The group format is now a distant memory in the Grand Slam of Darts as the 16 qualifiers take their places in the knockout phase of the tournament.
Each match is the best of 19 legs at this stage, so the best players – or those enjoying some hot form – should progress. Let’s take a look at the runners and riders:
Wednesday November 11
Gary Anderson v Mark Webster
He’s the reigning world champion for a reason: Gary Anderson is throwing some sublime darts at the moment, and conceded just four legs on his way to topping Group E. His scoring is so good, and his doubling – so often his Achilles heel – looks strong.
It has been a good few months for Mark Webster, and the Welshman is starting to show glimpses of the form which saw him lift the BDO world crown.
However it would be foolhardy to back against Anderson in this one, particularly with the longer format, as Webster looked shaky at times in the group phase. Back the Scot to hit the most 180s too at 4/11.
James Wade v Raymond Van Barneveld
His nickname is The Machine, and James Wade strolled through Group F with mechanical precision; dropping just five legs on route to a 100% record of three wins from three.
For Raymond, darts doesn’t looks as effortless to him as it did all those years ago, and there are clearly frailties in the great Dutchman’s game these days. He had to overcome a huge scare against Larry Butler before progressing as the runner up in Group E with a 5-3 win.
It always makes sense to back the more consistent performer in sport, and so Wade at 8/13 looks value enough to see off the five-time world champion.
Robert Thornton v Robbie Green
After winning the World Grand Prix trophy just a matter of weeks ago, big things were expected from Robert Thornton at the European Championships. He didn’t deliver – partly due to a foot injury – but the Scot got back to winning ways with three wins from three in Group G.
It was job done for Robbie Green in Group H as well; most pundits fancied the Scouser to finish as the runner up to Phil Taylor there.
You’d fancy the wily ‘Thorn’ to get over the line, but a tastier-looking proposition is the Over 9.5 in the 180s market.
Phil Taylor v Terry Jenkins
This is a classic encounter that has been played out dozens of times over the years, but while Phil Taylor still looks a force to be reckoned with at this level unfortunately Terry Jenkins is just starting to show some vulnerability.
The Power eased through Group H at a canter, and in truth he never really got out of second gear. He’s playing well at the moment and looks confident at the oche. For Jenkins, well, you could argue he is lucky to be at this stage having lost twice in Group G; the vagaries of the group system meaning he qualified for the last 16 on legs difference.
This is surely a match too far for The Bull, so instead back Taylor to power through with a -3.5 leg handicap (4/7).
Thursday November 12
Martin Adams v Kim Huybrechts
It has been a fairytale week for Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams; the BDO’s poster boy has been well and truly accepted into the PDC fold. He’s thrown some fantastic darts too in his three wins over Steve Beaton, Ian White and Jelle Klaasen – all of whom are top players on their day.
Group A panned out as many expected it to, with Michael Van Gerwen enjoying three wins out of three and Kim Huybrechts finishing as runner up in his wake. The Belgian is an impressive campaigner these days, and looks set to break into the top ten in the world soon.
As much as this writer would love to see Adams’ story continue, it seems likely that Huybrechts will have too much for the veteran tungsten tosser. Back him at 4/7 to seal a place in the quarter finals.
Michael Smith v Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith has bags of potential, but he is yet to really take his performances to the next level in major tournaments – perhaps this could be his week? He topped Group C with three wins from three; albeit two of those were regulations wins over Wayne Jones and Andy Fordham.
And what can you say about Dave Chisnall? Having hit a perfect nine dart finish against Peter Wright in their Group D clash (which earned him a cool £30k), Chizzy managed to lose his last group game against Scott Mitchell.
He appeared to be suffering from the classic ‘after the Lord Major’s show’ syndrome in that one, but he’ll be back to his best against Smith. Bully Boy’s best years are ahead of him, but he isn’t at Chizzy’s level quite yet: back Chisnall at 4/6 for the win.
Micheal Van Gerwen v Steve Beaton
MVG continues his relentless march to a place in the darting hall of fame, and three comfortable wins in Group A highlight a top player in fine fettle.
Steve Beaton might be slightly surprised to be at this stage having lost his first game to Klaasen in Group B, but victory over Ian White and a narrow defeat to Addams booked his spot. He’s another golden oldie rolling back the years.
But he isn’t in Van Gerwen’s class anymore unfortunately, so expect the Green Machine to roll on mercilessly: a handicap margin of -4.5 looks likely (4/9).
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
This should be a barnstormer. Peter Wright is playing some fantastic darts at the moment, whilst Lewis is still capable of magic performances. This clash is too close to call: so back the Over 16.5 legs at 8/11.