The best of the BDO join the PDC players to descend on Wolverhampton for the next major of the darting season.
We start we eight groups of four with the top two from each progressing to the second round.
The first round is best of nine legs, so a fast start is essential during their three respective group games.
It’s hard to look past the odds-on price on Michael van Gerwen winning his third Grand Slam crown given the way he's been performing in recent weeks.
The world number one was largely untroubled when taking the World Series Finals trophy and cheque last weekend in Glasgow.
He looks to be over his serious ankle problem plus family life has settled down since the birth of his first child, so he looks set for another big week in Wolverhampton.
Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld are in the same half of MvG and in truth there could be one final big effort from ‘The Power’ as he continues to scale back his duties before retirement.
Also in the top half are Daryl Gurney and talented BDO player Danny Noppert, who are both drawn in the same group. I’d expect them to be top two in Group D but getting out of that means Taylor or James Wade are likely to await.
However, I can’t see either troubling ‘Mighty Mike’ on the form he’s shown.
The bottom half features Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, Mensur Suljovic, Dave Chisnall plus BDO world champion Glen Durrant.
Anderson hadn’t picked a dart up for weeks prior to reaching the final of last weeks World Series, so is the one I’d have to be going for here.
Wright has come up against Gurney twice in recent events and lost on both occasions and I can see ‘Snakebite’ changing his darts ever so slightly, so it could go either way for him. On his day he can be superb but when he’s off it then he can start chucking darts away in frustration, so I’d pass him over.
I can’t see past MvG in the outright market because as the tournament goes on the format will suit and I think the same can be said for Phil Taylor, so I could be interested in the 10/1 on a fairytale Grand Slam finale for ‘The Power, but I do think there are better opportunities to be had in the Group betting.
There is plenty to get stuck into with the BDO players being involved plus it starting in a group format.
Danny Noppert Top BDO Player (7/2 – Betfred) is the first bet to mention. The Dutchman was runner-up in the BDO World Championships at Lakeside and has recently quit his job to take up darts permanently.
This has been his sole focus for a number of weeks now and he’s a big scorer when getting it right. He is a player of huge potential and I do expect him to make it out of the group unlike a number of BDO players. Plus he’s on to look out for in January at Lakeside.
It will be a tricky test in the second round but if he strikes lucky and faces James Wade then I think Noppert has the scoring power to defeat ‘The Machine’ despite the longer format.
Glen Durrant is favourite for this market but he’s got a very tough group with Peter Wright, second seed in this tournament, Alan Norris and current Youth Champion Corey Cadby, who is ruffling a few feathers.
Considering Durrant is an emotional character and the pressure of one loss in this event could see him buckle.
Group D is Noppert’s group and there’s a bet with Mark Webster to Finish Bottom (5/4 – Bwin).
Gurney will top it, Noppert second, Darren Webster third and Mark Webster bottom is my prediction for this group.
The Welshman has been out of form lately and struggled in the first round of the World Series last week when losing 6-3 by Simon Whitlock. He finished with a checkout success rate of 13% having missed 20 of his 23 darts at a double.
He is better than that but this is a tough group with two rising stars and one steady yardstick in Darren Webster. ‘The Spider’ is the most out of form player out of the four and the odds-against price on him to prop them up looks generous.
Group F is a fascinating one for me because there are three players you can argue a case for qualifying. Dave Chisnall struggled with a back injury two-weeks ago and lost in the first round last week despite leading 5-3 at one point.
If over the back problem, ‘Chizzy’ has the scoring power to blow this group away but I do think Scott Mitchell to qualify (6/5 – Betfred) is a good angle because he’s a steady player, who’ll do things in his own time.
He’s more of a solid all-round player when compared to Stephen Bunting. Of that pair, the former BDO world champion can finish second because I have a fear that Bunting is mentally fragile when it comes to his checkouts. If he misses a couple of doubles then you’ll see that plaguing his game throughout.
The final bet in these markets to look at is Michael Smith to Win Group G (5/2 – Betfair/Paddy Power).It’s a bold shout given he’s yet to really
It’s a bold shout given he’s yet to really fulfil any of the potentials that had his as a highly touted youngster emerging on the scene. However, ‘Bully Boy’ has had a decent year on the floor and he’s been playing well in the last couple of weeks.
Last week in Glasgow, he lost in the first round despite averaging 97.4. The doubles did let him down but not many players would have beat Dimitri van den Bergh on the form he showed that night when averaging 100 with 40% on his doubles. Smith was much better than the 6-1 scoreline shows!
I think this is a bet for another reason too. That’s that Mensur Suljovic can be a slow starter in matches and this short Best of Nine Legs format could catch the Austrian out despite the form he’s showed in the last six months.
Suljovic could slip-up and there’s no margin for error. That gives Smith the edge because he can come flying out of the traps.
Those are the three bets that attract me the most and on the outright market it’s mainly MvG focused but despite not playing as much of late Phil Taylor will want one final farewell.
This could follow a similar script to the World Matchplay that ends with a trophy in the hands of a man who has already won it on six previous occasions.
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