The 2019 World Grand Prix is only a matter of days away and the tournament looks wide open. The unique format of this major, in having to hit a double to start the leg, has lent itself to plenty of upsets over the years. This coupled with it being best of three sets in the first round means there is usually a shock or two early on.

There are so many players playing some brilliant darts at the moment and you can make a case for a whole host of the names in the tournament. The fact you can find Michael Van Gerwen at 15/8 is telling of his form lately and just how open it is. We may look back at the end of the week and all say of course MVG was going to win, he is the best player in the world. But with the format and short games at the start, I would rather look at a couple at bigger prices.

Looking at the draw, there is no easy half of it to be on. Having said that, however, the bottom half is definitely tougher. There are some tasty looking first round matches, including Rob Cross v Mensur Suljovic and Gerwyn Price v Dave Chisnall. Last week, Chizzy got to the Gibraltar Darts Trophy final, losing out to Krzysztof Ratajski who also finds himself in this side of the draw. Chisnall hit a nine darter long the way and it looks like his new darts are really helping him. Before the draw, I liked the look of Price, who is only getting better, but the form of Chizzy would worry me. In fact, I am not backing any bets for the tournament from the bottom half of the draw.

Instead, I am looking at the top half of the draw for my selections. Yes, Michael Van Gerwen is in this half but he is beatable. He really should get through his first two games but you never know in the Grand Prix. He could potentially face fellow countryman Jeffery de Zwaan in the second round who famously beat him in the 2018 World Matchplay. Whoever makes it through that part of the draw I expect to face my first selection JAMES WADE (best price 25-1).

The two-time Grand Prix winner clearly loves this tournament. Having to start on a double suits Wade given his impeccable record on them. It is a cliché but he really is a clutch player. He will sneak legs from opposition from nowhere. Since the birth of his son he seems to have become a lot more relaxed at the oche. His return to the Premier League saw him finish in third place before losing to Rob Cross in the semi-final.

Recently he reached two semi-finals in the European Matchplay and New Zealand Masters. He then followed this up with his fifth PDC title of the year last month in the Players Championship in Barnsley. He arrives in Dublin in strong form and with many happy memories here. With a decent enough draw I think Wade is slightly on the big side at 25/1. His first game against John Henderson will be no pushover, as MVG very well knows after his shock 2017 exit to the Scotsman. If Wade can get past that with some momentum behind him I can see the Machine going far in the tournament.

James Wade - 1pt e/w @ 25/1

My second bet is MICHAEL SMITH (best price 22-1). Surely that major is just around the corner? He keeps knocking on the door at big events and you would think he will go all the way sooner or later. He was unlucky against Cross in the World Matchplay final but it was another impressive run in a major for the Bully Boy. He had some disappointing early exits in the Players Championship in Barnsley last month which may be a factor behind his price. This does not worry me, however, as Smith always seems to put in a good run at the big events.

His scoring power is simply sensational and if he can land his doubles at a decent rate he can beat anyone. He can be such a frustrating player to watch and can be his own worst enemy at times. He works himself up too much over missed chances which he carries into the next leg rather than just forgetting about it. When he is on song though, he is a joy to watch.

He has a really favourable quarter of the draw too. Of course no games are easy but a player of Smith’s calibre should get past Simon Whitlock and then either Joe Cullen or Ian White in his first two games. I imagine he is more determined than ever to finally win that first major that he deserves. He has all the talent in the world and I do not doubt he will go on to win several majors in his career. This week offers a perfect opportunity to get off the mark.

Michael Smith - 1pt e/w @ 22/1