#JB 31 The World Grand Prix

Friday, October 3, 2014
Column JB31
The World Grand Prix

What is it that makes the World Grand Prix different from all the other darts majors? Is it the venue, the format or the crowd? I believe that every major tournament on the darting calendar brings something different to the table and the World Grand Prix is no different.

Now, I thought long and hard about how to write this next article and decided that doing another conventional tournament preview would be too repetitive. It would probably lead to me making a fool of myself yet again with my predictions and let’s be honest, the main competitors of this tournament won’t be any different to the previous ones this year. As a result, I decided that I would instead look at the history of this tournament and show why I think it is one of the best tournaments of the year.

To begin with, the World Grand Prix began in the same year of my birth back in 1998 and the tournament was created as a replacement for the World Pairs tournament which had run 3 years previously. Originally, the tournament was held in Rochester, Kent for the first 2 years before being moved over the Irish Sea to Rosslare in the year 2000. Then, the tournament moved again the following year to the Citywest Hotel in the Irish capital of Dublin and this venue has been the home of the World Grand Prix for 14 years. I personally think it is the venue of this tournament that makes it such a success and before you ask…I am not Irish! However, the Irish crowd is one of the best throughout the world for their singing and passion while at the same time being respectful of the players. This is evidenced not just by the World Grand Prix but also by the Premier League as you won’t find many people who will disagree that Dublin is one of the best if not the best venue on the circuit.

In addition, as the venue changed so did the prize money because throughout the years the huge crowds and Sky television rights have contributed to thousands of pounds being pounded into our game. Incredibly, back in 1998 the prize money stood at a total of £38,000 and £9,000 for the winner whereas for this year’s tournament, the money has risen by over 1000% to a total prize fund of £400,000 with £100,000 going to the winner! How much would you love to earn £100,000 for chucking some metal spikes at a board!?

Thirdly, It wasn’t until I researched this tournament that I realised how much the format had changed over the years. Originally, the tournament began as a straight knockout tournament of set play darts before a group stage was introduced in 1999. However this was not a success as all 4 seeded players progressed from their group and therefore the tournament was reverted back to straight knockout for the 21st century. This led to numerous format changes before the right format was found in 2003 and we have stuck with this ever since. This consists of set play darts with each set being the best of 5 legs. This is especially exciting in the first round due to each match being the best of 3 sets so this can lead to surprise results and fantastic drama! Phil Taylor’s record in the World Grand Prix perfectly illustrates the difficulty of the first round games because before 2010, he had either gone out in the first round or won every tournament! Despite this, it is not just the short format which stands out for this tournament but its the double start format which makes it unique from every other PDC tournament. This format means any double trouble will be crucially punished and it lets the fans see who’s really been putting in the practice hours on their doubles.

Another reason that contributes to the success of this tournament is the timing of the event. Situated at the beginning of October is the perfect time as it provides excellent entertainment for darts fans who are pining for the next major tournament. It’s been a long 2 months since we witnessed Taylor winning his 15th World Matchplay! Similarly, it is also a very exciting time for all darts fans as we enter the busiest few months of our sporting year in the lead up to another World Championships. Therefore, the World Grand Prix provides an outstanding opening for this period.

Finally, I think I have shown why the World Grand Prix is well worth a watch and it is a tournament like no other on the PDC circuit. There have been many stand out moments over the years with Brendan Dolan providing the highlight when he hit the first ever televised 9 darter in a double start format in front of his home crowd in 2011. Moreover, reigning champion Phil Taylor unsurprisingly has an exemplarily record in this tournament with 11 tournament wins and it was Michael Van Gerwen’s 2012 victory which shot him onto our screens as a fan favourite and future world champion. This year there are many contenders to pick up the crown and again Taylor is slightly ahead of Van Gerwen as favourite to regain his title but don’t forget my players to watch out for as Gary Anderson and Stephen Bunting both head into this tournament with a realistic chance of success. So that’s it, I’ve written it, hopefully you’ve read it and now it’s time to watch it! I have my wall chart at the ready and I’m anticipating a great week. Will there be another 9 darter, a first round shock or will Taylor emerge triumphant again?

I’m ready to find out…are you?

Download the World Grand Prix Wallchart at: http://www.pdc.tv/news/article/14iyi459yw0zi1ur2cdioczsfe/title/get-your-world-grand-prix-wallchat

 

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Jamie Barron
Hailing from Yorkshire, England, 16-year-old Jamie "Jambo" Barron is a passionate darts fan who is looking forward to taking A-Level Media Studies and pursuing a career in sports journalism. More of Jamie's excellent writings can be found at his blog: http://www.jambosdarts.blogspot.co.uk/
Jamie Barron

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