The 2016 Grand Slam of Darts begins in Wolverhampton on Saturday afternoon and the anticipation and excitement surrounding the event is tangible. It’s the only tournament on the darting calendar where the two darting codes, the PDC and BDO, lock horns.
This year arguably sees the strongest line-up of BDO stars in the competition’s history, which will only add to the spectacle. Josh’s Dartistry gives his lowdown on five potential outsiders for this year’s crown.
Glen Durrant – 50/1
Glen Durrant is not typically considered as an ‘outsider’. ‘Duzza’, world number one in the BDO, has enjoyed tremendous success in 2016, winning eight BDO ranking events. He qualified for the Grand Slam by virtue of winning last year’s World Masters and he’s relishing the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the PDC’s elite.
Durrant has been pitted alongside world champion Gary Anderson, German Darts Champion Alan Norris & PDC qualifier Nathan Derry in Group E. It’s a very tough group and the best of nine format adds to the unpredictability, but Durrant is more than capable of progressing.
Despite some rather controversial and scathing comments made regarding the quality of the BDO, Durrant can certainly mix it with the best, and one of the strongest aspects of his game is his consistency. If he can progress from the group-stage, he has every chance of enjoying a fine run in Wolverhampton.
Raymond van Barneveld – 33/1
Many of you may be ridiculing the idea of Raymond van Barneveld being an outsider for any event, but his tournament odds of 33/1 suggest otherwise. The five-time world champion, one of only four men to win the Grand Slam, is in good form of late, having reached the World Grand Prix semi-finals last month.
Van Barneveld is a player for the big occasion and has a special affinity with the Wolverhampton stage, having ended his major drought at this very tournament back in 2012. Barney also reached the semi-finals here twelve months ago and remains a very real danger this time around.
Barney has been handed a difficult group, but one he’ll be confident of progressing from. The Dutchman faces seventh seed Mensur Suljovic, World-Youth finalist Nathan Aspinall and his compatriot Danny Noppert. RvB has only failed to progress from the group stages twice in his previous nine attempts and he’ll be confident of doing so again.
Martin Adams – 100/1
Martin Adams enjoyed a memorable debut at last year’s Grand Slam. ‘Wolfie’ topped his group with victories over Ian White, Jelle Klaasen and Steve Beaton before losing in a thriller to Kim Huybrechts. However, the most refreshing aspect of his debut was the care-free exuberance he played with.
Adams has been pitted in Group A alongside defending champion Michael van Gerwen and they’ll be joined by Brendan Dolan and Max Hopp. The prospect of facing MvG in his current form is ominous, but Adams will be quietly confident of seeing off Dolan and Hopp.
Martin has been suffering with well-documented health problems over recent months and it remains to be seen how this will impact on his game. Yet, he reached the final of a BDO ranking event in Italy last weekend, therefore he comes to Wolverhampton in positive spirits.
Another factor in his favour is that he’s a three-time world champion and knows what it takes to cross the winning line. That experience is invaluable. He won’t be fazed by anybody and when a player of such ability plays with a care-free attitude, it makes him very dangerous. At odds of 100/1, Adams represents extremely tempting value.
James Wilson – 100/1
James Wilson has been drawn in this year’s ‘Group of Death’. The Huddersfield ace will face James Wade, Dave Chisnall and BDO world number four Jamie Hughes in Group G, and he is odds on with the bookmakers to miss out on qualification from the round-robin stage.
Nevertheless, Wilson comes into this event in a rich vein of form. ‘The Jammie Dodger’ reached his maiden PDC Pro Tour final in September, before making the quarter-finals of the European Championship just a fortnight ago, where he defeated Kim Huybrechts and Mervyn King.
Wilson is a very cool customer which could prove invaluable in the notoriously nervous group phase. The short format makes it essential to start strongly and Wilson has a wealth of experience of playing best of nine matches from his BDO days, which gives him a potentially crucial advantage.
It will be a tough task for Wilson to progress from the group stages, but he is more than capable of beating Wade and Chisnall over any format, let alone the best of nine legs. There aren’t many players in the PDC playing better darts than Wilson at present and he presents genuine value at 100/1.
Simon Whitlock – 66/1
Simon Whitlock comes into this tournament on the back of a 10-0 walloping at the hands of Michael van Gerwen in last week’s World Series. However, that result should not detract from the magnificent revival ‘The Wizard’ has enjoyed over recent months.
The Australian ended his two-year title drought by winning back-to-back Players Championship events last month, and given the intense competition on the PDC Pro Tour, that is a remarkable achievement.
Whitlock has been drawn alongside fifth seed Peter Wright in Group C, and they’ll be joined by 19-year-old PDC qualifier Ted Evetts and last year’s Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith. Evetts is a very talented player but having never appeared in a TV tournament before, it will be interesting to see if he can transfer his floor form to the big stage.
Smith should not be under-estimated either, having performed brilliantly to reach the Lakeside final in January. However, he hasn’t competed in many BDO ranking events this year and could therefore be lacking competitive match practice. As a result, Whitlock would be very disappointed if he didn’t at least progress to the knockout stage.