What a difference a weekend makes
Having gone through the odds last week for the opening round of matches for the World Grand Prix there was quality throughout, but two contests stood out as potential upset wins.t Things can turn around very quickly in the sport of darts though.
The two men who looked like they may come unstuck early were the Scottish pair of Robert Thornton and Gary Anderson. The Thorn hadn’t really followed up his UK Open win with many good performances and The Flying Scotsman has had a pretty woeful year by his standards, not helped by injury and suspensions. Both also had tough draws with Rob taking on the ever-competitive Mark Walsh and Gary facing last-years finalist Brendan Dolan.
Things had looked pretty ropey for the Scots going into one of the biggest weeks in the calendar but as the cliché goes, class is very much permanent and both men showed they are going to be as difficult to beat as ever on Monday night.
Thornton has already enjoyed a highly profitable year after his shock UK Open success and has boosted the bank balance some more with consecutive final appearances in the Players Championship events over the weekend, the second of which he won in dramatic style over Anderson.
Gary’s weekend wasn’t quite so successful but with a record over the two days of played 10, won eight, lost two, he could scarcely have hoped for a better warm-up for the main event starting on Monday.
Sunday night’s final between the two Scots was a real classic as well which will leave both in buoyant mood over their form even though there had to be a loser. Both men averaged three figures as Thornton won it 6-5 in a contest of the highest quality, but as mentioned, averaging 101.44 and beating Chisnall and Barney on route to the final, Anderson won’t be too down on himself.
The question is; can the pair now translate their pre-tournament form onto the big stage? Their opponents are still tricky ones but they are obviously now going to be lagging behind in the confidence charts. Dolan managed third and fourth round berths over the two days, pocketing £1,000 for himself, which represents a solid weekend, but Walsh struggled a little, making the third round on Sunday, but falling at the first hurdle on the Saturday.
Over the last five years, three times the Grand Prix champion has warmed up with a win in a Players Championship the weekend before the event, although each of these were Phil Taylor. His record shows that a boost to form and confidence just before the event helps, but the man is such an anomaly when it comes to most stats it is often irrelevant.
Neither Thornton or Anderson are expected to be lifting the trophy come next Sunday but they certainly look a lot less likely to be checking out of the Citywest Hotel come Tuesday morning.
• 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
• Unstoppable force meets immovable Wizard
• Taylor still the man to overpower