Grand Slam of Darts: Free darts betting tips and group-by-group preview as Gerwyn Price, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright eye glory

Who will win the Grand Slam of Darts?

The Sky Sports-televised Boylesports Grand Slam of Darts gets under way this week and our Chris Hammer brings you his group-by-group preview and tournament tips.

Recommended Bets: Grand Slam of Darts

  • 1pt each-way Michael Smith to win the title at 20/1
  • 1pt each-way Krzysztof Ratajski to win the title at 22/1
  • 1pt Dirk van Duijvenbode to top Group E at 8/1
  • 1pt Damon Heta to top Group F at 3/1

One of the most popular majors on the darting calendar has a pretty different feel to it this year due to it being staged away from Wolverhampton for the first time in its 13-year history, while there obviously won't be a crowd or the usual quota of eight BDO players to try and sprinkle the odd surprise here or there.

Just like the World Grand Prix in Coventry, the schedule of play at the Ricoh Arena starts and finishes on midweek days (Monday November 16 to Tuesday November 24) meaning just one weekend of live televised darts but perhaps the strangest feature is that Michael van Gerwen isn't favourite!

Not only is that a first since his era of dominance began around 2014, but he actually finds himself third in the betting behind defending champion Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright with some bookies at 9/2, but he can't really argue with that given how much he's struggled with consistency and form in comparison to his two biggest rivals. And indeed many others below him in the rankings.

MVG has added 'just' three titles to his 2020 tally of four since the season resumed in the summer while Price has won six in this same period, including the televised World Series Finals, World Grand Prix and World Cup, to take his total to eight and world champion Wright has bolstered his collection by four to lie just two behind the Iceman.

The trio have clearly dominated the 2020 honours board but there's been a total of 17 different tournament winners as a growing number of fearless players prove capable of producing title-winning performances in a year that continues to be hard to predict.

Anyway, I'll try and do exactly that now by running through eight groups and why I fancy Michael Smith and Krzysztof Ratajski for overall glory.

Group Stage Predictions

  • (Sky Bet odds to top groups in brackets)
  • All group games best of nine legs. Top two qualify for knockout stages. Any two-way points tie in any position, the player with best leg difference will finish higher. If two players are still level then the winner of the match between them will progress. There is the potential for a Nine-Dart Shoot-Out should three or more players be tied for points and leg difference.

GROUP A: PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Joe Cullen (7/2 to top group)
  2. Michael van Gerwen (4/6 to top group)
  3. Gabriel Clemens (7/2 to top group)
  4. Adam Hunt (12/1 to top group)

I'm sure there are plenty of punters tempted to back Michael van Gerwen for the title at odds of 9/2 purely because they just seem so eye-opening compared to what they usually are. However, not only have the titles becoming fewer and further between but he's also struggling to produce 100+ averages at anywhere near the same regularity as he could in recent years.

He went on a run of 12 successive games last month without posting one and although he still managed to go on and reach back-to-back European Tour finals, he lost them both to Jose De Sousa and Joe Cullen.

His fear factor is seemingly vanishing among the better players in the world today - especially those in the top 20 - and this group draw has certainly not been kind to him.

Cullen, who also won a Players Championship event at the Winter Series on Friday, will obviously be full of confidence while Gabriel Clemens was one half of the Germany side that beat an injured MVG at the recent World Cup.

Van Gerwen recovered in time to take part in the last two Winter Series events but suffered early exits to Adrian Lewis and Callan Rydz, so he's certainly vulnerable of suffering his first group-stage exit since 2010.

However, Clemens endured a largely disappointing week apart from one superb quarter-final run on Wednesday when posting averages of 112, 108.5, 105.9 and 112.4 until managing 96.8 against the eventual champion Michael Smith.

It'll be tight between the 'big three' in this group - no disrespect to Adam Hunt - but I think MVG may just sneak through with Cullen.

GROUP B: PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Simon Whitlock (3/1 to top group)
  2. Gary Anderson (8/13 to top group)
  3. Ryan Searle (9/2 to top group)
  4. Adam Gawlas (14/1 to top group)

Since failing in his bid to win either the World Grand Prix or Premier League a month ago, Gary Anderson's preparations have been solely focused on adding the elusive Grand Slam of Darts to his glittering CV.

It's the trophy he wants more than any other apart from the World Championship but sadly all these weeks of practice away from may prove to be in vain after suffering a knee injury on his first tournament back at the Winter Series, which subsequently caused him to miss the remaining four events.

Little is known about how serious the injury is and perhaps it was just a niggle that he saw no point in making worse ahead of such an important tournament. Nevertheless, it makes sense to look for value with either Simon Whitlock or Ryan Searle.

The latter performed slightly better at the Winter Series thanks to a quarter-final run on Thursday - which included a win over Glen Durrant - and while Whitlock's sole high point from a disappointing week was a 6-1 triumph over Peter Wright, the Aussie's televised performances at the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and the recent World Cup for Australia have been highly impressive.

