The PDC’s only event that is not ‘straight start’ 501, The World Grand Prix, is unique and, as a result, is beloved by many. Combined with its Dublin* home, and history of early-round shocks, the double start format ensures that there is always something to talk about and that the atmosphere is different to that of the other major events.
Despite these distinct features, there are very few names on the Trophy itself. Phil Taylor collected 11 titles, during his dominant spells, yet even he was unable to put together a run of more than three in a row. Other than The Power only MVG has managed more than two crowns.
Yet the array of those who have reached the final is perhaps the best measure of the reason the WGP still holds a fascination.
Shayne Burgess, Roland Scholten, Harrington, Warriner, Part and Barney all featured early on, but it’s players like Brendan Dolan and Dave Chisnall, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Merv King’s comeback run that demonstrate how the event can change lives and secure careers.
Other players have broken through or grabbed attention at the WGP. John Henderson gave perhaps the best examples of his huge talent, prior to the recent World Cup, with his run in 2011 and his later defeat of MVG (in his pomp). Mark Hylton reached the Qtr finals during the same time, Richard North also grabbed the spotlight.
The event being staged away from the usual UK venues, but without the logistical stresses and strains of complex travel, and with a pair of Pro Tours attached, lent the event a different nature to the other majors. Newly qualified players had time to settle and enjoy the experience often staying with a group of their peers for some of the time.
As one may expect the hospitality and friendly nature of Dublin and Ireland also plays a role. Returning players often met the same fans, friends, staff and officials for many years in succession. Familiarity breeds relaxation and comfortable players often produce their best.
This year is particularly difficult to predict and we may see shocks aplenty or none at all. Only two players have ever retained the title, MVG is returning to form. Wright has begun to develop a method of producing his best at the biggest events and Price is looking devastating in ranking events.
So, seeds falling everywhere or business as usual? At the WGP neither would be a surprise.
Roll of Honour
1998 Phil Taylor def Rod Harrington 13-8
1999 Phil Taylor def Shayne Burgess 6-1
2000 Phil Taylor def Shayne Burgess 6-1
2001 Alan Warriner def Roland Scholten 8-2
2002 Phil Taylor def John Part 7-3
2003 Phil Taylor def John Part 7-2
2004 Colin Lloyd def Alan Warriner 7-3
2005 Phil Taylor def Colin Lloyd 7-1
2006 Phil Taylor def Terry Jenkins 7-4
2007 James Wade def Terry Jenkins 6-3
2008 Phil Taylor def Raymond van Barneveld 6-2
2009 Phil Taylor def Raymond van Barneveld 6-3
2010 James Wade def Adrian Lewis 6-2
2011 Phil Taylor def Brendan Dolan 6-3
2012 Michael van Gerwen def Mervyn King 6-4
2013 Phil Taylor def Dave Chisnall 6-0
2014 Michael van Gerwen def James Wade 5-3
2015 Robert Thornton def Michael van Gerwen 5-4
2016 Michael van Gerwen def Gary Anderson 5-2
2017 Daryl Gurney def Simon Whitlock 5-4
2018 Michael van Gerwen def Peter Wright 5-2
2019 Michael van Gerwen def Dave Chisnall 5-2
2020 Gerwyn Price def Dirk van Duijvenbode 5-2
AIM Adjuster with additional material from JR Lott
Lead Image: Lawrence Lustig (PDC)
* The WGPs of 2020 and 2021 have been held at the Morningside Arena in Leister due to Covid-19 complications