Five must-watch matches from first round of World Grand Prix 2023

The World Grand Prix will kick off next Monday at the Morningside Arena in Leicester. The top-16 in the world rankings and the top-16 in the cleaned Pro Tour rankings will compete in the unique double-in double-out tournament in Leicester.

The first round will be played on Monday and Tuesday nights. Dartsnews looks ahead to the five best duels from the first round of the 2023 World Grand Prix.

Michael van Gerwen (2) v Josh Rock

The number two seed managed to win the World Grand Prix last year. The reigning Premier League champion also recently showed excellent form again by winning the World Series of Darts Finals in front of a home crowd in Amsterdam. He will face reigning junior world champion Josh Rock in the first round of the World Grand Prix. The two players have played each other many times this year at key moments. Rock defeated Van Gerwen 7-0 in the semifinals of the Austrian Darts Open, reaching his first final on the Euro Tour. Van Gerwen managed to beat Rock in the final of Players Championship 7.

Gerwyn Price (4) v Danny Noppert

Gerwyn Price already won several Euro Tours and Players Championships this year, and made it to the final of the Premier League for the first time in his career. However, the Welshman has not yet been able to reward himself with an individual major title this season. He will have to get past Danny Noppert in his first match. The world number nine did pick up a title on the floor, but has yet to make a big run at a major this season.

Michael Smith (1) v Callan Rydz

The reigning World Champion will take on Callan Rydz in the first round. Smith became the new world number one after his victory at the Alexandra Palace, but since then has only managed to grab a Euro Tour and a World Series title. Moreover, in August, 'Bullyboy' made the switch to another arrow supplier and, for the time being, that transfer has not yet resulted in good results. Rydz had a very mediocre season in 2023, until he had a very successful weekend on the Pro Tour in early September, with a final victory at Players Championship 19. With these results, Rydz managed to qualify for the World Grand Prix for the third year in a row.

Nathan Aspinall (5) v Stephen Bunting

The reigning World Matchplay champion will take on former Lakeside champion Stephen Bunting in the fifth match of the opening night. In addition to his victory in Blackpool, Aspinall also recently reached the final of the World Series of Darts Finals in Amsterdam, showing that the 32-year-old Englishman is in good form. Bunting also showed good form recently, when he managed to reach the final of the German Darts Open directly with new heavier arrows.

Jonny Clayton (7) v Ross Smith

This year, along with Gerwyn Price, Jonny Clayton managed to win the World Cup title again for Wales. He did the same in 2020, after which he managed to win several television tournaments, including the World Grand Prix (in 2021). Reigning European champion Ross Smith only managed to win a title on the Pro Tour this year. However, both players showed good form on the most recent Euro Tour, where they both came up just short against Michael van Gerwen.

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