Hopp and Henderson can keep up tradition of first-round shocks
Defending champion Daryl Gurney set for early exit
Sky Sports Arena, 7pm Sunday
Phil Taylor's last hurrah in 2017 ended in a shock first-round exit while the same thing happened to Michael van Gerwen last year.
The Grand Prix is the great leveller in the PDC calendar. No tournament produces first-round shocks quite like the Dublin darts feast and there is every reason to think 2018 will spring as many surprises as previous runnings.
The unique double-in, double-out format and the format – a first-round tie can be over in six legs – is a recipe for some unlikely arrowsmiths going through. Max Hopp and John Henderson are two to consider on the opening night.
German Hopp is making his Grand Prix debut but has been buoyed this year by winning the German Open and then putting up a decent fight against Ian White in his first game at Blackpool in the World Matchplay. Then he flew in to Dublin on Thursday and 24 hours later was celebrating a Players Championship success.
Hopp is a streaky player, rather like his opponent Dave Chisnall.
Chizzy is enduring an up-and-down year but three hammerings in three games at last week’s Champions League in Brighton will have done little for his morale. Hopp won their last meeting and if Chisnall doesn’t hit doubles, which has always been his weakness, then the Maximiser could be in business.
He looks a fair bet at 7-4, as does Hendo at 21-10 against defending champion Daryl Gurney.
Maybe a return to the scene of his greatest triumph will bring out the best in Gurney, who has been a model of inconsistency throughout 2018.
But Henderson can cause major stirs, as illustrated last year when he beat Van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld before succumbing to Gurney in the semis.
1pt 7-4 Coral, Ladbrokes
1pt 2-1 general
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