2016 Grand Slam of Darts – Quarter-Finals (1 & 2) Preview

The 2016 Grand Slam of Darts has now reached the quarter-final stage with two of the four matches being played on Friday evening and the remaining two matches taking place on Saturday evening.

Here’s the updated tournament draw.

grand-slam-qf-line_up

It’s the two quarter-finals from the top half of the draw this evening and as usual I have previews to complement the darting action.

van-gerwen-v-dolan

Michael van Gerwen

  • Van Gerwen had a convincing 10-5 win over Robert Thornton in the last 16, he pulled away from Thornton by winning 4 legs in a row when the match was level at 2 legs each and never looked likely to let Thornton back in the game.
  • His average of 103.24 in the match against Thornton raised his overall tournament average to 100.08 the second highest of the players who still remain in the tournament (van Barneveld has the highest).
  • This is van Gerwen’s 4th appearance in the quarter-finals at the Grand Slam, of the previous 3 he has won 2 and lost 1. The defeat came in 2014 against Kim Huybrechts when he lost 16-10 despite averaging 103.87. He exacted his revenge on Huybrechts last year though when he averaged 111 in a 16-4 win.
  • He has scored a combined total of 23 180s in the quarter-finals at the Grand Slam over the last 2 year (11 in 2015 and 12 in 2014).
  • Van Gerwen has won his last 17 TV ranking tournament quarter-final matches; the last time he lost in one was way back in October 2013 at the Grand Prix vs Chisnall.

Brendan Dolan

  • Dolan had to come from behind to win his match 10-9 vs Gerwyn Price in the last 16. He trailed 4-0 and 5-1 before battling his way back into contention (helped by checkouts of 160 and 157); he then had to survive a missed match dart by Price before going onto to win the final 2 legs.
  • Dolan had only managed to hit a single 180 in the group stage but he scored 7 in his win against Price, 4 of those 7x 180s came in the last 4 legs of the match (1 in each of the last 4 legs).
  • This is his first appearance in the quarter-finals at the Grand Slam and it’s his first TV ranking quarter-final since the 2014 UK Open.
  • Dolan has progressed further than the quarter-finals in 3 TV ranking tournaments during his career, including back to back semi-final appearances at the European Championship and World Grand Prix in 2012; he also memorably reached the Grand Prix final in 2011.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 15-3)

Van Gerwen has a very strong winning record against Dolan; his only defeat in their last 14 meetings was when he lost 4-3 in a short format World Cup match in 2014. They have only met on two occasions since October 2014 when van Gerwen squeezed past Dolan 10-8 in the last 16 at the European Championship; Dolan led that match 8-7 and missed darts in 2 of the final 3 legs. Of course they played only a matter of days ago in the group stage when MvG ran out a 5-1 winner.

Verdict

World number one and defending champion Michael van Gerwen is a huge favourite with the bookies for this match, an example is Dolan is 14/1 to win the match whilst van Gerwen is 11/1 to win by a 16-2 leg score. Dolan has pushed van Gerwen hard in some of their previous meetings but Dolan was a more confident player back then, the matches were over a shorter format and van Gerwen is a more formidable player now.  It’s really hard to make a genuine case for Dolan to overturn MvG especially over this long format and I can’t see anything other than a comfortable van Gerwen victory.

 

wright-v-taylor

Peter Wright

  • Wright had a comfortable 10-3 win over Darryl Fitton in the last round, Fitton had led 3-2 with a break of throw but Wright came out strongly after the break and played very consistent darts whilst Fitton faded.
  • He has dropped a total of only 7 legs in reaching this stage of the tournament; this is the fewest of any player currently remaining in the tournament.
  • His average against Fitton was 99.69 which is very similar to his overall tournament average of 99.79, of the quarter-finalists only van Barneveld and van Gerwen have higher tournament averages.
  • The finishing of Wright overall in the tournament has been very impressive, he has a double success percentage of 53% and in his match against Fitton he only needed 10 attempts at double to win the final 8 legs of the match.
  • This is the furthest he has ever progressed in this tournament, having exited in the last 16 in each of the last 2 years.

Phil Taylor

  • Taylor had a convincing win in his last 16 match beating Jeff Smith 10-5, he had a winning run of 5 legs in a row to move into a 7-2 lead which never looked likely to be overturned. Although he played some good darts in patches he coasted in the final 5 legs and saw his average drop from 103 to 98.
  • Taylor has hit 37.7% of his double attempts during the tournament which is the 3rd lowest of the 8 quarter-finalists; his highest checkout of 100 is the lowest high checkout of any of the 8 remaining players.
  • Another quirky stat is that Taylor has won the fewest legs of any player in the quarter-finals, that’s courtesy of his 5-0 defeat to Darren Webster in his final group match.
  • This is the 9th time that Taylor has appeared in the quarter-finals at the Grand Slam, he has won 7 and lost 1 of his 8 previous QF matches, the sole defeat came in 2010 against Steve Beaton. Wright will be the 9th different player he has faced in a Grand Slam quarter-final match.

Head to Head (Taylor leads 18-7)

Taylor has a lead on their overall head to head record but it is worth bearing in mind that Taylor did win their first 9 encounter so things have been a lot tighter in recent times, in their last 7 meetings they have won 3 each and drawn a match in the Premier League. Their most recent match was only a couple of weeks ago in the semi-finals at the World Series of Darts finals where Wright won 11-10.

To break down their head to head record even further I have produced some analysis of their last 7 meetings.

last-7-meetings-of-wright-and-taylor

Verdict

As you can see from their recent head to head record the matches between Wright and Taylor have been very competitive and I expect this to be no different. They have played a total of 113 legs during those their last 7 encounters and there is just 1 leg between them. In terms of performance throughout this tournament so far it is Wright who has been more consistent and performed to a higher level in his scoring and finishing. It would be folly to write Taylor off though; he might not be as consistent as he used to be he still has the potential to play to a very high standard over a long format.

I think this match really could go a good distance and might even go to a last leg decider, there should be some value on overs on the total legs market and also Wright on the handicap could be worth looking at. Wright should win the battle for most 180s, he’s among the best 180 hitters in the game and the fact he has outscored Taylor by a total of 17x 180s over their last 7 games backs this up. Finally I fancy Wright has a good chance of the highest checkout, Taylor has only managed a high finish of 100 during this tournament and Wright’s highest match checkout has been superior to that in 3 of his matches during the tournament.

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