I'm still expecting the Flying Scotsman to chug through because I am leaning on the theory that he just didn't want to be embroiled in four long Players Championship days with an uncomfortable knee. He only has to cope with one best-of-nine legs match per day during the group stage and by the time we get to the second round, any issue could well have cleared up.

GROUP C: PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Krzysztof Ratajski (15/8 to top group)
  2. Michael Smith (13/8 to top group)
  3. Jose De Sousa (15/8 to top group)
  4. Lisa Ashton (20/1 to top group)

Just when we thought Michael Smith had finally added some much-needed title winning form to his armoury ahead of another attempt to finally land a big TV major, he's handed a draw like this.

Despite being unquestionably one of the most talented players on the circuit, Bully Boy had remarkably gone 848 days and 104 PDC events without adding to his tally of 10 senior titles - a barren run which included 10 finals - but like London Buses he won two in a row at the start of the Winter Series.

Smith, who has finished runner up in the Premier League (2018), World Series of Darts Finals (2018), World Championship (2019), World Matchplay (2019) and Masters (2020) during a career that has promised so much, couldn't hide his relief after sinking the winning double against Jermaine Wattimena last Tuesday but he saved his best performances for the following day, which culminated in an 8-7 final victory over Jose De Sousa and included a 109 average against Gabriel Clemens in the last eight.

You'd expect him to open up with a win over Lisa Ashton, even though the Lancashire Rose claimed a brilliant 6-4 victory over him back at the Autumn Series and also beat Rob Cross and John Henderson during the Winter Series, but his next two matches should be a whole lot tougher.

De Sousa reached a second final of the week on Friday only to lose another last-leg decider to Peter Wright but his maiden European Tour title last month, when he beat MVG, is still fresh in the memory and there's no doubt he'll be backed pretty heavily to go far on his tournament debut.

However, Krzysztof Ratajski also found form last week after a disappointingly lean run of results by reaching Saturday's final against Joe Cullen, while he averaged as high as 112.5 in one of his wins along the way.

The Polish Eagle needed a run like this to inspire him back to the kind of play we saw from him a couple of months ago when he was so dangerous, while he's also seeking revenge over Smith for that World Matchplay quarter-final defeat.

I'm keen on both Smith and Ratajski for the whole tournament so hopefully they can both get through this tough group and meet again later on for a place in the final.

GROUP D: PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Dave Chisnall (13/8 to top group)
  2. Justin Pipe (7/1 to top group)
  3. Rob Cross (7/4 to top group)
  4. Luke Humphries (3/1 to top group)

The leading trio in the betting don't have much to be happy about as far as current form is concerned, and Rob Cross will be particularly disappointed that he was unable to follow up his run to the World Cup final alongside Michael Smith with any notable performances during the Winter Series.

After losing to Lisa Ashton with an 88 average in the opening round on Friday, Voltage didn't enter the fifth and final event while he also suffered a 6-5 defeat to Justin Pipe two days earlier.

The Force is competing in his first Grand Slam since 2013 after winning through the last-ditch qualifying event and he carried that encouraging momentum into the Winter Series where he picked up six victories in total. As the 7/1 outsider to top this group, Pipe doesn't really have anything to lose and will feel comparatively in much better spirits than the others.

That said, Chizzy's last televised outing was a run to the World Grand Prix semi-finals and although he lacked consistency last week, he did produce a spectacular 121.7 average in a victory over David Evans prior to being knocked out by Peter Wright.

Luke Humphries, by contrast, was consistently disappointing with four first-round defeats in a row after reaching the third on day one, so he's got precious little time to get his game back on track.

GROUP E: PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Dirk van Duijvenbode (7/1 to top group)
  2. Peter Wright (8/11 to top group)
  3. Ian White (4/1 to top group)
  4. Devon Petersen (10/3 to top group)

Peter Wright is as hungry as Gary Anderson to finally win this event having also finished runner-up twice before - including 12 months ago against Gerwyn Price - and he couldn't be much sharper than he is right now.

Having won the most recent individual televised event at the European Championship, Snakebite won 14 of his 18 matches across the week at the Winter Series, picking up his seventh title of 2020 in the process.

Devon Petersen is marginally regarded his strongest rival in this group but the African Warrior seems to have lost some of the sparkle that helped him win the German Darts Championship and reach the European Championship semi-finals in the past couple of months.

Petersen only managed four wins overall at the Winter Series and never got behind the third round, so I expect Ian White or Dirk van Duijvenbode to take advantage and qualify for the knockout stages.

However, while Diamond enjoyed a fairly encouraging Winter Series, I do feel van Duijvenbode is the value call at 7/1 to top the group based on recent results and how he's embraced the TV stages.

The World Grand Prix runner-up proved those exploits in Coventry were no fluke by beating both Danny Noppert and Michael Smith en route to the European Championship quarter-finals while he also enjoyed a string of decent performances last week, reaching the fourth round on three occasions.

He beat White twice during two of those runs and unless Wright wins all three of his matches, whose to say the popular Aubergine farmer can nick the top spot.

GROUP F: PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Damon Heta (3/1 to top group)
  2. Jermaine Wattimena (9/2 to top group)
  3. James Wade (5/2 to top group)
  4. Glen Durrant (6/4 to top group)

Damon Heta could well be the bet of the group stage at 3/1 when you think how brilliantly he's been playing since getting back in serious action in September.

