Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The future of the Grand Slam

As we await the knockout stages, I read something that Mason retweeted earlier in that Durrant is looking at Q-School, which makes perfect sense for anybody given the BDO's relaxation of eligibility criteria. That leaves the question though - if Durrant goes (and you think that if he did try Q-School, he'd get in easily), who exactly is left in the BDO system that would be worthy of a spot at the Grand Slam?

You'd think that if Durrant retained, they'd let Durrant play it, but who else is going to be left in the building? Let's look at their seedings for the worlds and see what the situation might be:

McGeeney's said he's trying. Williams you'd think would have a go as he's still young enough and probably good enough to at least have a chance of saving his card. Harms surely will. Mitchell you'd think would have done so already, but probably has the game. Unterbuchner really ought to given the European Tour. Robson probably not. Veenstra might. Waites, see Mitchell, although at seven years younger he's got more time to have a run. Landman I don't know. Parletti has been in and out so you think he would. Warren, Montgomery and Phillips you can't see it. Mandigers and Day you'd think would go for it.

That's not exactly a huge number of players that are rating to actively stay. We all know it's a completely different ecosystem nowadays, where there was somewhat of a choice to be made back in 2007 when the thing kicked off. Right now in 2019, you'll have three groups of players - the BDO diehards who are seeing out the end of their careers, those that did try Q-School but didn't crack it, and some younger players that are looking to get experience on the circuit, perhaps in conjunction with the Challenge and Development Tours. Which of those groups of players adds value to the tournament? I'm struggling to think who would if we see the expected level of Q-School entrants, at least to fill eight spots. You'll have some decent players miss out on getting a tour card for sure (Jamie Hughes springs to mind from last year), but if someone went for one and didn't get one, what does that say about their current standard?

I'm thinking the tournament's going to need a revamp. If you're keeping the same number of players, then have:

- Top 20 players who've won something in the PDC
- Winner, runner up of Lakeside, World Masters winner and World Trophy winner. Add winners of lesser tournaments (Zuiderduin, Dutch Open, whatever) until you get to four players.
- Winner of PDC Asian Tour, Nordic and Baltic Tour, DPA rankings and the women's world champ
- Four spots from a PDPA qualifier, increasing if the initial 20 isn't filled.

Or expand to 40. Add an extra two spots to a PDPA qualifier, add an extra two spots to the 20 who've won something, two spots to other winners of A+ category BDO events, and two to random PDC tour winners (maybe not the Development or Challenge Tours, as the former's got two spots effectively from the world youth, and adding from a second tier seems counter-intuitive) - something random from North America? The best player on the European Tour rankings not otherwise qualified?

If you do expand to 40, you could either go five man groups, or just bin the whole group concept and have four rounds of Swiss matches. Play eight legs against an opponent, then keep matching players with the same number of legs won against each other, top 16 advance to the knockouts. With everyone in one place there's really no need logistically to have a group stage system, you can accommodate everything by just having an extra session on the Monday and Tuesday afternoons (or Monday afternoon and the Friday night before? Making the Tuesday night the session where everyone in the 11-30 bracket plays off?)

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