The Grand Slam of Darts is set to take place at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall from the 7th to 15th of November, with the very best players from both the PDC and the BDO set to compete. Sponsored by Singha Beer and live on Sky Sports, the competition is the only one in the UK that pitches the best players from both codes against each other.
Michael van Gerwen is predictably listed as the favourite after coming from behind to beat World Champion Gary Anderson in last weekend’s European Championship, and it could take something special to overturn the world’s number one player – particularly with Phil Taylor appearing to be so out of form at the moment. Three-time BDO World Title winner Martin Adams will also take to the stage, along with current Lakeside champion Scott Mitchell, as they attempt to throw down the gauntlet to their more illustrious PDC rivals. All in all it is shaping up to be an excellent tournament, with the group stage adding an extra dimension to proceedings.
The competition was first held in 2007 with Phil Taylor taking the title, before going on to win a further five trophies. The Power has been victorious in six of the eight renewals, with only Scott Waites (2010) and Raymond van Barneveld (2012) interrupting his reign. Waites is the only BDO player to have won the tournament, but he proved it can be done, and he also reached the final in the previous year when he lost to Taylor. Waites won’t be attending this time around, but the BDO will be represented by Adams, Mitchell, and the returning Andy Fordham.
Draw and Format
Fordham has been off the darts radar for the last decade after winning the BDO World Title in 2004, and sentimental darts fans will be itching to see him do well in the competition. He’ll be lining up against Adrian Lewis, Michael Smith and Wayne Jones as he attempts to book his place in the second round.
The 32-strong field is separated into eight groups of four, with each contender playing each other player once in a round robin format. The top two players in each group will progress to the second round, from which point the tournament takes on a more familiar knockout format.
Michael van Gerwen faces off against Kim Huybrechts, Steve West, and Mike Oosterhuis in group A, while Martin Adams plays Jelle Klaasen, Steve Beaton, and Ian White in group B. The winners and runners-up of those two sections meet each other in the second round, and both White and Adams will have eyes on top spot in group B to avoid playing the likely winner of group A – Michael van Gerwen.
Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall, Mervyn King and Scott Mitchell have been paired together in what looks like a very competitive group D, while Phil Taylor will hope for a more serene route through group H, which also features Rowby-John Rodriguez, Robbie Green and Martin Phillips.
We backed him for the European Championships last week, and he duly did the business, although it wasn’t without an almighty scare in the final against Gary Anderson. The current World Champion had led 10-7 and needed just one leg to win, but van Gerwen came storming back to win the final four legs and take the trophy. Anderson paid credit to Mighty Mike, but also admitted he ‘threw it away’, while van Gerwen said he may have played the best four legs of his career.
He’s back into his groove now after losing the final of the World Grand Prix to Robert Thornton in October, and it will be difficult for anyone to stop him while he’s in this kind of mood.
Phil Taylor is still playing at a very high level without quite hitting the same heights that he’s achieved throughout a glittering career. He will surely win more tournaments before he walks away from the oche, and with his record here he’s bound to have his supporters. At a price of around +350 he’s slowly creeping into value territory, but it has to be taken on faith that he’ll recapture his ruthless best.
A more palatable punt might be one on Gary Anderson, who as the current World Champion and Premier League Champion, showed he was in good form in that classic final with MVG last week. However, one has to wonder how much the manner of that defeat might have dented the confidence, and if he were to come up against van Gerwen again, it could well be playing on his mind. Anderson is rated at +550 in several places if he takes your fancy.
Other contenders from this side of the darts world include the colourful Peter Wright who has maintained a great level of form over the last two years, without ever quite getting over the line and winning a tournament, and Dave Chisnall, who had an excellent Premier League campaign and is arguably playing the darts of his career.
He didn’t make it out of the group stages last year, but the draw has been kind enough to give him another chance this year, and the former Lakeside Champion is worth a shot to reach the quarter-finals at least. If he does get that far he could well end up facing van Gerwen, so this may be a bet to trade out of for a respectable profit before it gets to that point.
Michael van Gerwen to win the Grand Slam of Darts
7th – 15th November
Martin Adams to win the Grand Slam of Darts – Each Way
7th – 15th November
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