After a dramatic opening night of the World Grand Prix Sky Sports very own darts guru Dave Clark talks exclusively to the Paddy Power Blog ahead of tonight’s first round games. Simon Whitlock and Gary Anderson have already fallen at the first hurdle and Dave is expecting another huge upset at the Citywest Hotel.
Andy Smith is a two-time quarter-finalist here and a real character behind the scenes. Steve Beaton, ‘The Bronze Adonis’, should be staying alive tonight though. We haven’t seen great things from Smith on the circuit recently, he’s crashed out in the first round on a few occasions in major championships. And we haven’t seen the best of Beaton on TV recently either but he’s popular with the fans and I’m backing him to edge out Smith.
Since last year Mark Webster is not the player he was, the frailties have really come through. He played well over the weekend which is a good sign because he is still a quality, young darts player but you know what you’re going to get with Andy Hamilton. If he goes close with his first double he’ll get it on his second, or maximum on his third dart. He’s so solid. He’s a grinder and a grafter and he’s been working hard on his game. He’s seen the way the draws panned out and he thinks he can reach the final without breaking into too much of a sweat. Hamilton will be a comfortable winner.
MVG has been in scintillating form on the circuit and is making only his second appearance in the Grand Prix. He previously played in Dublin in 2009 and lost to Kevin Painter in the first round. When he burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old and won the world masters he went on to join the PDC circuit in 2007 but it seems like he’s been here for years. He’s got the sponsors and management team on board now and is reaping the rewards. You know what Colin Lloyd can do on the top of his game but if MVG can get into a rhythm he is awesome. At the weekend he finished a leg on 170 and then started the next leg the same way, his confidence is that high. For me MVG will do a job over Lloyd tonight.
Wes Newton is playing some of the best darts of his career. He is the unsung hero of the sport at the moment. He just couldn’t miss in the European Championships and was in phenomenal form. It’s the ‘Battle of Blackpool’ as well with Baxter living there and Newton in Fleetwood. Phil Taylor is in this section of the draw so I can’t see either of these two progressing that far to be fair. Baxter gets plenty of support in Dublin and although Newton isn’t that popular here the confidence he’s got in his game will see him through. The number six seed will survive tonight against Ronnie Baxter.
You don’t know what Wade will turn up and that’s a worry. Wade on his best form can blow away the field but it depends on his mental state and how he’s prepared for the competition. Colin Osbourne is returning after what’s been a miserable year for him. It’s easy to see why Wade is the favourite but this is difficult. Have a look at Wade’s body language when he does the walk on tonight, if he looks good, if he looks confident and if he looks relaxed then pile on him. But if he looks edgy and nervous than avoid him like the plague because he could be another first round victim.
Adrian Lewis when he’s on form is a sight to behold on his doubles. He was a runner-up here two years ago and although he hasn’t had the best of luck here who’d back against him to go all the way. He might not have had his eye on the ball recently, he got married, he’s been travelling and might not have been practising as much as he should do but he’s a class act. Richie Burnett is a credit to all dart players. He gave up the game but came back and went on to put in some fantastic performances on the circuit and is earning a good living from the sport. You have to look at the form-line and that’s pointing to Adrian Lewis, but Burnett is well capable of an upset. It’s a dodgy one but Jackpot should edge it.
Ian White is here by virtue of some incredible form on the PDC pro-tour. He has reached four finals already in 2012 and is a former News of the World winner years ago. He is a phenomenal player making his debut and I’ll think he’ll cope fine with his doubles. Barney could be on the end of an upset here. White is so confident on the circuit and Barney will be edgy knowing he could have a run in this competition. Ian White will shock the darts world tonight when he beats Barney.
Paul Nicholson will be the figure of hate tonight. He’s tried to change his ways, he doesn’t want to be the bad boy of darts anymore but he can’t resist it. He loves the WWE wrestling style of entrances as well. You have to look at the form line and it shows that Mansell isn’t in Nicholson’s class. The Irish fans will have Mansell’s back but stick with the form and a win for Nicholson.