The Citywest Hotel was buzzing as the dart fanatics of the world descended on Dublin for the annual World Grand Prix of darts. The week-long event saw 32 of the world’s top players competing for a total prize fund of £400,000. The notorious ‘double in, double out’ format has caused some major upsets in the past and it continues to do so. The most famous one being the 1st round departure of world number 1, Michael Van Gerwen to ‘Big John’ Henderson in the 2017 tournament. This paved the way for Daryl Gurney to win his first major television title and become the first Irishman to win a PDC major event, beating Simon Whitlock 5-4 in an entertaining and equally dramatic final.
This big win for Daryl Gurney piled the pressure on his young shoulders to perform the magic that he played in the previous instalment. He kicked off his 2018 WGP campaign with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over John Henderson, who he beat 4-1 on his path to glory last year. The first major casualty in the Citywest was the reigning World Champion and world number 3, Rob Cross who fell to a 2-0 defeat against ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ Steve Beaton for the second year in succession. The ‘Lethal Biscuit’ and crowd favourite, James Wilson took down last year’s semi-finalist and world number 7, Simon Whitlock, 2-1 in the opening round. Michael Van Gerwen brushed the talented Irish player, Steve Lennon aside 2-0, with Van Gerwen clearly sending a message out to his opponents with his emphatic win.
With the top players in flying form, they progressed to round 2. The highlight of round 2 was the intense clash between former back-to-back champion of the world, Adrian Lewis and James Wilson (formerly known as ‘Jammie dodger’). It was a tight affair throughout with both players missing crucial doubles. James Wilson eventually came through 3-2, with a performance which saw him hit a rare but wonderful 125 finish on the bull. The quarter finals stage saw the fall of the second favourite to win the tournament, Gary Anderson, who lost out 3-0 to the in-form Daryl Gurney. Gurney fired a fantastic 92.72 average to dispatch an off form ‘Flying Scotsman’. This game didn’t go without drama, with Anderson claiming Gurney was mumbling behind his back while he threw his darts. Regardless of the circumstances, ‘Superchin’ progressed hoping to relive his success of last year.
Peter Wright put an end to James Wilson’s magnificent run in the quarter finals with a hard fought 3-2 victory. Mensur Suljovic also continued his fantastic run of results by knocking out the only remaining Welshman and world number 11, Gerwyn Price. 4 of the top 6 players in the world made up the semi-finals line up. Michael Van Gerwen made light work of Daryl Gurney in the semi-finals with a 4-1 victory. The match of the tournament came in the semi-final, when Mensur Suljovic took on Peter Wright. ‘The Gentle’ Mensur raced into a 3-0 lead with some brilliant darts including a 133 check-out in the first leg. ‘Snakebite’ Wright is well known for his fighting spirit and determination and showed it on the big stage when he had to, reeling off four sets on the spin to conquer the Austrian 4-3. Wright was overcome with emotion after his astonishing comeback to set up a shot at winning only his second televised major.
The dream final was set. The world number 1 versus the world number 2. Michael Van Gerwen versus Peter Wright for the grand prize of £100,000 and the title of World Grand Prix champion. The final got off to a cracking start with ‘Snakebite’ missing darts for the set and ‘Mighty Mike’ jumping in to steal the first set. Peter Wright then turned on the style to take the next set with some decent finishing. It was neck and neck in the opening stages of the encounter with the finalists sharing the spoils at 2-2. Van Gerwen, being the champion he is and having won this prestigious tournament 3 times previously, showed his experience to claim 3 consecutive sets and secure the title for the fourth time in his career. It was a very memorable tournament for many reasons. There were shocks and drama from start to finish, but Van Gerwen continued his dominance over the world of darts and furthered his already sizable lead at the summit of the order of merit.