It may lack the prestige of the World Championships and the prize money of the World Series, but for many in the world of darts the Grand Slam is one of the premier events on the circuit. This is the only time that PDC and BDO players get to lock horns, so the players love it and so should punters, in truth.
The action gets underway on Saturday at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall, and the group stages look particularly appetising:
Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross, Joe Murnan, Ross Montgomery
Michael van Gerwen is seeking a double hat-trick this week, of sorts. He is a two-time Grand Slam champion and will be desperate to make it three, and is going for his third title in a matter of weeks after victories in the European Championship and World Series Finals in the past fortnight alone.
MVG will take some stopping in Wolverhampton, and he should qualify for ease from Group A with Rob Cross – a fine young talent who is starting to blossom on the big stage.
Joe Murnan is a capable player but has never set the world alight, while the BDO’s Ross Montgomery looks mightily over-matched here. We’re putting together a Grand Slam of Darts accumulator, and we’ll add ‘Rob Cross to qualify’ as the first leg at 2/7.
Raymond van Barneveld, Gerwyn Price, Jamie Hughes, Steve Lennon
This is an intriguing group, and we would expect Raymond van Barneveld to top the pile assuming he comes here in motivated fashion. The fact he has reached the knockout stage of the competition in each of the past three years suggests it’s an event he likes.
And then there could be a tussle for second between Gerwyn Price, the talented Welshman, and local boy Jamie Hughes.
Hughes was born in Cannock and still resides in Tipton, so enjoys a huge following at the Civic Hall, and that helped him to the second round of last year’s Grand Slam where he lost agonisingly 9-10 to Chris Dobey. He had topped his group too, beating Dave Chisnall 5-1 along the way, and his odds of 7/4 to qualify are a tempting single play.
As for the acca, let’s add ‘Steve Lennon not to qualify’ at 1/6 – he looks outmatched here.
Phil Taylor, James Wade, Robbie Green, Peter Machin
There’s not much to say here, if truth be told. Phil Taylor hasn’t played competitive darts for a while but should still win all three of his matches. James Wade reached the semi-finals of the World Series last week and is throwing well enough to beat Green and Machin.
Robbie ‘Kong’ Green is a former BDO player now plying his trade in the PDC, while Peter Machin would the World Darts Trophy in the BDO earlier this year. Both are capable, but we have to back the stellar performers here.
Daryl Gurney, Danny Noppert, Mark Webster, Darren Webster
Now here’s an interesting group….and some interesting prices too.
Daryl Gurney is up to number four in the world rankings after a fine year in which he captured his maiden major title at the World Grand Prix. His form is holding up enough to suggest he will qualify with ease.
Mark Webster has had a poor season, in contrast, and can be discounted, which leaves two players – Danny Noppert and Darren Webster – left to separate. Incidentally, both are priced at Evens to qualify.
The diminutive Darren Webster is an excellent performer who beat Phil Taylor 5-0 here last year, while Noppert averaged over 100 in three of his four matches here 12 months ago and was only downed 9-10 in the second round by two-time PDC world champion Gary Anderson.
Their head-to-head meeting will likely determine who finishes second behind Gurney, and we’re happy to sit that one out.
Peter Wright, Corey Cadby, Glen Durrant, Alan Norris
An appetising clash between Cadby and Durrant will presumably determine matters in Group E, with Peter Wright expected to qualify easily enough.
Durrant is the BDO world champion and a player easily good enough to take up his tungsten full time in the PDC, but he is unlikely to have ever come across anybody quite like the super-aggressive Cadby before.
The Aussie reached the second round of the World Series last week before being edged out in a feisty encounter with Gerwyn Price, and we’re inclined to back him to qualify ahead of Durrant at 10/11.
Dave Chisnall, Stephen Bunting, Scott Mitchell, Jeffrey de Zwaan
Assuming he has recovered from a back injury, Dave Chisnall is the best player in Group F by a country mile and should boss proceedings.
Stephen Bunting has shown signs of life of late, and we’re happy enough to add him to the coupon at 8/13 to qualify behind Chizzy.
Scott Mitchell, the former BDO world champion, hasn’t reached those heights since, while De Zwaan is a young man very much learning his craft at present.
Mensur Suljovic, Michael Smith, James Wilson, Mark McGeeney
This is the ‘group of death’ to some extent, and you can make a case for all four players.
Suljovic is a major winner now after taking down the Champions League a few weeks ago, although a first round exit at the World Series caught the eye. Michael Smith is hugely talented but a frustrating ma to back given his penchant for missing doubles.
James Wilson is a solid pro while McGeeney reached the final of the BDO’s World Masters recently….Group G is one to avoid for punters.
Gary Anderson, Simon Whitlock, Cameron Menzies, Berry van Peer
Just a quick note about Group H: we’re not sure Gary Anderson is all that interested in the event after his wife gave birth just a few weeks ago. The only reason he performed so well it he World Series is because Glasgow is his hometown!
So there’s interest in the resurgent Simon Whitlock topping the pile at 7/2, but certainly at 1/5 to qualify he must be added to the acca.