Lewis to start with a bang
Five world champions and six of the world’s top 10 are on show in the eight games on the second night of the Grand Prix so with number like that we can only expect matches of the very highest quality.
The potential highlight of the evening could be two of the former champions of the world squaring off as current king of the Ally Pally Adrian Lewis takes on former BDO main man Richie Burnett. Accused of only turning up at the World Championships, Lewis has come closest to adding variety to his trophy cabinet at the Grand Prix when he lost out in the 2010 final to James Wade. His Welsh opponent also has some fond memories of time spent in Dublin though as he stormed back into form last year with a run to the semi-finals, his first major last four berth since the 2001 World Matchplay.
The match will be quickfire, full of 180s and one that the Irish crowd will lap up, most likely backing the Prince of Wales to pull off an upset. Burnett’s style is exciting but can just play into Jackpot’s hands as his record suggests having lost all three of their previous encounters, including one in this competition back in 2004. This may well be one of the more entertaining contests of the evening, but in terms of a shock it seems unlikely.
The man who Lewis beat at the Alexandra Palace back in January Andy Hamilton takes on the 2008 BDO champ Mark Webster who has had a pretty poor year thus far. Since losing in the final of the Players Championships Finals at the back end of last year, the Welshman has not reached the final two of any competition at all. In comparison Hamilton has been in four finals, including, of course the World Championships, unfortunately for the Hammer he has won none of them, but it is an impressive record nonetheless. This is why the Englishman is favourite, but when Spider is on-song he is lethal on the doubles so shouldn’t be ruled out at a generous 6/4.
Two-time Grand Prix champion James Wade is also in action and there is little to suggest he will have a problem with beating Colin Osbourne who has had a year to forget on the tour. The last 16 is the best Ozzy has managed in Dublin previously and it is unlikely he will match that this year against the second most successful man in Grand Prix history.
Two tight matches that see youth being made favourite over experience are Michael van Gerwen taking on Colin Lloyd and Wes Newton facing Ronnie Baxter. Both these contests have the potential to be real classics with all four men capable of darts of the highest calibre. Van Gerwen is in fine form after yet another Players Championship win on Saturday and he will be confident of seeing off Lloyd who he has defeated in their latest two encounters including a 6-1 drubbing on the European Tour. Newton and Baxter proved their form in the Championship League of late and although the Warrior is expected to progress, the Rocket showed yet again at the Matchplay that he can still mix it with the best. Newton is strong favourite at 11/17 best price, but there won’t be too much money being piled on the Fleetwood man.
A potential shock, and it would be a big one, is Ian White taking on Raymond van Barneveld in a match that could go all the way. Barney has picked up his performance over the last six months with a win on the European Tour being a highlight but White has been thoroughly impressive as well, and grabbed some headlines by thrashing Adie Lewis 6-0 in the European Championship. It’s a big ask for White, but he might just be worth a pound or two at 13/8.
Steve Beaton taking on Andy Smith could really go either way as the fairly level odds suggest, but Smith’s form has been poor making the 10/11 on Beaton looking quite tempting. Finally Irish qualifier Mickey Mansell faces Paul Nicholson and the Asset will be desperate to finally get his season on track after injury and lack of form has left him without as much as a quarter-final appearance since the World Cup back in February. With the crowd on his side, Mansell might just be able to pull off an upset at 8/5.
Van Gerwen, Lewis & Wade to win @ 3.18 with Coral
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