Grand Slam of Darts 2012 Day One Premium Picks

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Grand Slam of Darts Day One Premium Picks

We’re into November, which means it’s the home straight for the World Championships in both codes, and what better way to warm up for it than the Grand Slam of Darts? The best of the BDO take on the best of the PDC in a format that’s guaranteed to produce shocks, and also entertain. I love this tournament, and I know a lot of you do, too. Where else can you see World Champion versus World Champion on TV?

There’s a lot of action during the group stages, and we’ve got 8 games tonight, along with 16 tomorrow, which is going to be hectic for me, and a hell of a lot of fun for all of us! The big names are out in force tonight, and we start off with a cracker, with Dean Winstanley taking on Kevin Painter. We finish off with James Wade taking on Arron Monk and in between we’ve got some beauties, with Michael van Gerwen facing Steve Beaton and Robert Thornton taking on the quiet, unassuming Ted Hankey.

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Kevin Painter versus Dean Winstanley.

What a way to start the 2012 Grand Slam of Darts. We have to men who were runners-up in the World Championships in their respective codes, with one man looking to make a name for himself in the PDC, and another looking to build on a return to form in 2011 with a strong 2012.

Dean Winstanley is power scoring for fun in the PDC, and the only thing stopping him from going deep is his doubling. He’s playing solid enough on the floor, and his 2012 season hasn’t been bad at all. In fact, he’s qualified for the 2013 World Championship thanks to his solid showings in the European events, as well as the weekend floor tournament.

Kevin Painter has had a bit of a topsy-turvy year. While he wasn’t great in the Premier League, he didn’t disgrace himself, and put some good results together during the competition. It was a good way to start 2012. But he’s not kicked on during the majors, and that’s why I say his form has been up and down. But there’s no denying he’s playing better than he has been in recent years.

This short format is unpredictable at the best of times, but Winstanley’s power scoring is going to be of great help here. They’ve only played each other once since Winstnaley’s move to the PDC, and Painter won 6-5 in the last 16 of a UK Open qualifier. However, we’re 6 months down the line from that, and I think Winstanley has shown that he’s capable of the big wins when it matters, and the GSOD really does matter. He’s a fair price, and I like it. The other interesting market is on the player to score the most 180s. Winstanley is just a shade of odds-on, and he’s shown in recent televised tournaments that his scoring is the one part of his game that doesn’t need work, while Painter’s maximum soring is somewhat inconsistent.

Dean Winstanley to beat Kevin Painter: 4/5 @ 888sport.

Recommend: 2 units.

Dean Winstanley to score more 180s than Kevin Painter: 10/11 @ 888sport.

Recommend: 3 units.

Scott Waites versus Mark Webster.
It’s a case of “what could have been” for both men here. While Scott Waites has had a somewhat quiet year, he’s still picked up tournament wins, just nothing on the majors front. Then we have Mark Webster who is continuing his slide down the PDC rankings thanks to his inability to put a deep run together, especially in the televised tournaments.

Scott Waites had a shocking GSOD last year, not getting out of his group in his attempted defence of his title. But then he went on to win the Zuiderduin Masters just a couple of weeks after, beating the best the BDO has to offer. It was mind-boggling, to be blunt about it. He’s also picked up a couple of lower ranking BDO tournaments this year, going deep in others. The only thing that’s disappointed in the last 12 months is his run at the World Championships, where he made it to the last 16, and then at the World Masters last month, where he got to the last 32 (and it was an event he had won in 2011), losing in his first match to Paul Brown (an eventual semi-finalist). Needless to say, he’s always one of the favourites for a BDO title, he’s just yet to get a big one this year.

As for Mark Webster, where do I start? Yes, he’s a former World Champion, but he’s not made a semi-final of ANY ranking tournament since the end of May. As for the majors, last 32 of the World Grand Prix, last 32 of the European Championship, lats 64 of the UK Open – does it scream like a man in any kind of form? Of course not. And it’s more or less the same for the floor tournaments. He’s a man that needs confidence back in his game.

These two haven’t played each other since 2008, which was a great time for Mark Webster, he was a man in great form. Now, the tables have turned, and Scott Waites is the man that most of the BDO are looking to beat, and Mark Webster is struggling against the big names in the PDC. The bookies have this relatively close considering, but I can’t see it. I think, even though Waites had an abysmal 2011 GSOD, he’s going to be ready for this, and bring out the big guns against Mark Webster.

Scott Waites to beat Mark Webster: 4/7 @ 888sport.

Recommend: 3.5 units.

Jan Dekker versus Mervyn King.

