Friday 10 November 2017

Ten things to watch for in the Grand Slam plus bets

The penultimate PDC ranking event before the worlds is just hours away, here's a few things I'm interested in looking at:

1) Can Michael van Gerwen claim a big TV title?

Sure he won the European Championship, but it was a fairly weak field with a bunch of big names missing. He still got there and you can only beat the players you face, and he looked great in doing so as well as in the unranked World Series finals, but this is a different story - a rapid fire group stage including one opponent in Rob Cross that is easily the worst draw he could face, the slightest slip against either of the outsiders and he could be in trouble. Get through that and he has longer games to play with, but this is going to be tough throughout - the only top 20 FRH players missing are van de Pas, Huybrechts, White, Klaasen, Cullen and Lewis, chuck in the best of the BDO as well and it's not straight forward in the slightest.

2) How's Phil doing?

He's not thrown a ranked dart since winning the Matchplay, and since then he's lost in exhibitions to Cadby, Barney, Anderson and Wright. Not bad players in the slightest, but people will surely turn it on a bit more on the ranked stage, and if Phil at this stage is losing in tournaments he's prioritising, then who knows what's going on?

3) Will Cadby make a statement?

I'm not sure on whether Corey can join the PDPA tomorrow and play their last chance qualifier, but I would guess not, so it leaves this as the last time we'll see him before Q-School (if that's the route he chooses to take). He's in a group jammed through of great players who he'll see (rightly) as his peers, he just needs to do it, then try to get out of the group and go from there in longer matches.

4) How will the BDO players do?

I've touched on this at fair length in the previous post, I think anyone that isn't Montgomery or Menzies certainly has at least a shot at making it out of the group stage. They'll all need to play well, and in some cases play a lot better than they have been doing recently, but the talent and the situation is there if they can put it together. As I frequently say, this is a darts blog, not a PDC blog, and seeing the BDO players perform against opponents I know and have good samples on will always be useful for analysis, and fun to see full stop.

5) How will the "unknowns" do?

There's a few players that have made it, either by qualifying or outright, that we've not seen much of, at least on the big stage - Joe Murnan's been around for a couple of seasons and while he can't expect to advance, would at least like to beat Montgomery and get cash in the bank to help retain Tour Card status in 2019 after a bad year. Lennon's in a group that doesn't have an unwinnable game, and this will surely help him in terms of stage experience before the worlds. de Zwaan's a bit like Murnan in that he's played on the world stage before, but has dropped in form a bit before really peaking this autumn, at just 21 it's still incredibly early in his career and he will be a threat to everyone in his group. van Peer got to the world youth final last time out, and will surely just be looking to get over Menzies and gain stage experience, his 2017 is a lot worse than his 2016 so whatever he can get will be useful.

6) How much LOL can we have with potential rematches?

In their infinite wisdom, the PDC appear to have set things up so that group opponents who advance will rematch in the quarter final stage. This is beyond ridiculous and would be very, very easy to avoid, but they're not known for being the smartest in tournament formats.

7) Webstermania!

Always fun when you've got two players with the same surname face off against each other in a group stage.

8) Netherlandsmania!

As the #1 and #8 seeds, and with point six in mind, if van Gerwen and van Barneveld both make it through and don't finish in the same spot in their group, they'll meet in the last 16, or, if they're both winners or runners up, would meet in the quarters assuming Rob Cross doesn't throw a spanner in the works (or, knowing Cross, the whole toolkit).

9) Can Wade get going?

Interesting group he has with Taylor, Machin and Green, there's little reason why he couldn't make it out of the group and face someone in the Gurney/Websters/Noppert group, and who knows from there?

10) Will the commentators make stupid comments about BDO players needing to raise averages to compete with the PDC elite?

Of course.

Oddschecker is a trainwreck to try to work out who's actually playing tomorrow, so I'll not even try to comment on all games, just place bets:

0.25u de Zwaan 13/8 vs Bunting- he's in form, and while Bunting is improving, it's not enough
0.25u McGeeney 10/3 vs Suljovic - he's the BDO number 1, that is surely enough against anyone that isn't MvG in a race to five at that price
0.25u Durrant 23/10 vs Wright - he's the BDO world champion, that is surely enough against anyone that isn't MvG in a race to five at that price

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