The Grand Slam of Darts kicks off on Saturday, and this is one of those tournaments that the purists love: the cream of the crop from the PDC and the BDO going at it toe to toe. The bookies favour the PDC players to do well, naturally, and so do we in truth. But there is still plenty of value to be had:
Michael Van Gerwen, Kim Huybrechts, Steve West, Mark Oosterhuis
This is one of the groups in which the two ‘big guns’ of the PDC should qualify for the second round with ease. There is little to encourage the underdogs – Steve West is ranked 78 in the world and has never made it past the first round of a major tournament in the PDC, whilst Mark Oosterhuis is the 86th ranked player in the BDO and his best ever performance is a final appearance at the Luxemburg Open.
Both Michael van Gerwen, the best player on the planet at the moment, and Kim Huybrechts – who is on the verge of breaking into the world’s top ten – are streets ahead, and it is hard to see an upset forthcoming even in these short-form matches. The double of Van Gerwen to top the group (2/7) and Huybrechts to qualify (2/5) pays £18 for a £10 stake, and that looks the easiest money you’ll make this weekend!
Ian White, Jelle Klaasen, Martin Adams, Steve Beaton
This is the proverbial ‘group of death’, and it is easy to make a claim for at least three of these players to progress to the last 16. Ian White has enjoyed his best year on the tour this season, winning a few Players’ Championship events and making the quarter finals of the World Grand Prix and World Matchplay. The Stoke thrower is rock solid, and should be there or thereabouts in Group B.
The player that catches the eye is Jelle Klaasen. The Dutchman has won two Players’ Championship events and reached the final of two other this year, as well as reaching the last eight of two majors in October alone. The former BDO world champion is throwing well and looks fantastic value at 8/11 to qualify for the knockout phase. Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams is a three-time BDO world champ and could sneak through the back door ahead of White.
Adrian Lewis, Michael Smith, Wayne Jones, Andy Fordham
This is another group where the big boys from the PDC should progress at a canter. We all know Adrian Lewis’ pedigree as a two-time PDC world champion, and at the European Championships last week Jackpot showed signs that he is finding some form. Michael Smith, a hugely talented youngster, is also starting to fulfil his undoubted potential.
Wayne Jones was a semi-finalist at this tournament in 2010 but is now ranked down at 43 in the world, whilst Andy Fordham – a hugely popular BDO world champion in 2004 – is only just returning to darts after a lengthy absence through illness. The only thing approaching value here is Michael Smith to beat Wayne Jones (2/5) on Saturday.
Dave Chisnall, Peter Wright, Mervyn King, Scott Mitchell
Peter Wright reached the semi finals of last weekend’s European Championship, won a Players’ Tour event the week before and reached the final of the European Grand Prix seven days prior to that. He is in fine form, and looks a good price at 2/5 to progress.
Dave Chisnall is a sublime player, Merv King is capable of great things but struggles with back problems whilst little is known of Scott Mitchell, who despite winning the BDO World Championship in January hasn’t reached those heights since. ‘Chizzy’, at 2/5 to qualify, looks the smart bet.
Gary Anderson, Raymond van Barneveld, Andy Boulton, Larry Butler
Andy Boulton has never gone past the last 16 of a PDC major, whilst Larry Butler’s only major victory in the BDO came more than 20 years ago. Playing against the current world champion (Anderson) and the five-time champion of the world (Van Barneveld) will be an assignment to far for this pair. For punters, there is nothing to see here.
James Wade, Mark Webster, Keegan Brown, Michael Van Der Horst
The real intrigue for punters in Group F is the battle for the second qualification place alongside Wade – who looks a fantastic price of 4/5 to top the pile. Mark Webster had slid down to the lower reaches of the top 32 of the world of late, but a semi final spot at the World Gran Prix suggests that the former BDO world champion is finding his feet again.
But there’s a lot to like about Keegan Brown too; the current youth world champion announced his arrival in the professional ranks with a fantastic performance at last year’s Grand Slam. His opening day clash with Webster will probably determine Group F’s outcome.
Robert Thornton, Terry Jenkins, Geert De Vos, Jonny Clayton
Robert Thornton won the recent World Grand Prix, and despite an early exit at the Euro’s the Scot will be fancied to progress here. Terry Jenkins is experiencing a slight lull in form at the moment but form is temporary, class is permanent; and ‘The Bull’ should have enough to get past De Vos. For Jonny Clayton, despite being highly fancied on the PDC circuit, this is perhaps a tournament too soon.
Phil Taylor, Martin Phillips, Robbie Green, Rowby-John Rodriguez
Defending champion Phil Taylor is priced at 4/11 to qualify from Group H, and really you should stop whatever you are doing and go and place a bet on that. Elsewhere, Martin Phillips is an experience campaigner on the BDO tour while Rowby-John Rodriguez is blossoming after going ‘full time’ on the PDC circuit. But there’s a lot to recommend Robbie Green, who has thrown a couple of nine darters recently.