Michael van Gerwen was the highest of high-profile losers in the first round of the Unibet World Grand Prix as he was knocked out by John Henderson. That has left the unique tournament wide open as we head into the second round on Tuesday and Wednesday, ahead of the final on Saturday 7th October.
John Henderson labelled the 2-1 victory the “best win” of his career after overcoming the world number one. The Scottish player is rated 32 in the world, but he is enhancing his reputation in this tournament. He will get to take to the stage against another legend of the game in Raymond van Barneveld in the quarter finals, after winning his second round game versus Alan Norris on Tuesday night. Barney has won both matches so far without dropping a set – beating Kyle Anderson 2-0 in the first round, and Steve Beaton 3-0 in the second round on Tuesday evening.
Other players through to the quarters on Tuesday night were Daryl Gurney and Robert Thornton, who will line up against one another in the last eight to complete the top half of the draw. Gurney saw off Joe Cullen 3-1, while Thornton got the better of Dave Chisnall in a tight 3-2.
The tournament is now short of top class players and plenty can fancy their chances of taking the top honour in light of the way the competition has panned out. Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson did not enter the World Grand Prix – the latter pulling out due to the impending birth of his second child. Michael van Gerwen – odds-on favourite before the start of the tournament – has gone, and he was followed out of the first round by James Wade, Adrian Lewis, Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts.
Peter Wright is a player that’s been very much on our radar over the last year or two, and he broke his major televised tournament duck with a win in the 2017 UK Open. Snakebite can be backed at +225 with Bet365 and William Hill to come out on top in this competition, and he will get few better chances to add to that UK Open title.
Wright has performed pretty consistently over the last year, finishing runner-up in both the Premier League and the World Matchplay. He lost to Phil Taylor in the latter and Michael van Gerwen in the former, but neither of those tormentors are in opposition here. Wright plays his second round match on Wednesday night, and should he get the better of Mervyn King, those odds are likely to contract.
A win in that tie will see him up against one of Mensur Suljovic or Steve West, and both are players that one would back Wright to beat on his day. There are no other huge dangers in the bottom half of the draw, with the likes of Simon Whitlock, Gerwyn Price, Richard North and Benito van de Pas potential semi final opponents. Each of those players will present a stiff challenge, but on top form Wright is more than capable of coming through to the final.
Stephen Bunting gave Wright a huge scare in round one, with Snakebite having to watch his opponent miss two opportunities to take the match, before snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Bunting missed two match darts at double 16, allowing Wright to steal in and take a 2-1 victory by winning the deciding leg in the third set. That should sound a warning to backers of Snakebite, but the second round and quarter finals are over an extended five sets which makes shock results slightly less likely. Hopefully the wake-up call will put Wright into a focused frame of mind ahead of Wednesday’s match versus King.
Their respective averages from the first round were 95.90 for Wright and 85.36 for King, and if he can nail the double starts, Snakebite’s class should tell in the end.
Peter Wright to win the World Grand Prix
1st-7th October, 2017