The Australian, who reached the World Cup of Darts quarter-finals on debut with Simon Whitlock, beat Joe Cullen to win his maiden ranking title during the Autumn Series and was then narrowly beaten by Gerwyn Price in Thursday's final at the Winter Series.

Last year's Brisbane Darts Masters hero also defeated the likes of Krzysztof Ratajski, Daryl Gurney and Nathan Aspinall during the other days and he'll come into this group fearing nobody.

The same can be said of Jermaine Wattimena after he reached the third ranking final of his career during the Winter Series and followed that up with a quarter-final run three days later which was only ended by Peter Wright.

Group favourite Glen Durrant wasn't at the races last week as he returned to action for the first time since recovering from the coronavirus while James Wade didn't exactly set the four events he took part in alight.

This is a wide open group where the odds are there to be upset.

GROUP G: PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Gerwyn Price (4/9 to top group)
  2. Ryan Joyce (11/2 to top group)
  3. Jonny Clayton (3/1 to top group)
  4. Mikuru Suzuki (33/1 to top group)

Gerwyn Price is bidding to emulate Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor by winning this tournament for three years on the trot but his first job is to negotiate a group that includes his World Cup winning partner Jonny Clayton.

The Iceman is hotly fancied to top the standings despite the dicey nature of the short best-of-nine leg format but I think it's the Ferret who is at greatest risk of bowing out at the first hurdle.

Clayton followed up his World Cup heroics with a series of decent results at the Winter Series, which included one quarter-final run, but so did Ryan Joyce, who claimed the scalps of Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith throughout the week.

The affable Geordie will also have fond memories of the stage set up here having beaten Peter Wright 2-0 in the World Grand Prix, so don't be surprised whatsoever to see him qualifying alongside Price.

GROUP H: PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Dimitri Van den Bergh (9/4 to top group)
  2. Nathan Aspinall (4/5 to top group)
  3. Wayne Warren (8/1 to top group)
  4. Ricky Evans (6/1 to top group)

Regular readers of my tips may know I have a soft spot for Wayne Warren after I backed him at 28/1 to win the BDO World Championship in January.

He duly delivered at 57 years young and now he finally has the chance of earning a proper pay day for that achievement in this lucrative PDC major - in front of slightly less fans than watched him triumph at the Indigo!

It'll be a tall order given how little competitive action he's played since then but he's still well capable of picking up a win in such a short format, and that would most likely be against Ricky Evans, who hasn't been ripping up trees on the PDC circuit.

It's tough to pick a group winner but I'll give the slight edge to Dimitri Van den Bergh at the price given he beat Nathan Aspinall en route to World Matchplay glory while his superb run to the World Cup semi-finals with Kim Huybrechts is still fresh in the memory.

Posted at 2300 GMT on 15/11/20

Grand Slam of Darts: Daily Schedule

Monday November 16
Afternoon Session (1pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Group Matches (Best of 9 legs)

  • Rob Cross v Justin Pipe (D)
  • Dave Chisnall v Luke Humphries (D)
  • James Wade v Damon Heta (F)
  • Simon Whitlock v Ryan Searle (B)
  • Glen Durrant v Jermaine Wattimena (F)
  • Nathan Aspinall v Wayne Warren (H)
  • Dimitri Van den Bergh v Ricky Evans (H)
  • Gary Anderson v Adam Gawlas (B)

Evening Session (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Group Matches A-D (Best of 9 legs)

  • Jonny Clayton v Ryan Joyce (G)
  • Joe Cullen v Gabriel Clemens (A)
  • Krzysztof Ratajski v Jose De Sousa (C)
  • Michael Smith v Lisa Ashton (C)
  • Michael van Gerwen v Adam Hunt (A)
  • Gerwyn Price v Mikuru Suzuki (G)
  • Peter Wright v Dirk van Duijvenbode (E)
  • Ian White v Devon Petersen (E)

Tuesday November 17
Afternoon Session (1pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Group Matches (Best of 9 legs)

  • 8x Group Matches (Monday's Group Winners Play Each Other)

Evening Session (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Group Matches (Best of 9 legs)

  • 8x Group Matches (Monday's Group Winners Play Each Other)

Wednesday November 18 (3pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Group Matches (Best of 9 legs)

  • 8x Group Matches

Thursday November 19 (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Group Matches (Best of 9 legs)

  • 8x Group Matches

Friday November 20 (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Second Round (Best of 19 legs)

  • 4x Matches

Saturday November 21 (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Second Round (Best of 19 legs)

  • 4x Matches

Sunday November 22
Afternoon Session (1pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Quarter-finals (Best of 31 legs)

  • 2x Matches

Evening Session (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Quarter-finals (Best of 31 legs)

  • 2x Matches

Monday November 23 (7pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Semi-finals (Best of 31 legs)

  • 2x Matches

Tuesday November 24
Afternoon Session (6pm)
TV Coverage: Sky Sports
Final (Best of 31 legs)

  • Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2

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