Three-time Lakeside world champion Martin Adams will make a highly-anticipated return to the Grand Slam of Darts in 2016, whilst Glen Durrant, Jeff Smith, Jamie Hughes and Danny Noppert will all make their Wolves Civic debuts after being confirmed as BDO qualifiers for the cross-code event in November.
The Grand Slam of Darts, televised live on Sky Sports, features eight BDO representatives competing against 24 of the PDC’s biggest stars, from November 12-20.
However, the biggest story is the return of Martin Adams. ‘Wolfie’ lit up the Civic Hall on his debut last year, winning his three group games against Ian White, Jelle Klaasen and Steve Beaton respectively, before losing to Kim Huybrechts in a thrilling last-leg decider in the last 16.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t just Adams’ performances which were memorable. There were question-marks about how he’d combat the more boisterous PDC crowds but he relished the atmosphere and played with a refreshing exuberance.
There were doubts about whether he would compete in this year’s competition after it was revealed last week that he was undergoing treatment for prostrate cancer, but the 60-year-old has been cleared to compete.
Elsewhere, reigning Lakeside champion Scott Waites will make his long-awaited return to the Wolverhampton stage, hoping to replicate the form which saw him crowned Grand Slam champion back in 2010.
Waites produced an astonishing comeback to defeat James Wade in the final six years ago, and he remains one of only four players to have won the coveted title, along with Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen.
Another former world champion representing the BDO will be Scott Mitchell, making his second consecutive Grand Slam appearance. ‘Scotty-Dog’ acquitted himself well last year despite being eliminated in the group phase, but the BDO world number two will be hoping to build on last year’s showing.
However, one of the debutants in this year’s event will be BDO number one Glen Durrant, who confirmed his qualification by winning last year’s World Masters, where he saw off veteran American Larry Butler in the final. Durrant has won eight ranking titles in 2016 and he’ll be a very welcome acquisition for the tournament.
Canada’s Jeff Smith will also be making his debut, having secured his spot by reaching the BDO World Championship final back in January. Smith will be joined by a further two debutants- Dutchman Danny Noppert, ranked third in the world, and 2014 World Masters runner-up Jamie Hughes, who occupies fourth place in the BDO world rankings.
The final BDO participant is Darryl Fitton, who clinched his spot in Wolverhampton when he saw off Peter Machin to win the 2016 BDO World Trophy, which was broadcast live on Dave. Fitton previously competed in the Grand Slam back in 2008 when he reached the quarter-finals, so he’ll be hoping for a similarly successful campaign.
The full 32-man field has yet to be completed, as PDC players will have the opportunity to claim automatic places by reaching the finals of the Unibet World Grand Prix, Unibet European Championship and Ladbrokes World Series of Darts Finals, as well as at the PDC Qualifier.
However, the current list of PDC qualifiers include; Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright, Raymond van Barneveld and Dave Chisnall. In addition, both Max Hopp and Nathan Aspinall will make their Grand Slam bows next month, having contested the PDC World-Youth Championship final last year.
2016 SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Scott Waites – 2016 Lakeside Champion
Jeff Smith – 2016 Lakeside Championship Runner-Up
Darryl Fitton – 2016 BDO World Trophy Champion
Glen Durrant – 2015 World Masters Champion
Scott Mitchell – BDO Ranked Second
Danny Noppert – BDO Ranked Third
Jamie Hughes – BDO Ranked Fourth
Martin Adams – BDO Ranked Fifth