The 2021 Boylesports World Grand Prix gets under way in Leicester on Sunday with eight quick-fire First Round ties. The…
The 2021 Boylesports World Grand Prix gets under way in Leicester on Sunday with eight quick-fire First Round ties.
The annual double-start tournament will see 32 players competing for £450,000 in prize money at the Morningside Arena from October 3-9.
The top 16 players from the main PDC Order of Merit are joined in the star-studded line-up by the next 16 highest ranked players from the ProTour Order of Merit.
Reigning champion Gerwyn Price is bidding to become only the third player in the 23-year history of the event to successfully retain the title, but faces a formidable First Round test from Michael Smith.
With only the world’s top eight players seeded in the draw, world number nine Smith presents the toughest possible opening draw on paper for Price – who comes into the event on the back of successive European Tour triumphs.
The current World Champion has not lost in the opening round of a ranked TV major since the 2020 World Matchplay and will be eyeing a fast start against the four-time major finalist.
Smith, meanwhile, will be determined to improve on a poor overall record in this event, having suffered First Round exits in six of his eight previous appearances.
James Wade, one of only four previous Boylesports World Grand Prix champions in this year’s field, opens up with a clash against Australian ace Damon Heta.
Wade lifted this trophy in Dublin in 2007 and 2010 and was also runner-up in 2014, making him one of the most prolific performers over the double-start format.
Heta is one of six debutants in this year’s competition and is looking to avenge his defeat to ‘The Machine’ in the Quarter-Finals of last year’s Grand Slam.
Eighth seed Dave Chisnall aims to continue his impressive record in the Grand Prix when he faces a resurgent Mensur Suljovic.
Chisnall was runner-up in 2013 and 2019 and has reached a further two Semi-Finals, but starts out against an opponent who reached the final of both the recent World Cup of Darts and Gibraltar Darts Trophy.
Suljovic is also a three-time World Grand Prix semi-finalist and renowned for his efficiency on the outer ring.
Mervyn King, the 2012 runner-up, features in the opening match of the tournament against Dutch debutant Martijn Kleermaker.
King, 55, is making his 15th consecutive appearance in this event, underlining his impressive longevity at the top level and will look to use that vast experience to his advantage against the world number 56 – who joined the PDC circuit via Qualifying School last year.
Dirk van Duijvenbode, last year’s beaten finalist, faces UK Open runner-up Luke Humphries in one of the stand-out ties of the opening round.
Van Duijvenbode was denied glory in his first major final by Price in Coventry 12 months ago and will be keen to put an end to a miserable run of form on his return to the Midlands.
Van Duijvenbode has lost in the opening round of his last six consecutive Singles events, while Humphries has enjoyed a magnificent breakthrough year, reaching his first major final, as well as three ProTour final appearances and a Euro Tour Semi-Final.
Daryl Gurney, who famously claimed his maiden major at this event in Dublin four years ago, starts out with a show-down against World Championship semi-finalist Stephen Bunting.
Gurney has suffered First Round exits in four of his last six ranked majors, while Bunting has failed to make it beyond the Second Round of this event since his Semi-Final run on debut in 2014.
Two of this year’s stand-out performers on the ProTour go head-to-head as Joe Cullen takes on Ross Smith.
Cullen, a quarter-finalist 12 months ago, has racked up two Players Championship titles this season, as well as a further runner-up spot, while Smith opened his account at Players Championship 19 in July, having reached a final in April.
The final match of the night sees July’s World Matchplay runner-up Dimitri van den Bergh take on the ever-dangerous Ryan Searle.
World number five Van den Bergh is seeded in this event for the first time in what will be only his third appearance, having come agonisingly close to retaining the Matchplay crown in Blackpool.
Searle, meanwhile, lost in the opening round on his debut last year and notably secured his second Players Championship title in August.
The action gets under way from 6pm BST, with all First Round matches contested over the best of three sets.
All Sets are the best of five legs and there will be no tie break in any Set. All legs must begin and end with a double, meaning that a player must hit a double before he can begin scoring in each leg.
Boylesports World Grand Prix 2021 Day One Schedule of Play
Sunday October 3
6.15pm Martijn Kleermaker v Mervyn King
6.45pm Dirk van Duijvenbode v Luke Humphries
7.15pm Stephen Bunting v Daryl Gurney
7.45pm Dave Chisnall v Mensur Suljovic
8.15pm Joe Cullen v Ross Smith
8.45pm James Wade v Damon Heta
9.15pm Gerwyn Price v Michael Smith
9.45pm Dimitri Van den Bergh v Ryan Searle