Chris Mason’s World Grand Prix preview: Kim Huybrechts is my outside tip in a tournament which has had plenty of surprises before


The World Grand Prix has thrown up so many surprises in the past, it’s a tough tournament to pick a winner from.

It’s probably one of the most unpredictable tournaments. The game has changed, years ago when I was playing it was Phil Taylor who was dominant.

He’s been replaced by Michael van Gerwen, but you’ve got people like Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, Jelle Klaasen, Barney, Mervyn King, they’re all great players and on their day could easily beat each other.

It makes great TV. It’s a different format with the double start and it’s what the game is lacking. At the moment it’s very generic so it’s nice to see a big, deep field and a great, levelling format.

It’s very hard to see past Michael to win the tournament but then again we all said that last week before the Champions League of Darts.

I don’t think he’ll even look at a dartboard until he plays in the Players Championship event today.

I think Michael suffered a little bit of burnout at the weekend in Cardiff and he had no answer for Phil in the final.

The signs were there. He had an awful game against Robert Thornton, who is defending the Grand Prix title this year.

He just didn’t look right in that one. He did find his feet on the final day, but I think he’s done so much in the last few weeks that it just caught up to him.

All credit to Phil, he produced a bit of a vintage masterclass and kept Michael under pressure the whole way through.

Michael just didn’t have that kick, that answer, usually he’ll find a little burst of three, four, five legs where they’re sort of around the four visit mark, but that wasn’t there this time and a lot of that was to do with how Phil played.

I think Phil’s going to fancy it in Dublin. He’s been handed Steve West in the first round who has been playing some really good darts of late.

It’s not like years ago where you used to get someone with none or very little experience, Steve’s been around the block and the double start opens it up for him a bit.

I think Phil’s got confidence. He had a rest before the tournament he just won, so that seemed to work for him.

He’s not entered into either of the Players Championship events taking place today and tomorrow, so he’ll have another little break before he plays Steve in the first round on Monday.

In the bottom section of the draw you’ve got Gary Anderson as the second seed.

“The Grand Prix makes great TV and is unpredictable every year”

The Grand Prix has not been a great hunting ground for Gary over the years and he’s been given a first round game against Jamie Caven.

Jamie’s a player who just needs to get on a run but unfortunately he’s just not getting drawn against the players around himself ranking wise to go on a run in a TV tournament.

Also in that bottom half you’ve got Benito van de Pas against Gerwyn Price, Adrian Lewis playing Jelle Klaasen and Mervyn King playing Raymond van Barneveld.

Most of these matches you’d be quite happy to see in a quarter-final or a semi-final.

Robert Thornton is the defending champion and it looks like he’s totally changed his darts. He’s gone four grams down in weight.

One thing we did see in his game against Michael in the Champions League of Darts was he hit loads of 180s.

He’s got a tough game with Stephen Bunting in the first round. Bunting’s just finding some form again I think, but that bottom half is an absolute minefield.

I think you could look at someone like Kim Huybrechts who has been flying, but again he’s been handed a toughie in the first round in Ian White, which is another 50-50 game for me.

I think from the second round onwards it will open up a little bit because there’s so many potential first round games which could really go either way.

It’s a bit like in the World Matchplay, I fancied Daryl Gurney to have a run but he just couldn’t get over the first round.

I think this one is exactly that type of tournament, whoever gets over the first round nerves could go on a run. It’s a dodgy format the double start and it’s thrown up so many surprises in the past.

Phil’s lost in the first round in the Grand Prix four times before I think.

Andy Callaby was one, that was a bit of a shock and Adrian Gray beat him in the first round as well.

My best run in the Grand Prix was to the quarter-finals. It didn’t really bother me the double start.

“The new players don’t play double start so might find it daunting to start”

A lot of league darts I played in growing up was double start and in the North American Open that was double start.

Most of the old guard are fairly used to it. The new players don’t play any double start so they might find it a bit daunting to start with, especially in a short race, the best of three sets in the first round. It could quite easily be all over before it has started.

It’s a tough tournament to pick a winner, but maybe Taylor, who’s the fourth seed and the second favourite, could do it.

You don’t want to pick Michael because he’s such a short price. I think 11/10 is the best price I’ve seen for him so far.

I’m going to look at someone like Huybrechts, who is around 50/1, as an outsider.

I’ve tipped Gerwyn Price many times before, and Benito many times before, the two of them have been drawn against each other in the first round.

Whoever comes out of that one they are in that little section which is a lovely section be in, it’s not the strongest quarter in the draw.

It’s a great opportunity for any one of those lads to have a good run, but for me Huybrechts is showing great form of late and I think he could get on a run and have a good week. I’ve definitely put the curse on him now!


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