Unstoppable force meets immovable Wizard
The 2012 World Grand Prix gets underway in some style on Monday with eight world class contests getting the action started at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin.
There are a number of highlights on the first evening of the competition and there will undoubtedly be some disappointed punters who will see their man fall at the first hurdle. One match that will certainly see one of the fancied men lose out is Simon Whitlock taking on Justin Pipe which is arguably the pick of the entire first round.
The Aussie is in fine fettle after a win on the Pro Tour and lifting the trophy at the European Championships, but Pipe is looking good as well after winning Group 2 of the Championship League, which may not be the most glamorous of events but is incredibly tough to succeed in.
It is safe to say that neither man will be relishing the contest as for both men it is near enough the trickiest draw they could have been given. Their head-to-head record is completely level although the Wizard has the only win in a major tournament at this year’s UK Open. Whitlock is favourite and understandably, but Pipe won’t be 7/4 against many opponents and is capable of pulling off a big upset. It’s the Australian to win, just, but there won’t be many piling in on him at 4/7.
Another tasty looking clash sees two relative Grand Prix novices squaring off in Dave Chisnall, making his second appearance and Dean Winstanley on debut in Dublin. Both these men are major winners in the making but Chizzy is just a little bit further down the road to glory it would seem. However, it has always been recognised that his doubles are his Achilles heel and if ever that is going to be exposed it is in the Grand Prix as it was last year when he lost in round one to Alan Tabern. Winstanley has proved he can mix it with the big boys, never more so than when he sent Gary Anderson packing in the Matchplay and if Chizzy isn’t at his best then the Yorkshireman will certainly pounce.
Two of the form horses heading to the Citywest are the Scottish pair of Gary Anderson and Rob Thornton who both shone over the weekend in the Players Championships. Thornton reached both finals, beating Anderson in the second and they have both gone from potential first round losers to possible dark horses for the latter stages. Anderson takes on Brendan Dolan and Thornton faces Mark Walsh so nothing is nailed on against quality opponents but the Scots are flying high and should prosper.
Phil Taylor, the world number one, is in action on night one, but there is little betting interest in the Power really. He is 1/8 to see-off Grand Prix debutant Michael Smith and although there are very big things to come from the youngster it won’t be on Monday against the great player in history.
A much tighter contest sees two stalwarts of the sport in Mervyn King and Terry Jenkins battling for the right to face either Chisnall or Winstanley. These two have had some real tussles in recent years and it is the King who has had the better of them, but he has been struggling of late and the Bull looks good at 11/13.
A potential upset is home favourite Willie O’Connor taking on the Dutch Destroyer Vincent van der Voort. This is the Irishman’s third appearance in the Grand Prix and he is yet to win a match, but there is certainly a first time for everything and against the out of form Dutchman this could be his year. This format doesn’t suit Vdv’s rapid style and being last up on Monday night, the crowd will be at their raucous best and getting behind O’Connor.
Finally, there’s a tasty looking clash between Kev Painter and Kim Huybrechts which could just be one of the highlights of the night. The Belgian is making his debut in the tournament and despite Painter being a four-time quarter-finalist, Huybrechts is the favourite. It is hard to argue with that on current form and if Painter is anything but at his best it should be a successful start to his Grand Prix career for Kim.
Recommended Bet: Willie O’Connor to win @ 7/4 with Ladbrokes
Recommended Accumulator: Thornton, Huybrechts & Taylor to win @ 3.24 with sportingbet
• Dutch invasion to topple King
• Expect an epic semi-final
• Warrior in for a battle
• Van Gerwen to hit the Jackpot
• Power to remove Thorn from side
• Lewis to start with a bang
• What a difference a weekend makes
• Taylor still the man to overpower