World Grand Prix 2020 preview and schedule: Tuesday October 6
There's a lot to like about the 2020 World Grand Prix.
For one, major PDC darts is back, and that's always the basis of a good time. The World Grand Prix is unique in the calendar, too; the double-in format can reduce the very best to a quivering mass of jelly in a garish shirt. Having just eight seeds means that you get some ludicrous first round match-ups - more on that in a moment.
Next step for Noppie
Adrian Lewis and Chris Dobey get the party started in Coventry (no Dublin this year being one of the things not to like about the Grand Prix.) Lewis racked up a couple of wins at the World Matchplay while Dobey, much to his chagrin, didn't even make it.
Following the English duo is a pair who have impressed this year. Danny Noppert, having made a quietly impressive start to life in the PDC, has been ramping it up ever since reaching the World Series final. Now the spot of Dutch number two is right there for the taking. Ryan Searle, who also continues to go from strength to strength, will be out to have a successful debut.
Mensur Suljovic can jump-start his season with a win in the third tie. He'll face Dirk van Duijvenbode, for whom this is a very big deal. A first World Grand Prix outing is a step in the right direction after a rollercoaster few years, and we can expect some headbanging goodness from the Dutchman if he can shock Suljovic.
Devon on a roll
All the darts purists are already salivating over this one. Devon Petersen's form is so hot that it had to have its own COVID-19 test. Dancing Dev's got the winning fever, having broken his duck at the recent German Darts Championship. There are even some suggestions that the South African star is worth backing to win here. He'll have to first beat another first-timer in the form of Jose de Sousa. I won't even try to guess what De Sousa will get up to. Anything could happen. After some pretty uninspiring outings at majors, perhaps it's the great leveller of the double-in format that'll open the window for Portugal's leading light.
Mervyn King and James Wade are no strangers. In fact, they met just over a week ago. King reigned supreme in that German Darts Championship quarter-final, but this is a different kettle of fish. This is the World Grand Prix, which - oh, hang on. King beat Wade in last year's Grand Prix. So history (recent history, anyway) doesn't favour the two-time champion.
The fact that the World Grand Prix has just eight seeds normally means that the world number nine makes for a tough first round opponent for someone. This year, the number nine is Gary Anderson, and it's a horror of an opening tie for Rob Cross. Hitting their choice of double - Anderson will lead off on tops, Cross on double 18 - will be key. Keep an eye out for either feeling the need to switch early on, because it might be a sign of struggle. In a tie like this, there's not much margin of error.
Polish Eagle targets big prey
Michael van Gerwen really could've done with a nice opening tie (if one exists). Instead, he's got Krzysztof Ratajski, who will be a little disappointed himself that the world number one's been pulled out of the hat. Whoever wins this one will go into the next round on a high after overcoming a high-class opponent. Ratajski hasn't yet registered a win over van Gerwen; what a time it'd be for a first one now.
The final tie of the night pits the most recent PDC major winner against a man who's out on yet another quest to get one of his own. Dimitri van den Bergh was ice-cool at the World Matchplay. You could see his confidence growing throughout the tournament, and now he has another chance to continue that growth. Michael Smith, meanwhile, will be desperate for success at a tournament where he's won just twice in seven appearances.
World Grand Prix 2020 schedule
Tuesday October 6
18:30 Danny Noppert v Ryan Searle
19:05 Mensur Suljovic v Dirk van Duijvenbode
19:40 Jose De Sousa v Devon Petersen
20:15 James Wade v Mervyn King
20:50 Rob Cross v Gary Anderson
21:25 Michael van Gerwen v Krzysztof Ratajski
22:00 Michael Smith v Dimitri Van den Bergh