It’s Major Time again for Gary as he travels to the Morningside Arena in Leicester for the Boyle Sports Grand Prix, held once again in the UK as opposed to its more associated venue of the CityWest Hotel in Dublin.

This is a tournament in which glory has always eluded the Flying Scotsman, but he knows that the Double in Double out format changes the playing field in a way no other tournament does.

Last year wouldn’t have gone down as one to live to too long in the memory for Gary, losing 1-2 in the opening round against Ian ‘Diamond’ White. It was a case of the opening doubles not quite being as precise as Gary would have wanted to start the legs, which meant he could never quite find his rhythm, even with patches of his trademark brilliance.

Due to Gary dropping a few places in the World Rankings, down to 9th, he hasn’t been seeded for the Event, with only the Top 8 being seeded for the Grand Prix. That meant he could face any of that Top 8 in Round 1, and he was drawn the effervescent challenge of Michael van Gerwen to start his campaign. The two have shared many gripping games on the big stage, but their biggest match at the Grand Prix was back in 2016, when they faced off in the final, as MvG defeated Gary 2-5 to take the title.

Not only is Gary looking to win his first Grand Prix, he also knows a spot at the Grand Slam is on the line, with him not qualified at present due to failing to reach a major final in the last year.

That said, he can only take it one match at a time, and he’ll have to find some of his highest gears to topple the Dutchman. Interestingly, Darts Orakel released the stats of all of the Grand Prix competitors’ success over the course of the year on three main starting doubles (D20, D16, D18), with Gary and Michael’s most successful double from the three being Tops, with Michael only hitting 2% more of his efforts (42% to Gary’s 40%). Should the match follow that trend we could be in for a very close affair, but Gary will also be aware that there are few opponents better than MvG when it comes to seizing opportunities when they’re afforded them.

The match is the penultimate game of Monday’s Session, and will be live on Sky Sports for British Viewers, as well as PDC Partners around the World.

Words: Ryan Segal @theryansegal