Wizard set to weave his magic
Our Reece Killworth has three selections for the PartyPoker.net World Grand Prix and is taking on Phil Taylor.
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Picking a winner from what is understandably being billed as the strongest World Grand Prix field ever assembled is certainly not an easy task.
Not only are there a plethora of major TV finalists peppered throughout the draw but the double in, double out format makes this something of a minefield.
You only have to look back 12 months for proof of that, with two of the eight seeds exiting in the first round then and a further three just one match later.
Back in 2010 it was a three-two split, with 2009 the last time at least half of those eight seeded players made it through to the quarter-finals.
Of course, Phil Taylor dominates the history of this tournament, just as he does every other major on the PDC calendar thanks to his glittering career.
He's won 10 of the 14 runnings of the event but has also crashed out three times in the first round - to Kevin Painter, Andy Callaby and Adrian Gray - the exception being 2010 when he was beaten in the semi-finals by Adrian Lewis.
'The Power' has St Helens youngster Michael Smith first up this time and, particularly having been stung by his quarter-final defeat to Brendan Dolan in Germany, I'm not queuing up to back him at a best of 11/5.
I've refused to back Taylor at odds-against and been made to look foolish in the past and there's enough life left in the old dog yet for it to happen again.
But though he remains the greatest player on the planet on his day, there are increasing signs that those days are becoming rarer as the years pass.
He goes off odds-on (a best of 1/8) against Smith in his opener and even if he does progress through the rounds you'll get little 'value' backing him in my view.
Indeed - before highlighting my outright fancies - I'm even willing to take Taylor on in the first quarter in pursuit of some early-tournament value.
Dave Chisnall has had an excellent year in the PDC and comes into this tournament top of the ProTour Order of Merit with over £50,000 won.
He made a fine start to life in the Championship League last week, rattling in 42 maximums in nine matches, including 39 in his seven league games.
Lewis and Gary Anderson were among his scalps and while he lost to both Taylor (6-5 in the group) and Ronnie Baxter (in the final), he emerged with plenty of credit in a season which has seen him has really break through in the PDC.
He opens up against Dean Winstanley and would face either Terry Jenkins or Meryvn King in the second round should he progress before meeting, if the seeding runs to plan of course, Taylor in the quarter-finals.
None of those would be easy games, of course, but given the form he has been in the 13/2 on 'Chizzy' winning quarter one appeals to small stakes.
Moving down the draw, there's one name that comes jumping off the page in quarter two and that's Simon Whitlock.
Having come close to flagging up the Australian as each-way value for the European Championship, it was pretty galling to see him win it, though on a personal level I've got to admit I was actually pleased as I'm a big fan of his.
That was the second time in a week 'The Wizard' had finished in the winner's circle on the PDC having also tasted Players Championship success in Barnsley the previous Sunday.
So he arrives in Dublin in great nick, and when he's in a groove like this there are few - if any - better pressure double-hitters in the game. With the format as it is in this tournament, that's perhaps more important here than anywhere.
The main competition in his quarter is expected to come from Anderson and Justin Pipe but neither of them is firing on all cylinders and it could well be that Kim Huybrechts presents the biggest threat, though Dolan has to be regarded as a dangerous lurker having picked his way through to the final last year.
I like Whitlock's chances of winning here, though, so he's in the staking plan at 12/1, while I'll also have an interest in him at 12/5 for the quarter just in case Taylor is banging in the big scores and the duo meet later in the tournament.
My other selection comes in the fourth quarter and is James Wade.
'The Machine' has had a rough trot of it of late with a first-round exit in the European Championship followed by an early departure from the Championship League, despite a victory over world champion Lewis.
I can't get out of my head his record in Dublin, though.
Granted, like Taylor, he's had a couple of first-round exits but I'm afraid that's the nature of this tournament and something of an occupational hazard.
He's the only player other than Taylor to have won here since 2004 and as well as his two victories, he's reached the semi-finals and quarter-finals once apiece.
Raymond van Barneveld and the in-form Wes Newton both potentially lie in wait in his quarter but quotes of 14/1 in the outrights look too big to me (he's 8/1 elsewhere) given the happy memories Wade has of playing at this venue.
Bear in mind the opening four paragraphs of this preview though; that's why we're keeping stakes low throughout the staking plan.