This is such an interesting match. We’ve got young versus old, cool versus a bit worked up, Dekker versus King. Contrasting players, constrasting styles and it should make for interesting viewing.

Jan Dekker didn’t make it out of his group at last year’s Grand Slam of Darts, losing to John Part and Mark Webster, while beating Arron Monk in between. But a year has past, and Dekker has picked up BDO titles at the British Classics and the Europe Cup Pairs. Add in afinal at the Isle of Man Open, and it’s not been a bad year for the young Dutchman. He’s 4th in the BDO for a reason – he’s just playing solid darts.

As for Mervyn King, he’s shown a bit of a resurgence recently. Up until the World Grand Prix, I would have written him off against most of the big names, but then he put a run to the final and looked like the eventual winner, until Michael van Gerwen finally turned up. He’s put in some quarter-finals on the floor, a semi-final at the European Open, and has been nice and solid, without doing too much.

For me, I think there could be a bit of a bounce factor here with King. With so long spent in the wilderness, to then go and make a major final and come so close to winning might just play on his mind a bit. We’ve seen it before, especially when Adrian Lewis picked up his World Championships. In fact, King hasn’t been past the last 32 of the three tournaments he’s played in since then, and didn’t make it out of his group in the Champions League Darts. So that’s a bit of a worry. Dekker has nothing to lose, so I think the youngster might just be a bit of value, and we have to go with him.

Jan Dekker to beat Mervyn King: 13/8 @ 888sport.

Recommend: 1 unit.

Robert Thornton versus Ted Hankey.
This is the match we all want to see, isn’t it? And for all the wrong reasons, of course. It’s not going to be a darting masterclass, but if the crowd are anything like they have been in recent years, we might just get fireworks. Sure, it’s wrong of me to wish that, but hey, Ted Hankey is fantastic entertainment when the crowd have a go at him.

It’s been the year of all years for Robert Thornton. Is the UK Open win bigger than his World Masters win? Well, for what it means to his career, I would say so. He’s come a long way since his UK Open win, taking down a Players Championship event in Ireland right before the World Grand Prix, where he reached the quarter-finals. Right after that, he reached another floor tournament final, this time in Killarney, and just recently hit the quarter-finals in Crawley last weekend. It’s been a great year, and his current ranking of 18 doesn’t quite show how well he’s played this year.

The move to the PDC hasn’t been the great success that Ted Hankey had hoped. He’s struggled on the floor, he’s struggled to even qualify for the European Tour events, and his ranking of 92 reflects that, considering his compatriot, Dean Winstaney, is steadily climbing the rankings. His 6-0 defeat to Scott Rand last Saturday just sums up his form, and it’s not great. That said, Hankey loves it in Wolverhampton, and he goes well here, reaching the quarter-finals last year, even though he was coming into the tournament in shocking form. He’s a man for the live tournaments, as he thrives off the crowd.

The last sentence in that write-up shows you what I’m thinking here. I think Ted Hankey loves the atmosphere of the big events, and the “abuse” he gets spurs him on. While there’s no denying Thornton is rightly favourite here, Hankey has caused upsets at the GSOD in the past, and I like him to do it again. It’s like Brendan Dolan at the World Grand Prix – some players love certain venues, and I think Hankey loves both the Lakeside and also the Wolverhampton Civic Hall. He’s a fair price, especially considering the format, and we’ll have a little dabble.

Ted Hankey to beat Robert Thornton: 13/8 @ 888sport.

Recommend: 1 unit.

Michael van Gerwen Vs Steve Beaton.

I don’t know where to begin with this, to be honest. Michael van Gerwen gets my nod as Player of the Year, as he’s just dominated on the floor and brought it, finally, to the televised stage, and if he doesn’t get a Premier League place on the back of this, there’s something seriously wrong. But Steve Beaton is no mug, and he’ll challenge the young Dutchman all the way.

I’ve got nothing left to write about Van Gerwen, if I’m being honest. He’s done more this year than he has in his entire career in the PDC. It’s no doubt been helped by going back to his roots on the PDC Youth Tour last year, and he’s become far more humble, and found a spark in his game that makes him so hard to beat. He’s 8th in the world at the moment, and it won’t be long before he’s challenging for the higher rankings. Van Gerwen won the last floor tournament in Crawley, and semi-finalled in the Saturday tournament, so he’s coming into the GSOD in great form, even though he lost in the semi-finals of his Champions League Darts group. He’s perhaps the man to beat, and he’ll love his chances.

