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Bunting dispatches Aspinall in World Grand Prix opener as Wade, Van Barneveld and Cross also exit

Boylesports World Grand Prix 2023 | Day One Preview and Order of Play

Jamie Shaw in World Grand Prix 02 Oct 2023
Gary Anderson salutes the crowd (Photo credit: Michael Cooper/PDC)

The 2023 Boylesports World Grand Prix gets under way in Leicester on Monday, with eight quick-fire First Round ties on the cards.

The 26th staging of the prestigious double-start event features the world’s top 16 players and 16 ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers competing for the £120,000 top prize at the Morningside Arena.

Two former World Grand Prix champions and a further five runners-up are in action on a star-studded opening night as they bid to avoid an early exit.

Gerwyn Price, the 2020 champion and number four seed, launches his ninth World Grand Prix campaign with a show-down against 2021 semi-finalist Danny Noppert.

Price finished runner-up here two years ago before falling at the Semi-Final hurdle 12 months ago and has picked up a second World Cup title this year, while also finishing runner-up in the Premier League.

The Ice Man has also picked up two European Tour titles this term and boasts an emphatic head-to-head record over Noppert, including wins in last year’s World Matchplay and Grand Slam.

Noppert, the world number nine, is the highest ranked unseeded player in the draw and has picked up two Players Championship titles this season, the second of which coming only a week ago in Barnsley.

World number one and reigning World Champion Michael Smith looks to finally banish his below-par record in this event, starting with a tricky test against a resurgent Callan Rydz.

Smith is making his eleventh appearance in the double-start major and has incredibly never made it beyond the Second Round stage, with ‘Bully Boy’ having suffered First Round exits in his last three outings.

Winner of the Bahrain Masters and a Euro Tour title this year, Smith will be determined not to come unstuck against a player who has enjoyed a timely return to form in recent weeks.

Rydz is bidding to record his first win in this event at the third time of asking and began last month in dream fashion by winning Players Championship 19.

Two former finalists raise the curtain on the competition as Dirk van Duijvenbode faces Brendan Dolan.

Van Duijvenbode, the 2020 runner-up, has suffered back-to-back First Round exits in Leicester and has twice been denied in last-leg deciders in European Tour finals this season.

Dolan has become synonymous with this event since hitting an historic first double-start nine-darter in Dublin 12 years ago en route to the final, but has not won a match in the Grand Prix since 2016.

The Northern Irishman notably enjoyed a sensational scalp of Michael van Gerwen in the opening round of July’s World Matchplay before being thrashed 11-1 by Damon Heta in the Last 16.

Reigning World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall faces a formidable opener against an in-form Stephen Bunting.

Aspinall secured his second major title in Blackpool earlier this summer to add to his 2019 UK Open triumph, and the Stockport star will be determined to go one better than his runner-up spot here 12 months ago.

Bunting heads to Leicester in a sparkling spell of form, having reached the final of the German Darts Open, as well as the Semi-Finals of a ProTour event last week, registering a host of ton-plus averages over the three days in Barnsley.

Gary Anderson aims to pick up from where he left off in Barnsley last week when he starts out against world number 18 Jose De Sousa.

Anderson scooped his second Players Championship title of the year following a series of vintage displays, marking a perfection preparation for his 14th World Grand Prix campaign.

Runner-up in Dublin in 2016, the Flying Scotsman has also reached the final of the PDC World Cup this term and is eyeing a return to the world’s top 16.

De Sousa, meanwhile, makes his fourth Grand Prix appearance and is out to reach Round Two for just the second time, having reached a ProTour final this year despite dropping out of the top 16.

The final match of the evening sees former World Champion Rob Cross take on current UK Open champion Andrew Gilding.

Cross picked up back-to-back World Series titles in New Zealand and Australia in August and has also claimed his first Euro Tour title this season, but is yet to progress beyond the Second Round of this event in six previous appearances.

Gilding enjoyed a fairy-tale triumph in Minehead back in March to become the latest new winner of a major title, and the 52-year-old is now making just his fourth appearance in this event since 2014.

James Wade, the 2007 and 2010 Grand Prix champion, opens up with a clash against German Darts Open winner Krzysztof Ratajski.

Wade has been an ever-present in this tournament since 2005 and is one of only three multiple World Grand Prix champions, but has failed to surpass the Second Round stage since finishing runner-up in 2014.

Wade, who also hit a nine-darter that year, is vying to retain his place in the elite top 16 – where he has been a mainstay for the past 18 years.

Ratajski, quarter-finalist here two years ago, claimed his second Euro Tour title in Jena last month and has also picked up a Players Championship title this season.

Raymond van Barneveld marks his return to the World Grand Prix for the first time since 2018 with a tie against German number two Martin Schindler.

Van Barneveld was beaten in back-to-back Grand Prix finals by Phil Taylor in 2008 and 2009 and has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance over the past 18 months, reaching the Semi-Finals of the Grand Slam and climbing back into the world’s top 32.

Schindler is set for his second success Grand Prix appearance, having lost out to Gerwyn Price on debut 12 months ago, and has since reached the Semi-Finals of the World Cup alongside Gabriel Clemens, as well as the Semi-Finals of a Euro Tour event.

The action gets under way from 6pm BST, with First Round matches to be 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 they can begin scoring in each leg.


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Boylesports World Grand Prix 2023 Day One Schedule

Monday October 2

First Round

Dirk van Duijvenbode v Brendan Dolan
Jose de Sousa v Gary Anderson
Krzysztof Ratajski v James Wade
Martin Schindler v Raymond van Barneveld
Nathan Aspinall v Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price v Danny Noppert
Michael Smith v Callan Rydz
Rob Cross v Andrew Gilding

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