World Grand Prix 2020 preview and schedule: Thursday October 8
Just numbers one and three remain; the second seed, world champion Peter Wright, was stunned by Ryan Joyce. Nathan Aspinall and Daryl Gurney joined Michael Smith, James Wade and Rob Cross on the scrapheap. We now move into the second round of the World Grand Prix, with games now the best of five sets.
Take two for the Wizard
Dirk van Duijvenbode can do us all a big favour by not putting on a repeat of his arduous win over Mensur Suljovic. Three sets was hard enough to bear, let alone (up to) five. The Dutchman was embarrassed by the nature of his debut triumph, and rightly so. He can put things right by surprising World Matchplay champ Dimitri van den Bergh. The Belgian gave us some real highlights in the first round, primarily an 11-darter and a stunning 132 check ended the first and second sets against Michael Smith. With any luck, the challenge will raise van Duijvenbode's game to a place TV audiences haven't yet seen.
Simon Whitlock faces the extremely unusual prospect of playing two World Grand Prix matches in two days. Having been parachuted in, the Aussie grabbed his first win since the 2017 semi-final. He did it in style, too, leaving Chris Dobey in his dust. Mervyn King was similarly assured, and with James Wade successfully sent packing, the two veterans meet with a quarter-final against Michael van Gerwen or Devon Petersen the prize at stake. Their respective successes starting the leg - Whitlock had a 70 per cent double-in rate, King 62 per cent - puts emphasis on the importance of building on strong opening visits.
Another test for MVG
If you ignore a pretty slack first set, Danny Noppert checked in and out with well clear of a 50 per cent success rate. That's the sort of form that can take players a long way - though slow starts can be punished. Gary Anderson is the sort of ruthless type who'll do just that. Anderson's first round win went the other way to his opponent's, with a stratospheric first set effort then tailing off somewhat in the second. A Noppert-esque fightback would take advantage of another drop-off. To bring this belaboured point to a close; this should be a fantastic battle between two very solid players.
Should Michael van Gerwen go on to win a sixth World Grand Prix title, he'll have done so by running one almighty gauntlet. Krzysztof Ratajski is a terror of a first opponent, and the Dutchman overcame - just about. At points during the match, you could see the fluidity of the vintage MVG throw, but he's still vulnerable. Devon Petersen also had a rough ride in the opener, but took the chances he needed to in order to see off Jose de Sousa. The doubling in could use some tweaking, but the rest is just fine. The South African is in hot form and will be right up for the fight. Let's see if van Gerwen can "smash" Wayne Mardle's boy...
World Grand Prix schedule
Thursday 8 October
19:10 Dimitri van den Bergh vs Dirk van Duijvenbode
20:00 Mervyn King vs Simon Whitlock
20:50 Gary Anderson vs Danny Noppert
21:40 Michael van Gerwen vs Devon Petersen