way to winning the 2017 World Masters, a result I know Glen wasn’t too happy about, and I’m sure he’ll have revenge on his mind.

Faria Darting Index: Glen Durrant vs. Krzysztof Ratajski. The two new emerging stars on the PDC stage. But to be fair, there are a lot of ties to look forward to.

Which seeds are most in danger of going out in the first round?

Wayne Mardle: Rob. Price. Smith needs to be on his game against Simon.

Rod Studd: Rob Cross has never won a game at the GP and faces a tough task against three times semi finalist Mensur. Out of sorts Michael Smith could be in danger against former runner up Simon Whitlock and could former conquerer of MVG Big Hendo hand James Wade a fifth straight round one defeat?

Dan Dawson: They’re all in danger… this tournament’s bonkers. I think Cross is the one who looks in most danger, but then Price also has a horrific first round draw. I still think Price can come through it though and claim another major title.

Chris Murphy: All of them! It’s the World Grand Prix. They are all vulnerable in this unforgiving format. I reckon half of the eight are likely to go out. I’ll look good if I give you actual names and turn out to be right though so I’ll say Cross, Price, Anderson and Wade will fall foul of the Russian roulette round.

Rob Mullarkey: Rob Cross was beaten in the first round last year and he wouldn’t have feared too many tougher openers than Mensur Suljović. The Austrian was a semi-finalist at the Citywest in 2018 and he has won five of their last seven including big-stage encounters at the World Series, the Champions League and the Grand Slam.

Jay Shaw: The best of three sets format has paved the way for some mad results down the years so it really wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see any of the eight seeds sent packing early.

However, looking at the draw, I’d say the three most susceptible to an early exit would be Gerwyn Price, Rob Cross and Michael van Gerwen.

Price hasn’t got a great record in the Grand Prix and is facing a revitalised Chizzy, who is a former finalist here and landed the small matter of a nine-darter on his way to the final in Gibraltar.

As mentioned, Cross has crashed out at the first hurdle in both previous appearances and has been handed the toughest possible draw on paper, while MVG will be wary of the threat posed by Hughes and can ill-afford a slow start in such an unforgiving format.

Faria Darting Index: I’d say Rob Cross, because he is playing an in form Mensur. We all know Suljovic can beat anyone on his day and so can Rob. This is a real 50/50 match for me.

Where does the World Grand Prix rank for you in terms of it’s prestige in the game?

Wayne Mardle: Fourth.

Stuart Pyke: The WGP continues to grow in stature. Some of the players hate the double start. Good! It’s a real test and a different test. I like the set format. One addition for me to put even more pressure on the players. If you miss nine darts to get off then you forfeit the leg ! That’ll shake them up.

Rod Studd: The Grand Prix’s unique quirky format makes it fascinating event which will always have an important place on the darting calendar. Ask Michael van Gerwen whose career the Grand Prix relaunched in 2012.

Dan Dawson: Not as highly as the World Championship, but slightly better than Players Championship 17 in Wigan.

Chris Murphy: The Grand Prix is a proper biggie. Not as prestigious as the Matchplay or the Worlds (obviously) but if there was such a thing as triple crown it would be the third jewel in it in my mind. An emerald if you will.

Rob Mullarkey: Nobody can dispute it is behind the World Championship, the World Matchplay and the Grand Slam in terms of prestige but it has the best format in the game and it can be a leveller. I think the Grand Prix is one tournament that might benefit from a change of scene – perhaps rotating where it is held in a manner similar to golf’s Open Championship.

Jay Shaw: With it being the only double-start event, that brings a unique edge and generally it has been the highlight of the Autumn period since it began in 1998.

Personally, I don’t think the Citywest is the most accessible venue from a fans’ perspective and I would like to see it moved on in the near future, perhaps closer to Dublin city centre or somewhere with a smaller capacity but that generates a better atmosphere during the week.

There’s a record £110,000 top prize on offer this year which isn’t to be sniffed at, and I would put the Grand Prix on a par with the UK Open, behind the Worlds, the Matchplay and the Grand Slam.

Faria Darting Index: Right behind the Worlds and the Matchplay. I think it’s bigger than the Premier League because that’s a glorified expo.

Picture: PDC

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