Steve Beaton has been there, got the t-shirt and has beaten Phil Taylor at the Grand Slam of Darts. He’s one of only a small number of people that can say that. He’s not had the greatest of years, his best result being a quarter-final appearance at the World Matchplay. However, there’s no denying he’s still got it in spurts. But he’s not in the form that his opponent is in, although he did get to his group final of the Champions League Darts, losing to an amazing performance from Jamie Caven.

I would say that Michael van Gerwen is a bit of a lock here, but it’s a short format, and Beaton was the man that knocked the Dutchman out of the Champions League, beating him 6-5 in their semi-final. However, Van Gerwen won their league game 6-0. Yes, it’s not the one that MATTERS, but it’s a result, none the less. In fact, MVG was on the rampage in the group, and Beaton pulled out a great performance to win their semi-final. I can’t get past the fact Beaton lost 6-0 in their first match, though, and also that MVG is coming into this in great form, winning the last PDC major. He also leads the head-to-head against Beaton 6-3. I like the Dutchman here, but 4/11 is no value at all. However, one thing that’s changed about MVG’s game is the fact he’s really going for the double 19 more and more – his cover shots have been amazing. So while he’s happy with a 177, or a 134, Beaton is a man who tends to stick with the treble 20, giving him a better chance of the 180 than his opponent. The fact he’s 13/8 to score the most 180s in the match is very, very interesting. Plus, Beaton is no slouch when it comes to maximum scoring, so we’re on.

Steve Beaton to score more 180s than Michael van Gerwen: 13/8 @ 888sport.

Recommend: 2 unit.

Phil Taylor Vs Co Stompe.
Phil Taylor 9, Co Stompe 1 on the head-to-head. Stompe hasn’t gone past the last 16 of a PDC Tour tournament all year, while Phil Taylor is still playing some great darts, even if he’s not winning every major under the sun. In fact, Taylor beat Stompe 6-3 in a European Tour event recently.

To be honest, I can’t find an angle here, as the handicap isn’t inviting at around 4/7 for Taylor -2.5. The maximums could go either way, and the highest checkout? Well, it depends if Stompe plays to any kind of decent standard. It should be a comfortable Taylor win, so just watch this.

Recommend: No bet.

Simon Whitlock Vs James Hubbard.
Simon Whitlock is having a great time of it with Phil Taylor not winning everything under the sun this year. He got his first PDC ranking title in September, winning the European Championship and the Dutch Masters in October. His record in the last four events is: winner, runner-up, winner, semi-finalist. He’s coming into this in scintillating form.

James Hubbard, the current Under-21 World Champion, hasn’t had a bad year at all. However, his success has come on the PDC Youth Tour, and although he’s playing well on the ProTour, he’s not yet in the same league as his older counterparts. However, there’s no denying he’s one for the future, and he’ll come on leaps and bounds for every experience.

Whitlock is around 2/7, which is probably fair. Hubbard might push Whitlock, but the Australian is just in outstanding form at the moment. I like Whitlock on the handicap, as even though it’s only first to five, he’s just looking too good.

Simon Whitlock -2.5 legs to beat James Hubbard: 11/10 @ 888sport.

Recommend: 1 unit.

James Wade Vs Arron Monk.

An interesting match, with the future of the PC taking on one of the PDC mainstays. Monk has come a long way in his time on the ProTour, and Wade’s form has been horrifically inconsistent, especially considering his recently problems. This is going to be interesting.

James Wade’s in the middle of some bad times. He was eliminated from the Champions League Darts in his first group, had a shocked at the World Grand Prix, losing a match he should have won against Colin Osborne, and just isn’t in the right mental place at the moment. It was a bit worrying to see him in Dublin losing his cool, but it sums up his issues at the moment. The fact he made the final of the World Matchplay in July shows that he’s still playing great darts at times.

Arron Monk is winning everything on the PDC Youth Tour. He’s playing at a level above his peers, but maybe not quite at the level of the PDC mainstays. However, his semi-final at the ProTour event in Ireland at the start of October shows he’s finding his feet at this level. He’s now sitting at 53rd in the PDC rankings, and once he starts getting into the televised tournaments, there’s no doubt his ranking is going to get higher.

Normally this would be a tick in the James Wade column, but his recent troubles are a huge warning sign. I don’t think he’s in the right place at the moment, and this is a great chance for Arron Monk to capitalise on it. Monk’s playing good darts on the Youth Tour, and will come in full of confidence, having won the last two Youth Tour events. His price is big enough to warrant a bet over this short format, where upsets are highly likely.

Arron Monk to beat James Wade: 7/4 @ 888sport.

Recommend: 1 unit.

That’s all for Day One of the Grand Slam of Darts. We have an early start on Sunday, at 1pm, so make sure you’re around for it. Enjoy the darts tonight, as I can’t wait!