The 2016 Grand Slam of Darts gets underway in Wolverhampton this weekend and the big man Michael van Gerwen is, of course, favourite to win.
The Grand Slam pools all the winners of the PDC tournaments over the past year together for a round-robin and knock-out tournament over eight days of darts action.
Thirty-two players, including eight BDO qualifiers, compete for the €112,000 winner’s cheque.
This year 10 different nationalities are represented in the Grand Slam of Darts, including Dutch amateur Danny Noppert and emerging Belgian talent Dimitri Van der Bergh.
There are eight groups of four, with the top two qualifying for next week’s last-16 stage. It’s practically football’s Champions League equivalent!
Grand Slam Of Darts Groups
Michael van Gerwen is top seed for the Grand Slam and sits high and mighty in Group A. His toughest challenge here is facing Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan, while German Max Hopp and Englishman Martin Adams make up the pool. Van Gerwen will win this group and at 1.73 is a great bet to win the Grand Slam.
Whoever comes second in Group B will likely face Van Gerwen in the last-16. So, don’t back Wales’ Gerwyn Price to last too long if he does qualify second. Eighth seed Robert Thornton should have no problem navigating he way though Price, Van den Bergh and surprise 2010 champion Scott Waites. Unfortunately for Thornton though, he is projected to meet Van Gerwen in the quarter-finals, where his tournament will likely end.
Fifth seed Peter Wright has a tricky opponent in Australian Simon Whitlock in Group C and the duo will have to battle it out for supremacy here. Canadian Jeff Smith comes over from the BDO and looks likely to finish fourth, although he could surprise Englishman Tedd Evetts, who qualified through the PDC, to claim third spot.
Phil Taylor will be disappointed he has fallen into Van Gerwen’s half of the draw, meaning a semi-final clash is a possibility. But let’s not look that far just yet. Taylor is in an all-English group alongside Ian White, Darren Webster and Darryl Fitton. Taylor boasts a combined 16-5 win/loss record over his three opponents and is 6.50 to win the Grand Slam of Darts.
World champion Gary Anderson has not had the best of years, considering he started 2016 as well as he did. However, the second seed comes into this tournament having reached the final of the World Grand Prix. Anderson is 7.50 to win the tournament and should bypass Alan Norris, Nathan Derry and Glen Durrant without a problem. Anderson has met only Norris on the oche before and holds an 80% win record over the Englishman.
Mensur Suljovic could be the next big thing in darts. The young Austrian targeted the European Tour this year and won the International Darts Open in Germany back in September. Suljovic lost the European Championship final 11-1 to Van Gerwen in a real lesson of darting excellence. He appeared nervous in his first major final and he didn’t do himself justice. However, hopefully Suljovic has learned from that experience and will perform well here. He’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t at least finish second in Group F alongside Raymond van Barneveld, Nathan Aspinall and Danny Noppert.
Another all-English group sees James Wade top the pile alongside Dave Chisnall, James Wilson and Jamie Hughes. Wade v Chisnall could be an epic encounter and one darts betting fans should watch closely. Wade is the top seed and has an 11-6 win/loss record against Chisnall. Wade has won their two encounters this year and is favourite to win again.
Adrian Lewis’ best result this season was winning the 2016 World Cup for England alongside Phil Taylor. He was also a beaten finalist at the World Championship and the Players Championship Finals. Were it not for Van Gerwen, Lewis would have won more world titles this year. He could very well win the Grand Slam of Darts and is 29.00 to do so. Lewis is a good bet because he is not in the Van Gerwen and Taylor side of the draw, so could reach the final with reasonable ease. He should have no problem beating Group H opponents Benito van de Pas, Chris Dobey and Scott Mitchell.