Once a year in the darting world, allegiances are pushed to one side and players from both the BDO and PDC come together to battle for the Grand Slam of Darts title. There is no longer a credible argument to be had about which organisation houses the greater depth of quality players, with the top tungsten-flingers gradually filtering over to the PDC in recent years. But neither can there be any contending the fact that the BDO does have its own crop of top players. It’s just that that pool of players is considerably smaller.
Those who are invited to play in the Grand Slam of Darts are, however, the cream of the crop, and are more than capable of mixing it with their PDC contemporaries. Scott Waites showed this two years ago when lifting the title in Wolverhampton, beating Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld and Steve Beaton en route to the final where he came back from 8-0 down to beat James Wade 16-12. Waites is undoubtedly the BDO’s success story of this tournament, having also reached the final in 2009. And at odds of 50.0 for this year’s title he is once again considerably overpriced.
Of course the betting favourite before an arrow is thrown in anger has to be world number one Phil Taylor. The Power is the only man, other than Waites, to lift this trophy having won it in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. He doesn’t arrive in Wolverhampton in the greatest of form, having lost in the quarter-finals of the European Championships and Last 16 of the World Grand Prix in his two most recent televised appearances, but he did win the internet-streamed Championship League last week.
At odds of 2.50, a man as dominant in his sport as Taylor is always going to offer value. But it’s not for me this time. The Power has made no secret of the fact that his aim for this year is to regain the world title and although he can win tournaments without being at his very best, he won’t want his game to peak now, six weeks before going to Alexandra Palace.
World Champion Adrian Lewis is the second-favourite in the betting, but it’s been a long and fruitless season for Jackpot and he can’t be backed at 10.00. Next, in what is a real shake-up for the bookmakers, come in-form duo Simon Whitlock (11.00) and Michael van Gerwen (12.00). Between them Whitlock and Van Gerwen have won each of the last four Players Championship events and each of the last two televised majors. And in doing so have replaced Gary Anderson (17.00) and James Wade (15.00) in the bookmakers’ reckonings at the top of the betting.
However, with Taylor, Whitlock, Van Gerwen and Wade all in the top half of the draw, it really opens up the bottom half for an outsider to at least make a run to the final and provide a good value each-way bet. And I’m happy to take Wes Newton to be that man. The Warrior has reached the final and a semi-final of the last two televised tournaments and is the strong 2.55 favourite to top a group that includes Terry Jenkins and BDO players Wesley Harms and Martin Phillips.
Newton hasn’t been afraid to get the job done in recent tournaments, and has added a ruthless streak to his game of late. It is that newfound callous nature at the oche that should see him go on to multiple major successes in his career.
Newton to win Group G at 2.55
Newton to win Grand Slam of Darts at 23.00