On the eve of the Grand Slam of Darts, I’m going to run you through my runners and riders who I think will do well at the Grand Slam. Rightful so Michael van Gerwen is the bookies favourite, after he was won very TV major since losing to Raymond van Barneveld in the World Championships. At the moment it’s hard to see who will beat Michael over the longer format.
Barring a darting miracle, Michael van Gerwen will top group a, leaving the rest to fight it out for runners up. If Martin Adams has had time to prepare properly for this tournament, then he will be a significant danger, but after his health scare, we don’t know if he has had the time. Max Hopp and Brendan Dolan will need to improve on their recent form if they want to have any chance of making it out of the group.
Runner-up Martin Adams
Robert Thornton would have been the seed that everyone would have wanted to get, the Scotsman hasn’t been anywhere near his best this year. The other three in the group will all fancy their chances of making the knockout stages. Gerwyn Price has had a lot of stage experience over the last few months and has played well, Dimitri van den Bergh has played well on the European Tour this season, the youngster will have no fears heading to Wolverhampton. Scott Waites is the BDO world champions but not sure on how his form is; Waites has won this title before but think it will be tough this year.
Winner Gerwyn Price
Runner-up Dimitri van den Bergh
Group c looks relatively straight forward which two players will qualify; it’s just which way round. Peter Wright and Simon Whitlock have both been playing very well of late, and should have far too much for Ted Evetts and Jeff Smith. Who tops the group should come down to the outcome when Wright and Whitlock play each other.
Winner Peter Wright
Runner-up Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor is the top seed in group d, and I would be surprised if The Power didn’t win the group leaving Ian White, Darren Webster and Darryl Fitton fighting it out for second spot. White will be the favourite to claim that spot with all his PDC experience. Webster is one of those players that just never gives up and will fight till the end of every game, so will be a danger. Fitton, you just never know which player is going to turn up. If it is the real Fitton, then he will push anyone, but we don’t always get that player!
Winner Phil Taylor
Runner-up Ian White
I really like the look of group e. Gary Anderson is the top seed, and if Gary turns up 100% then he tops this group, but he is making the transition to playing with glasses so it may not be straightforward. Alan Norris recently won a Euro Tour event as he continues to rise up the PDC rankings and will be a danger. Glen Durrant is the BDO world number one, and I think he could cause some damage in this year’s Grand Slam, It’s widely expected that Durrant will make the switch to the PDC next year. Nathan Derry will need a bit of luck I feel, as he may require two of the other three to have poor tournaments to qualify.
Winner Gary Anderson
Runner-up Glen Durrant
Mensur mania has been in full swing this year, as the loveable Austrian has risen from the darting wilderness to world number seven. Suljovic will be a big danger at Wolverhampton after reaching the European Championships finals a few weeks ago. Five times Champion of the world Raymond van Barneveld will be a threat to Suljovic, but a lot will depend on which Barney we see? Will we see the champion Barney of the head shaker? Nathan Aspinall’s lack of TV experience is a worry. Danny Noppert has been playing well on the BDO tour, but we don’t know how he will measure up against the very best.
Winner Mensur Suljovic
The group of death!! James Wade is the top seed in the group as world number six. Dave Chisnall is always a threat as Chizzy is one of the biggest scorers in the PDC. James Wilson has had a brilliant second half of the season and should not be overlooked! Jamie Hughes has also had a good year on the BDO tour but may find this tough. Over the short group format, this is a tough group, but PDC experiences will be the key, so I’m edging with Wade and Chizzy to get through.
Winner James Wade
Another tough looking group. If Adrian Lewis was at the top of his game, then he would top this group at a canter, but he hasn’t been, so the other will feel they have a chance. Benito van de Pas has been playing lovely on the floor, but the Dutchman has struggled to repeat that on the stage. Chris Dobey is only of the rising stars on the PDC; the young man has a bright future in the sport, and this could be the springboard. Scott Mitchell played well here last year as the BDO world champion, now that target is off his back he may go even better.
Winner Adrian Lewis
Runner up Benito van de Pas
That is how I think the group stages will play out. Follow me on Twitter @phillbarrs