Another week, another darts tournament, another win for Michael van Gerwen. The Dutchman secured his twenty-fourth tournament win of 2016, and a cheque for £100,000 with a 16-8 win over James Wade in the Grand Slam of Darts, retaining the trophy he won for the first time last November.
Sunday saw the semi-finals and the final played in one day, with van Gerwen facing off against the flamboyant Scotsman, Peter Wright. The last sixteen matches between the pair had ended in victory for the reigning champion, and van Gerwen was in excellent form from the start, checking out 126 on the bull in the first leg, but Wright managed to keep the game close, with the two players sharing the first sixteen legs. After this, the Dutchman’s robotic scoring prowess came to the fore, producing a ten-dart leg as he was victorious 16-10, with an average of 111. Wade started as the outsider in his semi against the newly bespectacled Gary Anderson, with the reigning world champion just falling short 16-14, as Wade reached his first televised final of 2016.
The unique selling point of the Grand Slam is that it is the only tournament that brings together players from both sides of the darting divide, with the Professional Darts Corporation inviting over eight players from the British Darts Organisation. Much is made of the difference in quality between the two organisations, with the extra prize money available in the PDC meaning may players can afford to go full-time, whereas those in the BDO usually have to work to supplement their earnings.
The only BDO player to win the Grand Slam was Scott Waites in 2010, and the reigning BDO world champion will have been disappointed with his performance here, as he lost all three of his group matches, as his lack of competitive action in 2016 showed with some rusty performances. Lakeside stalwart Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams was just glad to be competing in Wolverhampton, with the 60-year-old being diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier in the year. The performances may have been lacking, but his refreshing attitude on the oche was definitely one of the highlights of the tournament.
There were a few shocks in the first round, with number three seed Adrian Lewis losing all three of his matches, despite averaging 97, 108 and 100 in his three matches. The other seed to fail to make it out of their group was Austrian Mensur Suljovic, with his win against World Youth finalist Nathan Aspinall not enough to keep him in the competition. The winner of that group, Raymond van Barneveld, looks to be coming into form at just the right time of year, with the five-time world champion looking unstoppable in his first four matches, with Anderson, another player renowned for peaking before the Worlds, just edging him out 16-14 in arguably the match of the tournament.
With only the Players Championship Finals in Minehead this weekend left before the Worlds kick off at Ally Pally in December, MVG is once again odds-on favourite to win his second world title, and on this current form, it will take a monumental performance to stop his dominance.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports