2016 Grand Slam of Darts – Thursday Preview

Thursday night at the Grand Slam sees the remaining four of the first knockout round matches take place as eight players do battle to join van Gerwen, Taylor, Wright and Dolan in the quarter-finals.

It’s a very good night of darts in prospect and we could potentially see four tightly contested matches.

Here’s the updated tournament draw.

grand-slam-last-16-and-qf-draw

Next here are my previews for all of tonight’s matches.

hughes-v-dobey

Jamie Hughes

  • Hughes qualified for the knockout rounds by finishing top of a very tough group which contained James Wade, Dave Chisnall and James Wilson.
  • He was beaten in his opening match by Wade having led 3-0 but bounced straight back in his next match where he averaged over 106 in defeating Chisnall 5-1. He had to ride his luck though in his last game against Wilson with his opponent missing match darts to eliminate him from the tournament, Hughes came from 4-1 down in that match to defeat Wilson 5-4.
  • This is his first time at the Grand Slam so his first time in the knockout rounds.
  • Of the 13 legs Hughes has won in the tournament so far 7 were won on his opponents throw.

Chris Dobey

  • Dobey recovered from losing his opening match of the tournament 5-4 against van de Pas by defeating former world champions Adrian Lewis and Scott Mitchell to finish second in his group thus earning qualification.
  • The finishing of Dobey has been consistently good in the tournament so far; in all 3 of his matches he has had a double success percentage of at least 44%.
  • This is also his debut at the Grand Slam so he has never played in the knockout rounds here previously.
  • This is the first time he has reached the last 16 of a TV tournament, though it is also only the 5th PDC TV tournament he has appeared in.

Verdict

The bookies didn’t favour either Hughes or Dobey to progress from their groups but they overturned the odds and will both feel they have a good chance of reaching the quarter-finals. Comparing the two players’ performances in the group stage it was Hughes who produced the best display in a single match when he averaged 106 in his win against Chisnall but I believe Dobey was more consistent across his 3 matches. I have been very impressed with Dobey over the last year he has a good attitude and a very solid game, Hughes has shown ability by rising high in the BDO rankings and regularly reaching the later stages of tournaments. It’s a tough match to predict and I can make a strong case for either player to win and this could go all the way to the final leg. Over 16.5 legs in the match looks a good bet, also both players are capable of hitting a good number of 180s so that betting market might be worth exploring if considering a bet.

 

van-de-pas-v-wade

Benito van de Pas

  • Van de Pas finished top of his group with 3 wins from 3 matches. He just edged out Dobey 5-4 in his opening match having seen a 4-0 lead disappear, the next two matches were more straightforward as he dropped just 3 legs overall in accounting for both Scott Mitchell and Adrian Lewis.
  • He averaged over 100 in his win against Lewis and might also have done in his matches against Dobey and Mitchell but for scrappy final legs that dragged his average down. For instance against Mitchell he was averaging around a 108 after the penultimate leg but a 24 dart final leg brought his final average way down.
  • Overall his doubling in the group matches was amongst the best of all players; his double success percentage of 53.57% was only bettered by van Barneveld and Noppert.
  • Van de Pas will be aiming to qualify for his 4th TV quarter-final, most recently he appeared in the quarter-finals at the World Grand Prix and the World Series of Darts finals.

James Wade

  • Wade qualified in 2nd place from a tough group containing Dave Chisnall, James Wilson and Jamie Hughes. He had to come from behind in his first two matches before winning 5-3 in both (he was 3-0 behind before winning against Hughes and 2-0 behind before winning against Wilson). He lost his final group match against Chisnall in a good quality match, that defeat meant Wade had to settle for 2nd place in the group.
  • In the group matches his match average increased with every game, going from 91.31 to 95.85 to 100.58. Ironically though the highest average was the match in which he lost.
  • Wade is no stranger to the knockout stages of the Grand Slam having qualified 8 times previously from his group, his record at this stage of the tournament is not good however as he has only won 2 of his 8 games in the last 16 at the Grand Slam. The last 5 defeats for Wade in the last 16 came against van Barneveld, Bunting, Gary Anderson (twice) and Terry Jenkins.
  • He reached the semi-finals at the European Championship only a matter of weeks ago, that was only second time he has made it through to a TV ranking quarter-final from the last 9 TV ranking tournaments.

Verdict

This is the second televised meeting between van de Pas and Wade in November with van de Pas taking the honours in their recent encounter at the World Series of Darts finals, in that match Wade led 5-3 and missed match darts as van de Pas won 3 legs in a row to win 6-5. Although Wade leads their overall head to head record van de Pas has won 3 of their last 4 matches. Their only previous meeting in a TV ranking tournament came last November at the Players Championship finals when van de Pas won 10-3 in a match where Wade averaged 100 and van de Pas averaged 105.

Wade starts at the favourite which is no real surprise given his undoubted quality and pedigree but make no mistake van de Pas is a big threat, he has wins against Wade on the TV stage and is showing more composure on the big stage with each match. I think this could be 10-8 or 10-9 to either player. From a betting point of view I think over 16.5 legs in the match, Benito van de Pas +2.5 legs and a high checkout of over 128.5 are potential things to look at.

 

anderson-v-noppert

Gary Anderson

  • Anderson won 3 out of 3 matches to finish top of his group to qualify for the knockout rounds. He won 5-4 in a very tough opener against Glen Durrant in which all 9 legs went with throw before beating Derry and Norris 5-0 and 5-2 respectively.
  • His overall double success percentage is a respectable 41.67% but if you take his double attempts from his wins against Durrant and Norris alone he hit 10 out of 15 attempts (66.67% success). His overall percentage affected by lots of missed doubles when not under any real pressure against Derry in the match he won 5-0.
  • Anderson has never failed to reach the knockout stages at the Grand Slam, so has featured in this round 9 times previously. He has exited the tournament in the last 16 in each of the last 4 years having not gone any further since 2011 which was the year he reached the final.

 Danny Noppert

  • Noppert finished 2nd in his group behind van Barneveld but ahead of the number 7 seed Mensur Suljovic. It was his opening match vs Suljovic that set up Noppert for qualification; he averaged over 101 and hit 5 of his 7 double attempts to defeat Suljovic 5-3. Against van Barneveld he lost 5-2 but averaged nearly 104. In his final match against Aspinall he won 5 straight legs from 2-0 down.
  • Of the players who qualified from the group stage only van Barneveld and Wright had higher tournament averages than Noppert’s average of 98.08.
  • His finishing throughout the tournament so far has been very impressive having needed just 20 darts to hit his 12 winning doubles giving him 60% success on overall attempts.

Verdict

Gary Anderson is the second favourite with the bookies to win the tournament and a strong favourite to win this match but he will have to be on form tonight to get past a very tricky opponent in Danny Noppert. Noppert has performed well in his three matches so far and doesn’t look as though he will be daunted by facing the PDC World Champion on the TV stage. Anderson had a poor European Championships and World Series Finals but he is playing better in this tournament and his performances against Durrant and Norris were good. I think Anderson’s scoring will give him the edge in this match and help him create enough chances to pressure Noppert but I don’t expect it to be an easy evening. Noppert may be an appealing bet on the handicap.

 

van-barneveld-v-durrant

Raymond van Barneveld

  • Van Barneveld qualified as the winner of his group; he won all 3 of his matches against Aspinall, Noppert and Suljovic dropping only 6 legs in the process.
  • No player registered a higher match average in the group stage than the 110.15 Barney managed against Aspinall in his opening match.
  • Overall Barney averaged over 100 in all 3 matches and his tournament average of 104.51 was comfortably the best of any qualifier for the knockout stage.
  • Not only did he have the highest tournament average after the group stage, he had the joint highest double success percentage and he also hit more 180s than any other player.
  • Barney has won 4 and lost 3 of his matches in the last 16 at the Grand Slam, last year he defeated James Wade 10-7 at this stage of the tournament on his way to reaching the semi-finals.

Glen Durrant

  • Durrant finished 2nd behind Gary Anderson to qualify from his group. After losing his opening match 5-4 to Anderson he dropped a total of just 1 leg in beating Norris and Derry.
  • Although Durrant hasn’t yet had a match average of over 100 in the tournament so far, in both of his matches against Anderson and Derry he was averaging over 100 heading into the final leg.
  • Durrant hasn’t had his throw broken in the tournament so far; he has played a total of 10 legs when throwing first and has won them all. Anderson and Derry both had a leg where they had a chance at double to break throw but failed to do so.

Verdict

The last match of the round is a real mouth-watering prospect between an in-form Raymond van Barneveld and the BDO number one Glen Durrant. The performance levels of Barney so far in this tournament have been superb and if he keeps to that level he will take some stopping, he looks full of confidence and belief and has the game to compete with anyone when he is in that mood. Durrant has been consistently good so far and still hasn’t shown his best game yet this week, Durrant is confident in his ability and I expect him to fully rise to the challenge of facing Barney on the big stage. It’s just all set up for a cracking match, the way van Barneveld has been going about his business this week makes me believe he will again turn up playing a very high standard and I think he might just get the better of Durrant in a close game. From a betting point of view I think the 180 totals for both players and the overall 180s in the match are worth looking at, I also think that there is potential for a high checkout so overs on the highest checkout score is another option.

 

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2016 Grand Slam of Darts – Wednesday Preview

Following four action packed days of darting action which consisted of 48 matches, the field of players at the 2016 Grand Slam of Darts has been halved from 32 down to 16 and from here on in it’s a straight knockout tournament.

Here’s a look at the draw for the last 16.

grand-slam-last-16-draw

Next is a handy table showing the group record, tournament average and double success percentage of the 16 players still left in the tournament.

grand-slam-last-16-players-group-records

Tonight sees the first four knockout matches take place with the remaining four matches from the last 16 being played on Thursday night.

Here are my previews for tonight’s matches.

price-v-dolan

Gerwyn Price

  • Price recovered from losing his opening match of the tournament to finish top of his group and make it through to the knockout rounds. He lost 5-4 to Van den Bergh in his opener before defeating Scott Waites and Robert Thornton.
  • This is his debut year at the Grand Slam so the first time he has played in the knockout stage.
  • Price hit a total of 10x 180s over his 3 group matches, a total only bettered by van Barneveld who hit 11.
  • His highest checkout of the tournament so far is 60; all the other 15 players who are in the last 16 have registered higher checkouts.
  • Price hasn’t made it further than the last 16 in an individual PDC TV tournament since making the quarter-finals at the 2015 World Matchplay and he has played a total of 10 TV tournament since then (not including this one).

Brendan Dolan

  • Dolan finished behind van Gerwen in 2nd place in Group A, he defeated both Max Hopp and Martin Adams either side of a 5-1 defeat by MvG.
  • This is the 2nd time from 4 appearances at the Grand Slam that Dolan has made it through to the knockout rounds; back in 2012 at this stage of the tournament he lost 10-6 to John Part.
  • Dolan has the second lowest tournament average of the 16 group qualifiers. Only Darryl Fitton has a lower average.
  • He only managed a single 180 score in the group stage, that maximum came in his opening match and he has now played 17 legs without hitting one.
  • Dolan is bidding to reach his first individual TV quarter-final since the 2014 UK Open and only his second since the 2012 World Grand Prix where he reached the semi-finals.

Verdict

This is a great opportunity for both players to make it through to a major ranking quarter-final something which neither player has much recent experience of doing. There isn’t much separating them on their tournament average with Price having the edge on scoring and Dolan having the edge on finishing. Gerwyn Price has certainly played the more consistent darts over the last couple of years and has had some success away from the TV stage whilst Dolan is struggling to recapture the form which saw him have a spell in the top 16. The longer format will give both players longer to settle in but there may still be some nerves, I think a lot will depend on how Price copes with the pace of Dolan’s game especially if he falls behind. My prediction is that heavier scoring from Price will just pull him away and although Dolan will stick around I think Price will win 10-7.

 

taylor-v-smith

Phil Taylor

  • Taylor finished top of his group despite losing 5-0 to Darren Webster in his final match, it was only Taylor’s 5th ever defeat in the group stage and the first time he had failed to win a leg in a Grand Slam match.
  • He has now qualified in all 10 years at the Grand Slam and qualified as group winner 8 times.
  • Taylor has only failed to win 1 of his 9 previous matches in the last 16 at the Grand Slam, that solitary defeat was in 2012 against Michael van Gerwen.

Jeff Smith

  • Smith recovered from losing 5-1 in his opening match to Peter Wright to earn qualification via last leg deciding wins against both Ted Evetts and Simon Whitlock.
  • Smith hit a 170 checkout in the opening leg of his match against Whitlock and also went on to hit the bull on the end of an 82 finish which game him the crucial victory.
  • This is his Grand Slam debut so the first time he has reached this stage of the tournament.
  • There has been a ton plus checkout within the opening 2 legs in each of his 3 matches so far.

Verdict

It would be a big surprise if Phil Taylor turned up and played as he did against Darren Webster in his final group match, Taylor was already confirmed as qualified and although Webster did play well there was way too little in response. Smith has maybe exceeded expectations in reaching the knockout rounds, he came through a very tough match against Simon Whitlock late last night to make it through and realistically he is under no pressure and anything from here is a bonus. Smith is a very competent combination finisher but I don’t think he has the scoring power over this longer format to consistently pressure Taylor. I think it will be a 10-4 win for Taylor.

 

van-gerwen-v-thornton

Michael van Gerwen

  • Michael van Gerwen won all 3 of his group matches, dropping only 4 legs overall, in a group containing Dolan, Hopp and Adams.
  • Perhaps surprisingly for MvG he has only averaged over 100 in 1 of his 3 matches so far at this years tournament.
  • This is the 6th year in a row that he has made it through to the last 16 of this tournament. He has won 3 and lost 2 of the previous 5 last 16 round matches. The 2 defeats came against Ted Hankey (2011) and Adrian Lewis (2013).
  • Van Gerwen has only lost 2 of his last 23 matches at the last 16 stage in TV ranking tournaments.

Robert Thornton

  • Thornton was the last man to qualify for the knockout rounds having had to come through a 9 dart decider against Dimitri Van den Bergh to earn his spot. In his group matches Thornton beat Waites and Van den Bergh before losing to Price which forced the 9 dart decider.
  • He has an excellent record of reaching the knockout stages at this tournament; overall he has now qualified 7 times from 8 appearances.
  • He has won 3 and lost 3 of his matches at this stage of the Grand Slam, 5 of the 6 matches have all been very tight contests; the only match that didn’t go to at least 18 of the possible 19 legs was a 10-6 defeat against Wayne Jones in 2010.

Verdict

Thornton has defeated van Gerwen in a major ranking tournament over the last couple of years but it would be a big upset if he repeated his 2015 World Grand Prix final victory over MvG in this match. As has been widely documented Thornton just hasn’t reached the same levels since then and although he is showing some signs of improvement, beating van Gerwen in a first to 10 leg match doesn’t look likely. Van Gerwen hasn’t hit his peak yet during this tournament but now it’s a longer format and straight knockout he is likely to step it up a notch. My prediction is for van Gerwen to win 10-5.

 

wright-v-fitton

Peter Wright

  • Wright qualified from his group with 3 wins out of 3, only dropping 4 legs in defeating Jeff Smith, Simon Whitlock and Ted Evetts.
  • In terms of highest averages by players who qualified for the last 16, Wright’s tournament average of 99.86 is second only to van Barneveld’s 104.51. His checkout percentage of 50% is also only bettered by 3 players.
  • Wright hasn’t trailed in any of his matches so far in this tournament and has broken his opponent on their opening leg with throw in all 3 matches.
  • This is the 3rd time from 4 appearances that Wright has made it to the knockout rounds at the Grand Slam. He has yet to get past this stage of the tournament having lost to Phil Taylor in 2014 and Adrian Lewis in 2015.

Daryl Fitton

  • Fitton recovered from losing 5-1 to Phil Taylor in his opening match to win last leg deciders against both Darren Webster and Ian White to earn a place in the knockout rounds. In his crucial last group match against White he trailed 4-2 and had to survive White missing darts at double for the match in more than one leg.
  • He has the lowest tournament average of all the 16 players who qualified for the knockout stages.
  • This will be the second appearance for Fitton in the last 16 at the Grand Slam; he last qualified for this stage 8 years ago. On that occasion in 2008 he defeated Denis Ovens before losing to Gary Anderson in the quarter-finals.
  • Fitton had the throw in the opening leg in all 3 of his group matches and he was broken on all 3 occasions.

Verdict

Peter Wright has been consistently good in his matches so far and will start as a strong favourite against Darryl Fitton who certainly had to qualify the hard way having to come from 4-2 down in his final group match. It would take a big drop in form from Wright and a big rise in form from Fitton to give Darryl a chance to overturn the odds. The scoring of Fitton hasn’t been up to what he is capable of and if he isn’t at it from the off then Wright will pull away and prove tough to peg back. I’m going for a 10-5 win to Wright.

 

2016 Grand Slam of Darts – Group Stage Preview

One of the most eagerly awaited darting tournaments of the year starts on Saturday with the 10th staging of the Grand Slam of Darts. It’s a tournament where players from the PDC mix with players from the BDO, so it always possesses extra intrigue.

As usual the field consists of 32 players who are split into 8 groups of 4 players, the group matches are played over a short format of first to 5 legs and the top 2 from each group will progress through to the last 16, the tournament is a straight knockout from that stage onwards.

Here’s a look at the groups (along with some stats).

Groups A to D

grand-slam-groups-a-to-d

Groups E to H

grand-slam-groups-e-to-h

Now my previews for each group

Group A

Michael van Gerwen (PDC Number 1)

Defending Grand Slam of Darts champion Michael van Gerwen has won his group at this tournament in each of the last 5 years and hasn’t been defeated in the group stage since losing to Mark Walsh in 2015. He has won 23 tournaments during 2016 alone and enters the tournament having won TV tournaments in consecutive weekends at the European Championship and World Series of Darts Finals.

Brendan Dolan (PDC Number 25)

Dolan is returning to the Grand Slam for the 4th time having previously competed in 2011, 2012 and 2014. His best performance at the tournament came in 2012 when he qualified from his group before losing to John Part in the Last 16. In his other two appearances combined he won just 1 of 6 group matches. Dolan has slipped down the PDC rankings over the past year having previously been ranked in the top 16. He has failed to reach the quarter-final of a singles tournament since September 2015.

Max Hopp (PDC Number 38)

Hopp is making his Grand Slam of Darts debut at this year’s tournament. He won the PDC World Youth Championship last December thus earning qualification for this event. His best performances on the PDC tour this season so far have been two quarter-final appearances.

Martin Adams (BDO Number 5)

Three time BDO World Champion Martin Adams returns to the Grand Slam for the second consecutive year. He previously turned down the chance to participate at the Grand Slam on many occasions before making a very popular decision to compete last year, he went on to finish top of a group containing Jelle Klaasen, Ian White and Steve Beaton (Adams won all 3 matches), before losing on a last leg decider in the Last 16 to Kim Huybrechts.  Adams is currently battling prostate cancer and has played with a more limited schedule in the last few months.

Verdict

I fully expect van Gerwen to finish top of the group leaving the other three players to battle it out for second place. Adams certainly has the calibre to join van Gerwen in the knockout rounds and if he turns up playing to a similar level that he did last year then he will make it through, there is always the question mark over how much his ongoing treatment will affect his performance and he hasn’t been playing as much competitive darts recently but I’m going for van Gerwen and Adams to progress.

 

Group B

Robert Thornton (PDC Number 8)

Runner-up at the Grand Slam in 2013, Thornton has competed at the Grand Slam on 7 previous occasions and has only once failed to qualify from his group. Last year he finished the group stage with 3 wins out of 3 in a group containing Terry Jenkins, Geert de Vos and Jonny Clayton, he then reached the quarter-finals where he lost to Phil Taylor. Although Thornton is ranked in the top 8 of the PDC ranking he has only reached one ranking quarter-final during this season.

Gerwyn Price (PDC Number 20)

Price is making his debut at the tournament having qualified courtesy of winning 2 ProTour ranking tournaments during this season.  Both of the tournament wins came during May, but since then he has failed to make it past the quarter-final stage in a ranking tournament. His best run in a TV tournament came at the 2015 World Matchplay when he reached the quarter-finals.

Dimitri Van den Bergh (PDC Number 56)

Van den Bergh is another Grand Slam debutant. He came through the PDC Grand Slam of Darts qualifying tournament where he defeated Joe Murnan, Paul Milford, Ryan Palmer and Michael Mansell to win a spot in the tournament. On the PDC tour this season he reached the semi-finals of a Players Championship tournament in September. He has limited experience in big TV tournaments but did defeat Ian White on his World Championship debut last December.

Scott Waites (BDO Number 7)

After an absence in 2015 the current BDO World Champion Scott Waites returns to the tournament for the 8th time, he was the winner of this tournament in 2010 when he defeated James Wade in the final having lost the previous year in the final to Phil Taylor. He has qualified from his group in 4 of the 7 years he has competed at the Grand Slam and has won his group 3 times.  Waites has wins against Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis, Gary Anderson, James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld on his record at this tournament.

Verdict

It’s a group in which I genuinely give three players a chance of winning. Scott Waites has some very good experiences at this tournament to draw upon and as mentioned above he has some very good scalps on his record. Gerwyn Price has made good strides in the last couple of years and is gaining a lot of experience on the big TV stage. Robert Thornton is the seeded player in the group but hasn’t been playing well since reaching the quarter-finals here last year, as indifferent as Thornton has been he still has the potential to beat the other players in the group and he certainly can’t be written out of contention. It’s great experience for Dmitri Van den Bergh just to be in the tournament but I would be very surprised if he was in contention for a place in the knockout rounds. I’m leaning towards Thornton and Waites to progress but in no way would I rule Price out of having a good chance to take one of the spots.

 

Group C

 Peter Wright (PDC Number 5)

Peter Wright is competing at this tournament for only the 4th time having had to wait until 2013 to make his Grand Slam debut; He failed to qualify from a strong group containing Gary Anderson and James Wade on his debut year but in each of the last 2 years he has qualified for the knockout rounds, he has yet to win a knockout round match though having exited to Taylor in 2014 and Adrian Lewis in 2015. Wright had an excellent run to the final of the World Series of Darts Finals last weekend and lost in the semi-finals at the European Championship the week before.

Simon Whitlock (PDC Number 18)

Whitlock missed out on qualification for the Grand Slam last year but is returning this year for his 7th appearance at the tournament. He has finished as a group winner on 3 occasions but failed to qualify the other 3 times. Overall he has failed to qualify from the group stage in 3 of his last 4 Grand Slam appearances.  Whitlock has 2 ranking tournament wins to his name since the start of October and is arguably playing his best darts for over 2 years.

Ted Evetts (PDC Number 109)

Evetts will be making his Grand Slam debut and also his debut in a big PDC TV tournament. He qualified through the PDC Wild Card qualifiers defeating Jonny Clayton, Gerwyn Price, Jeffrey de Graaf and Mike Zuydwijk having only dropped 3 legs in those 4 matches combined.  Teenager Evetts only joined the PDC circuit this year and has yet to reach the Last 16 stage of a PDC ranking tournament.

Jeff Smith (BDO Number 30)

2016 BDO World Championship runner-up Jeff Smith will be making his debut at the Grand Slam. He also reached the semi-finals of the BDO World Championships in 2015. Smith plays the majority of his darts on the North American circuit hence his lower BDO ranking; he is ranked number 8 in the WDF rankings.

Verdict

Wright and Whitlock are the two favourites to go through and it is hard to argue with the bookies opinion of that, Wright comes into the tournament having had an excellent run at the World Series Finals last weekend and as mentioned previously Whitlock has rediscovered his form and confidence. Smith will relish the challenge and won’t mind being the underdog as he has shown at the BDO World Championships over the past couple of years he is comfortable on the big stage but he will have to take his scoring up a notch if he is to get chances against Wright and Whitlock. Evetts is still very much in formative stages of his darting career and its unknown how he will settle, it would be a big shock if he qualified. I think it’ll be Wright and Whitlock moving through to the Last 16.

 

Group D

Phil Taylor (PDC Number 4)

Phil Taylor is a 6 time winner of the Grand Slam and has never failed to qualify from his group in all 9 previous years of the tournament. Overall Taylor has won his group 7 times and has only ever lost 4 group matches from 27 played. The last time he lost a group match at the Grand Slam was in 2012.

Ian White (PDC Number 12)

White is playing at the Grand Slam for the 3rd time and will be aiming to get through to the knockout rounds for the 1st time having finished in 3rd place in his 2 previous appearances. His only two wins at the tournament came against van Barneveld in 2011 and Klaasen in 2015. White qualified for this year’s Grand Slam courtesy of winning 3 ProTour tournaments during 2016.

Darren Webster (PDC Number 40)

This will be the 2nd appearance at the Grand Slam for Darren Webster having previously qualified in 2014 when he finished winless at bottom of his group containing van Gerwen, Kim Huybrechts and Jan Dekker. To qualify for this year’s Grand Slam he came through the Wild Card qualifiers where he defeated Mark Webster, Berry van Peer (2016 World Youth finalist) and Jelle Klaasen.  He has reached 2 ranking semi-finals during 2016; the most recent was in September.

Darryl Fitton (BDO Number 10)

Fitton has competed at the Grand Slam 3 times previously but this is his first visit to the tournament since 2010. On his debut in 2008 he reached the quarter-finals before falling to Gary Anderson, in each of the next 2 years he failed to make it out of his group. Fitton qualified for this years Grand Slam by winning the BDO World Trophy in May.

Verdict

Phil Taylor is the obvious favourite in this group and I expect him make it through to the knockout rounds as the winner. Ian White is the player most likely to join Taylor in the last 16, on the negative side for White is that he hasn’t qualified from his group at the tournament previously and despite his undoubted talent can be inconsistent. Darren Webster can be a tricky opponent but also is a little too erratic. Fitton still has quality as he showed when winning the World Trophy but he doesn’t play to the same consistency he did when reached the quarter-finals here in 2008. It’s Taylor and White to qualify in my opinion.

 

Group E

Gary Anderson (PDC Number 2)

Current back to back PDC World Champion Gary Anderson has appeared in all 9 previous editions of the Grand Slam and has never failed to reach the knockout rounds. He is a former finalist (2011) and reached the semi-finals in both 2007 and 2008, but has failed to win a knockout round match at this tournament since 2011. Anderson has finished top of his group in 4 out of 9 years and has only twice managed to win all 3 of his matches (he won all 3 games in 2009 and 2015). The only group matches he has lost since 2011 have been against Adrian Lewis and James Wade.

Alan Norris (PDC Number 22)

Former BDO World finalist Alan Norris returns to the Grand Slam for the second time, having made his debut in 2014 when he qualified at the top of a group containing Scott Waites, Terry Jenkins and Ronny Huybrechts. He went on to lose in the Last 16 to Kim Huybrechts. Norris has made excellent progress up the PDC rankings since switching in early 2015 and won his 2nd PDC ranking tournament only last month.

Nathan Derry (PDC Number 82)

Derry is a Grand Slam debutant and earned qualification through the PDC wild card qualifying event where he defeated Jeff Batham, Dennis Smith, Johnny Haines and Scott Taylor to win a place in this tournament. Prior to the Grand Slam qualifying tournament he had lost 16 of his last 18 matches on the PDC circuit. Derry has qualified for the UK Open finals 3 times and just lost out 9-8 to Mervyn King in the Last 32 in 2015 but in the other 2 years he lost in his opening match.

Glen Durrant (BDO Number 1)

Current BDO number one Glen Durrant is making his first appearance at the Grand Slam of Darts; he won the Winmau World Masters in 2015 which should have seen him make his debut last year but the qualification criteria meant he had to wait until this year. Durrant is a prolific tournament winner and has won 17 tournaments over the past couple of years alone. This isn’t the first time Durrant has appeared in a PDC ranking tournament, he appeared at the UK Open finals 3 times previously (2005, 2009 and 2012).

Verdict

Gary Anderson, Glen Durrant and Alan Norris will be fighting it out for the two qualifying places in what should be an intriguing battle. Anderson has stated how he likes the tournament and venue and as mentioned he has never failed to progress from his group, despite some indifferent performances in his last 2 TV tournaments I expect him to be switched on and to keep his 100% qualification record intact. The key tussle is likely to be the match between Norris and Durrant, it’s the first time for Durrant at the tournament and he will be desperate to make an impact, he’s a quality player who is used to winning matches so confidence shouldn’t really be an issue. Norris has proven his ability both before and since switching to the PDC and is certainly capable of qualifying if he plays to his potential. I think it’s a very tough call but I’ll go for Durrant to join Anderson in the knockout rounds.

 

Group F

Mensur Suljovic (PDC Number 7)

Suljovic is making his Grand Slam debut at this years tournament. He has risen up to 7th place in the PDC rankings courtesy of a very impressive last couple of years. In September he won his first PDC ranking tournament and only a couple of weeks ago at the European Championship he made it through to his first PDC TV ranking final having defeated Phil Taylor and Peter Wright in consecutive matches before losing to Michael van Gerwen.

Raymond van Barneveld (PDC Number 14)

Five times World Champion Raymond van Barneveld is an ever present at the Grand Slam of Darts and won the tournament in 2012. Barney has progressed from the group stage in 7 of the 9 years he has competed at the tournament and in only 1 of those 9 years has he failed to win 2 group matches.

Nathan Aspinall (PDC Number 74)

Aspinall is making his Grand Slam debut having qualified due to reaching the 2015 PDC World Youth final where he narrowly missed out in the final to Max Hopp. His best performance during 2016 was in reaching the quarter-finals of a Players Championship tournament in April but he enters the tournament having lost 12 of his last 14 matches on the PDC tour.

Danny Noppert (BDO Number 3)

Noppert is also making his Grand Slam debut, he qualified through his BDO ranking, he is currently ranked 3rd in the BDO on the back of a very consistent year. Noppert has yet to make his World Championship debut but has reached the quarter-finals at the both World Masters and the World Trophy.

Verdict

Mensur Suljovic and Raymond van Barneveld start as the rightful favourites in this group. Suljovic has been so consistent over the past couple of years and I think it would be a big surprise if he didn’t qualify. Van Barneveld has a lot of experience of this tournament and the fact he has only once failed to register two wins in a group suggests he knows what it takes to get through, Barney hasn’t played a lot of ranking events this year and still has a lot more quality than his ranking suggests. Noppert has plenty of potential, I think he will leave a good impression on the tournament but I don’t think he is at the level yet that will see him finish above Suljovic and van Barneveld. For Aspinall to just qualify for the tournament is a big achievement and will give him valuable ranking money but it will be a huge task for him to finish above 4th place.

 

Group G

James Wade (PDC Number 6)

Wade is a former Grand Slam finalist and has appeared in all 9 previous years of the tournament; he has qualified from his group in 8 of the 9 years and has finished as the group winner in 5 of those years. In total he has only lost 6 of his 27 group matches at the Grand Slam.

Dave Chisnall (PDC Number 9)

Chisnall is another former Grand Slam finalist having reached the final in 2014. Prior to 2014 he had failed to qualify for the knockout rounds in 3 years of competing at the tournament and had won only 2 of 9 group matches played in those 3 years. He has now qualified from his group in 2 consecutive years.

James Wilson (PDC Number 36)

Wilson is making his debut at the Grand Slam in 2016; he earned qualification through the PDC wild card qualifiers where he defeated Wes Newton, Daryl Gurney and Terry Jenkins along the way. He is a former BDO number 1 who switched to the PDC in early 2015 and is now closing in on a place in the top 32 of the PDC rankings. Wilson is a former winner of the BDO World Trophy and also reached the World Masters final during his time in the BDO.

Jamie Hughes (BDO Number 4)

Jamie Hughes will also be making his Grand Slam debut at this years tournament. He has produced some excellent performances on the BDO circuit over the past couple of years resulting in him rising up the rankings. He reached the World Masters final in 2014 and he had runs to the semi-finals at both the BDO World Championships and the BDO World Trophy earlier this year. This is a local tournament for Hughes as he hails from nearby Tipton.

Verdict

On paper this is the toughest group of all 8 and whoever comes through will have certainly earned the place in the knockout rounds. Both Wade and Chisnall have good experience of this tournament and are the favourites to go through, they are both more proven performers than Wilson and Hughes. It would be folly to dismiss Wilson and Hughes completely from the equation though as they are both quality players who will push Wade and Chisnall all the way. I reckon that Wade and Chisnall will both go through but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if either Wilson or Hughes claimed one of the spots.

 

Group H

Adrian Lewis (PDC Number 3)

Lewis has featured in all 9 previous years at the Grand Slam; he has reached the semi-finals twice and lost in the quarter-finals last year. Lewis doesn’t have a good group stage record however as he has failed to qualify from his group 5 times and has finished bottom of his group 3 times.

Benito van de Pas (PDC Number 15)

Benito van de Pas is making his Grand Slam of Darts debut; he qualified on the back of winning 3 tournaments on the PDC tour during this season and has now broken through in the top 16 in the PDC rankings.  Still only 23 years old he has already competed at 5 World Championship tournaments (3 in the BDO and 2 in the PDC).

Chris Dobey (PDC Number 54)

Dobey is another Grand Slam debutant; he earned qualification through the PDC wild card qualifiers where he defeated former Grand Slam competitors Steve Beaton and Rowby-John Rodriguez on the way. Dobey recently reached his first PDC ranking final; during that tournament he claimed the scalps of Adrian Lewis, Stephen Bunting and Dave Chisnall before losing to Simon Whitlock.

Scott Mitchell (BDO Number 2)

2015 BDO World Champion Scott Mitchell is returning to the Grand Slam for the 2nd time having made his debut at last years tournament where he finished bottom of a strong group containing Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall and Mervyn King. Last year Mitchell lost to Wright and King before beating Chisnall in his final match.

Verdict

The group favourite Adrian Lewis has had his problems in the group stage at the Grand Slam previously and can’t afford any slipups against some tricky opposition if he is to progress. Van de Pas has made huge strides on the PDC tour especially away from the TV tournaments and although he hasn’t shown his best game on TV yet it is only a matter of time before he does. Mitchell will have benefitted from his experience of playing in this tournament last year when he played a lot better than he results suggested. Dobey is very much an up and coming player who will continue to rise up the rankings; he’s had some good results on the tour and is a dangerous outsider. It’s Lewis and van de Pas to just qualify in my opinion, from what should be a good quality set of matches.

 

Finally the schedule for the group matches is as follows.

Saturday November 12

Afternoon Session (1pm)

Groups B-C-F-G First Matches

Gerwyn Price v Dimitri Van den Bergh (B)

Simon Whitlock v Ted Evetts (C)

Dave Chisnall v James Wilson (G)

Mensur Suljovic v Danny Noppert (F)

Robert Thornton v Scott Waites (B)

Raymond van Barneveld v Nathan Aspinall (F)

James Wade v Jamie Hughes (G)

Peter Wright v Jeff Smith (C)

 

Evening Session (7.30pm)

Groups A-D-E-H First Matches

Brendan Dolan v Max Hopp (A)

Alan Norris v Nathan Derry (E)

Ian White v Darren Webster (D)

Benito van de Pas v Chris Dobey (H)

Phil Taylor v Darryl Fitton (D)

Gary Anderson v Glen Durrant (E)

Michael van Gerwen v Martin Adams (A)

Adrian Lewis v Scott Mitchell (H)

 

Sunday November 13

Afternoon Session (1pm)

Groups B-C-F-G Second Matches

Saturday’s Loser v Loser & Winner v Winner face each other

Order of play TBC

 

Evening Session (7pm)

Groups A-D-E-H Second Matches

Saturday’s Loser v Loser & Winner v Winner face each other

Order of play TBC

 

Monday November 14 (7pm)

Groups A-D-E-H Final Games

Order of play TBC

 

Tuesday November 15 (7pm)

Groups B-C-F-G Final Games

Order of play TBC

 

The Best Ever?

In a recent interview on the Sky Sports website the current world number one Michael van Gerwen when speaking about Phil Taylor was quoted as saying “He is the greatest of all time, but I am the best of all time”.

(Below is the link to the article)

http://www.skysports.com/darts/news/12288/10650099/michael-van-gerwen-tells-sky-sports-about-the-psychology-needed-to-overthrow-phil-taylor

It is no real surprise to hear van Gerwen speak with such confidence having racked up an impressive 23 tournament wins during 2016 alone, including claiming the winners cheques in all of the big TV ranking tournaments so far this season (UK Open, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and European Championship). Overall van Gerwen has won 9 of the 11 TV ranking tournaments played since losing in the World Championship semi-finals to Gary Anderson in early 2015.

Despite all of his success van Gerwen has just one world title to his name, and in the Sky Sports interview he admitted he will not match Taylor’s haul of 16 world titles. “No, it’s not possible to win more, or become the greatest ever, because I cannot [win] 16 world titles. I will be retired before”.

It is truly hard to fully judge how Michael van Gerwen compares to Phil Taylor as the span of their careers are very different with Phil Taylor having won his first world title when van Gerwen wasn’t even a year old. Added to the fact that it’s only within the last four years that van Gerwen has turned into the winning machine he currently is, having struggled for form over a number of years after switching to the PDC from the BDO where he won the World Masters as a 17 year-old.

To try and make some comparison between the standard of darts produced by Taylor and van Gerwen I decided to take their best average per round in the latter stages in PDC TV ranking tournaments (the rounds used for the data are quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals).

The TV ranking tournaments I have taken into account are the World Championship, UK Open, World Matchplay, European Championship, Grand Slam, Players Championship Finals and World Grand Prix. The Grand Slam only became a ranking event in 2015 but I added the data for previous years as the tournament format was the same, I also included the World Grand Prix but note the averages are lower for this because of the double start format.

Here is the comparison. The averages are listed by tournament and by round.

taylor-van-gerwen-high-averages-qf-sf-f-_-version-to-use

In the first row for example I have listed the highest average both players have produced in quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals at the World Championships. This shows that Taylor’s highest average in a World Championship quarter-final match was 108.8 in 2009, whilst van Gerwen’s highest average in a World Championship quarter-final match was 105.26 in 2015. The next row shows the highest average both players have produced in World Championship semi-final matches and so on.

As you will see on the chart, I have highlighted which player has posted the higher average per round per tournament. This shows that overall Taylor has produced higher averages than van Gerwen in 17 of the 21 latter stage (QF/SF/F) rounds in TV ranking tournaments.

Do these numbers suggest van Gerwen has a little way to go before he can be considered the best ever? Recently he has been sweeping aside all before him as did Taylor for a number of years. The level of competition is without doubt getting higher all the time which makes van Gerwen’s current domination all the more impressive, but also it can’t be forgotten the level of darts that Taylor has produced over the years, especially in the latter stages of big tournaments regardless of level of opposition.

The debate over who is the greatest will no doubt rumble on and on. Is it premature to call van Gerwen the best of all time? The high averages produced by Taylor in the later stages of big tournaments eclipse what van Gerwen has produced so far.

Yes van Gerwen holds the world record TV average of 123.4 (in a short format Premier League match). Higher averages have been achieved in non-televised matches on the tour by other players. I feel a comparison of averages over a longer format and in TV knockout matches makes for good analysis.

Averages obviously don’t win matches though and are only a guide, but this comparison of their performances in the final stages of big tournaments makes for interesting reading.

2016 European Championship – Final Day Preview

The 2016 European Championship reaches its conclusion today as the final 8 players fight it out for the title.

The four quarter-finals take place in the afternoon, with the evening session comprising of the semi-finals and final.

There is plenty of quality left in the tournament with defending champion Michael van Gerwen remaining firm favourite to win a 3rd European Championship title in a row but Phil Taylor, James Wade, Peter Wright, Mensur Suljovic, Jelle Klaasen, Kyle Anderson and James Wilson will all be confident in their own chances.

Here is the tournament draw at the quarter-final stage.

Michael van Gerwen (1) vs Jelle Klaasen (8)

James Wilson vs James Wade (4)

Mensur Suljovic (2) vs Phil Taylor

Kyle Anderson vs Peter Wright (3)

 

And here are my previews for the four quarter-finals.

Sunday October 30 (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)

wilson-v-wade

James Wilson

  • Wilson won 10-9 against Mervyn King in round two, there was never much between the players all through the game, after four early breaks of throw the final 11 legs of the match all went with throw, Wilson didn’t create any good chances to break King but was very solid on his own throw.
  • He had an excellent run of 180 hitting in his match against King, all 6 of his 180’s came within an 8 leg spell in the middle of the match.
  • In round two his match average and checkout % were both lower than his round one totals.
  • Wilson is through to his first PDC TV quarter-final; he has played in 6 ranking quarter-finals in 2016 and has won 4 of them.

James Wade

  • Wade had a comfortable 10-3 win over Max Hopp in round two meaning he has only dropped a total of 3 legs in winning his two matches so far. Wade took the initiative against Hopp with a break of throw in 12 darts in the 2nd leg of the match and although Hopp kept in touch over the next few legs a run of 5 legs in a row from 5-3 pulled Wade to victory.
  • His finishing was very efficient against Hopp, hitting 50% of his attempts, this on the back of hitting 75% against Anderson in round one means Wade has a tournament double success percentage of over 57%.
  • Wade’s scoring stepped up a notch from round one to round two with his first nine dart average rising from 99 to 109 mainly due to some very consistent 140 hitting.
  • This is Wade’s first time in the quarter-finals of this tournament since 2011 when he lost to van Barneveld.
  • It’s his first TV ranking quarter-final appearance since reaching the quarters at the last World Championships and it’s only his 3rd TV ranking quarter-final since October 2014.

Head to Head (Wade leads 2-1)

They have met twice during 2016 with each player winning once; it was Wade who took the honours in their last encounter when he won 6-3 at a Players Championship tournament in May. This is their first meeting on the TV stage.

Verdict

James Wade has cruised into the last 8 with two easy wins and should be feeling a lot fresher than Wilson who was pushed very hard against King yesterday, I think Wade can take his game up a level from what he has had to do so far. There isn’t too much to separate the players on their tournament average but Wade’s finishing has been more effective and this could be where the match is settled, Wade’s knack of taking out combination finishes at the key moments always makes him a danger. I expect Wilson to push Wade but will just come up short with Wade coming through 10-7.

 

van-gerwen-v-klaasen

Michael van Gerwen

  • Van Gerwen made very light work of Gerwyn Price in round two playing some high calibre darts in a 10-2 win. MvG took control of the match after losing the opening leg when he won 5 legs in a row to take a commanding lead. After 5 legs van Gerwen was averaging 120 and although his average dipped under 106 at the end of the match he was still averaging 113 two legs prior to the match ending when Price himself was averaging 105.
  • His 180 scoring against Price hit remarkable levels when he scored a total of 9 180’s in a 7 leg spell. Overall during the tournament so far he is averaging a 180 every 1.6 legs.
  • His double success percentage in round two was much better than in round one, he hit over 43% of his doubles against Price, that total would have been more impressive had he not taken a total of 11 darts at double to win the final 2 legs of the match.
  • Van Gerwen has won his quarter-final match at this tournament in each of the last 3 years. In 2014 and 2015 he defeated Dave Chisnall and back in 2013 he beat Jelle Klaasen at this stage of the tournament.
  • Overall van Gerwen has won his last 16 TV ranking quarter-finals; the last time he lost at this stage of a TV ranking tournament was in October 2013 at the World Grand Prix.

Jelle Klaasen

  • Klaasen swept aside Stephen Bunting in round two with a convincing 10-4 win. He came flying out of the blocks winning the opening 3 legs but then had a spell of trouble on his doubles which gave Bunting a foothold in the game at 5-4, Klaasen then found his range again and won 5 legs in a row to seal victory (Klaasen averaged 115 over the final 5 legs).
  • Against Bunting for the second match in row at the tournament Klaasen scored a 180 in each of the opening 4 legs having done the same against West in round one.
  • Klaasen’s first 9 dart average of 121 against Bunting was the highest of any player in round two.
  • This is the 4th year in a row that Klaasen has reached the quarter-finals at his tournament and the 5th time overall. He has exited the tournament at his stage in each of the last 3 years, losing to van Gerwen, King and Gary Anderson.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 13-7)

Michael van Gerwen has won each of their last 7 meetings and going a little further back has won 10 of their last 11 stretching back to 2013. Klaasen’s only win against van Gerwen since 2012 was a 6-5 in a Euro Tour event in 2014. They have met 4 times in 2016 and their last 3 meetings were in Euro Tour quarter-finals.

Verdict

If you are going to watch just one quarter-final today I would advise you to make it this one. Recent meetings have seen both players produce an exceptional standard of darts and the way they both played yesterday suggests something special might be in store. MvG is so motivated and determined to defeat Klaasen he steps up his intensity and I expect this to be the case again. This is going to be fast and frantic and should be littered with 180’s. As good as Klaasen has been playing I just think van Gerwen will step it up a level, I’m going for a 10-8 win for MvG.

 

suljovic-v-taylor

Mensur Suljovic

  • Suljovic edged past Ian White in a last leg decider in round two having led 8-3 at one stage and looking set for an easy win. Suljovic showed his bottle in seeing out the match but he did look like faltering a little when White came back at him strongly.
  • Against White he averaged over 100 for the second game in a row. His overall tournament average is over 101 and his tournament double success percentage is over 51%.
  • This is his first time in the quarter-finals of this tournament but he is no stranger to PDC TV quarter-finals having reached 5 previously. He has won his last 2 TV quarter-finals, those wins being at the 2015 World Grand Prix and 2015 Players Championship Finals.
  • Suljovic has also won each of his last 5 ranking quarter-final matches, all of those have been since September 2016.

Phil Taylor

  • Taylor had a comfortable 10-3 win over Joe Cullen in round two, although he never hit the heights of his performance against Norris in round one it was still a very good display especially on his doubles where he hit 10 of his 15 attempts.
  • His tournament average of 106.63 is the highest of any player in the tournament and he has hit 59% of his double attempts.
  • Taylor is a four time winner of the European Championship but has failed to get past the quarter-finals since he last won the tournament in 2011.
  • His last two defeats at this tournament have both been on last leg deciders (Bunting in 2014, Adrian Lewis in 2015).

Head to Head (Taylor leads 4-0)

Taylor has a 100% record against Suljovic, prior to meeting at the World Cup of Darts in June they hadn’t played each other since 2009. They met most recently at the World Matchplay earlier this year when Taylor won 11-5 in the second round

Verdict

Both players have averaged over 100 in their two matches to reach this stage of the tournament and we should be set for another high quality match. Taylor has looked in excellent shape this weekend and looks determined to win this tournament and the way he has played so far he will take some stopping. Suljovic has the potential to push Taylor hard but I don’t think he will overcome Taylor here; I’m going for Taylor to win 10-6.

 

anderson-v-wright

Kyle Anderson

  • Anderson had a convincing 10-4 win over James Richardson in round two, he took control from the start and never looked troubled averaging in the mid to late 90’s all through the game, against an opponent who was averaging in the mid to low 80’s for much of the match.
  • The main highlight of Anderson’s game through the tournament so far has been his finishing, overall he has hit just over 59% of his double attempts, only Phil Taylor has matched this.
  • This is his 2nd TV ranking quarter-final having matched his performance at this year’s UK Open, he will be hoping for a better result this time as he lost 10-0 to Jelle Klaasen on that occasion.
  • Anderson did reach the semi-finals at the Sydney Masters in 2014 when he defeated van Barneveld and Whitlock before losing to Phil Taylor.

Peter Wright

  • Wright won 10-7 against Cristo Reyes in round two, Wright had his nose in front for most of the game though could never quite entirely shake off his opponent, but Wright always looked the likely winner and this proved to be the case.
  • Against Reyes he averaged over 100 all through the match; he hit 50% of his doubles as well as hitting 6x 180’s. His all-round level of performance was much improved from his round one win vs Pipe.
  • This is his 4th time in the quarter-finals of this tournament, last year he defeated John Henderson to reach the semi-finals having lost to Simon Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld in his previous quarter-final appearances.

Head to Head (1 win each)

This is only their 3rd meeting which is quite a surprise and it’s the first time they have played each other since 2015. Kyle Anderson’s win came at the Dutch Darts Masters in June 2015 with Wright winning the next month in a Players Championship tournament.

Verdict

It’s an intriguing match to round off the afternoon; Kyle Anderson has the ability to really trouble Peter Wright especially if he continues his clinical finishing shown in the opening two rounds. Wright though has a lot of experience in the later stages of tournaments; he looked good against Reyes and has a lot more in his locker still. I think a good start for Anderson is essential if he is to have a chance but I’m expecting Wright to come out strongly and stamp his authority on the game early which may mean Anderson is left chasing for the rest of the game. I’m predicting a 10-7 win for Wright.

 

Due to the semi-finals and final being played only a matter of hours later I won’t be producing a full preview for those matches and will only be doing my usual pre-match stats on Twitter, I will have an attempt at predicting the semi-finals and final now though.

Semi-finals

van Gerwen 11-8 Wade

Taylor 11-7 Wright

Final

van Gerwen 8-11 Taylor

I feel the way Taylor has been hitting his doubles might just give him the edge against van Gerwen in the final.

2016 European Championship – Day Two Preview

Day two at the 2016 Unibet European Championship sees the tournament reach the Last 16 stage with four matches being played in the afternoon and four matches in the evening.

I’ve previewed all eight matches to help guide you through the action.

Afternoon Session (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)

k-anderson-v-richardson

Kyle Anderson

  • Anderson defeated number 6 seed Dave Chisnall in round one. It was a very slow start from Anderson in the first 3 and a bit legs but a 102 checkout sparked him into life and consecutive legs won in 11 and 12 darts gave him control which he never relinquished. It has to be said that Chisnall wasn’t at his best but Anderson took advantage and was a deserved winner.
  • He has now made it through to the Last 16 in each of the 4 major TV ranking tournaments played this season (UK Open, Matchplay, Grand Prix and European Championship).

James Richardson

  • Richardson came through a scrappy encounter with Jamie Caven in the opening round. The highlight for Richardson was a 158 checkout in the 5th leg of the match but his overall average was just under 81 with his opponent averaging under 78.
  • This is the furthest he has ever progressed in a PDC TV ranking tournament.

Head to Head

This is their first meeting.

Verdict

Kyle Anderson is the obvious favourite here, he has been proving his quality over the last couple of years and has some good experience on the TV stage, Richardson is better than he showed in the opening round and it can’t be forgotten that he has a big win against van Barneveld at the World Championships on his record. I expect Anderson to improve on his performance against Chisnall and to have too much for Richardson over the first to 10 legs. I’ll go for Kyle Anderson to win 10-5.

 

suljovic-v-white

Mensur Suljovic

  • Suljovic was very impressive in his 6-1 win over Wattimena in round one, he took control of the match from the off and was excellent in every aspect of the game, his average was over 104 and he hit 75% of his double attempts which highlights how good he was.
  • This is the 12th time Suljovic has appeared in the Last 16 of a PDC major ranking TV tournament and the 8th time since the start of 2015.
  • He has never made it further than this stage of the European Championship previously.

Ian White

  • White came through easier than expected against Terry Jenkins in round one with a 6-2 victory. Back to back 12 darts legs in the middle of the match effectively won the game for White, his average was lowered by a 25 dart leg when he needed 8 darts to hit the leg winning double so his overall performance is better than his stats suggest.
  • White has also yet to progress further than the Last 16 in this tournament previously.

Head to Head (3 wins each)

There is nothing to split them on their previous meetings though Suljovic did win the last time they met (at a Euro Tour event in September) and has won their only previous encounter on TV which came at last year’s Players Championship finals where Suljovic won 10-6 in the quarter-finals.

Verdict

A tough match with two very capable players, but I think what gives Suljovic the edge though is his consistency, White can win back to back 12 dart legs as he showed in round one but he can sometimes go missing in a match and have spells of inconsistency. The all round game of Suljovic has been excellent over the last couple of years and his confidence is sky high. I’m tipping Suljovic to win 10-7.

 

wright-v-reyes

Peter Wright

  • Wright came through a very tight match against Justin Pipe in round one just edging it 6-5 courtesy of a 98 checkout in the final leg. Wright had led 4-1 and then trailed 5-4 with Pipe missing match darts to win 6-4. It wasn’t a pretty win but Wright showed lots of bottle to go through.
  • This is the 4th time Wright has made it through to the Last 16 at this tournament and he has won all 3 previous times with wins against Gary Anderson and Kim Huybrechts (twice).

Cristo Reyes

  • Reyes impressed in his 6-4 win over Robert Thornton in the opening round. He averaged just under 97 and hit 50% of his doubles against an opponent who hit 5x 180’s.
  • This is the 2nd year in succession that Reyes has made it through to the Last 16 at the European Championship, last year he was beaten by the eventual champion Michael van Gerwen at this stage of the tournament.

Head to Head (Wright leads 3-0)

Wright has a 100% record in their previous meetings, they have met twice in 2016 (both matches were in March). The matches between them have been close with two finishing 6-4 and the most recent finishing 6-5.

Verdict

Peter Wright has the proven pedigree in progressing to the later stages of TV tournaments but he faces a tricky tie against the very capable Reyes who has the game to make life very difficult for his higher ranked opponent. Wright will certainly have to improve on his first round performance if he is to progress and I expect him to. There is no doubt Reyes has a chance but I am going for Wright to edge it 10-7.

 

wilson-v-king

James Wilson

  • Wilson knocked out home favourite Kim Huybrechts in round one, winning 6-3 with a very composed, controlled and consistent performance. Wilson was averaging around a 100 for most of the match and hit over 54% of his double attempts.
  • He has now reached the Last 16 in back to back TV tournament having made it to this stage at the World Grand Prix earlier this month, on that occasion he was halted by van Gerwen.
  • Wilson does have the calibre of going deep in TV tournaments during his time in the BDO having won the World Trophy and also having reached the final of the World Masters.

Mervyn King

  • King grinded his way to a 6-4 win over Devon Petersen in round one, it wasn’t a pretty match with both players struggling to find form, but King took 4 of the final 5 legs including hitting a 100 checkout to see out the match to earn his place in round two. A positive for King was his 50% success on double attempts.
  • This is the 6th time King has reached the Last 16 at the European Championship; his previous defeats at this stage of the tournament came against Phil Taylor (twice) and Michael van Gerwen.

Head to Head (Wilson leads 2-0)

They have only met twice previously with Wilson coming out on top on both occasions, both encounters came during 2016. This is their first meeting on the TV stage.

Verdict

James Wilson certainly entered this tournament in the better form and showed more in the first round that he rightfully starts the match as the favourite, he is playing some very good darts at the moment and if he keeps on playing to the same level it will take a good performance to stop him. King has quality but hasn’t been showing enough of it on a consistent basis; he can’t be written off though as proved at the Matchplay when he pushed Taylor all the way. I think Wilson will prove a tough nut to crack for King and will go through to the quarter-finals with a 10-7 win.

 

Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)

klaasen-v-bunting

Jelle Klaasen

  • Klaasen won 6-3 against Steve West to reach round two, he played some scintillating darts in going 5-0 up (he was averaging 113 after 4 legs). The break seemed to have affected his rhythm though as West clawed 3 legs back and although Klaasen got the leg he needed to win the match he never quite rediscovered his form from the opening phase of the match.
  • He has a good record in the Last 16 of this tournament having won through and reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 3 years.

Stephen Bunting

  • Bunting had to survive a match dart before coming through a very tight match against Michael Smith in round one. Overall there was plenty to like about Bunting’s performance, he averaged over 100 all through the match with his end average just dropping to 99.55, his scoring was excellent with his first 9 dart average being a very healthy 114.
  • He has now reached the Last 16 in all 3 years he has competed at this tournament and famously beat Taylor 10-9 in 2014 in this round. He is aiming to reach his first TV ranking quarter-final since March 2015 at the UK Open though.

Head to Head (1 win each)

Surprisingly this is only the 3rd meeting between the two players, it’s the first time they have met on TV and they have never met in a Euro Tour event previously either. The last time they played was back in 2015 when Klaasen won 6-3; Bunting’s win was a 6-5 in a 2014 UK Open qualifier in the very first weekend he played on the tour having switched from the BDO.

Verdict

This has all the makings of a very entertaining top quality darts match, the pace of the match should be conducive in bringing out the best in each other and it’s a game I am really looking forward to. They both played well in round one and hopefully they will carry that form on. I make Klaasen a small favourite but I don’t think there will be much in it, my prediction is a 10-9 thriller just going the way of the Dutchman.

 

taylor-v-cullen

Phil Taylor

  • Taylor averaged over 109 in his 6-3 win against Alan Norris in round one, the scoring power of Taylor was relentless, he averaged over 123 for his first 9 darts and hit a very impressive 16 scores between 140 and 180.
  • Taylor is a 4 time winner of this tournament but has failed to get past the Last 16 in 2 of the last 3 years (though he did win at this stage of the tournament last year against Michael Smith).

Joe Cullen

  • Cullen produced a very solid performance in his 6-2 win over Chris Dobey in round one. It has to be said his opponent was below par and had to play with a set of borrowed darts but take nothing away from Cullen who averaged above 95 and hit over 42% of his double attempts.
  • This is only Cullen’s 3rd appearance in the Last 16 of a TV tournament; both previous occasions were at the UK Open (he reached the quarter-finals at the UK Open earlier this year).

Head to Head (Taylor leads 4-1)

This is the first time they have met since 2014 and only the second time they have met since 2011. Taylor has won their last 3 encounters with Cullen’s sole victory coming way back in 2010.

Verdict

Taylor looked in ominously good form in round one, his focus was spot on and his game looked in excellent shape, Cullen has it all to do to try and stop him and I feel will have to give his best ever TV performance just to keep with Taylor. Cullen is playing well this year but it is a huge task in front of him to overturn Taylor in the mood he was in during round one. I think Taylor will win 10-4.

 

wade-v-hopp

James Wade

  • Wade had a surprisingly very comfortable 6-0 win over Gary Anderson in the final game of round one with Anderson averaging only 77. Wade himself played a solid game of darts with his finishing being a very efficient 75% which included two ton plus checkouts.
  • In his 8 previous years at this tournament he has only gone further than the Last 16 on 2 occasions and is looking to do so for the first time since 2011.

Max Hopp

  • Hopp edged past Benito van de Pas in round one with a 6-4 win, van de Pas missed a number of doubles which could have made the outcome a lot different, Hopp only averaged 85.8 at the end of the match.
  • Prior to yesterday Hopp had failed to win a match in his 2 previous years in competing at this tournament, he is through to the Last 16 in a TV ranking tournament for the first time.

Head to Head (Wade leads 1-0)

Their one and only meeting came back in 2014 at a Players Championship tournament when Wade won 6-0.

Verdict

Wade cruised through round one against an out of sorts Gary Anderson though credit to Wade the level of Anderson didn’t drag Wade down he kept his focus and looked in good shape especially in his finishing of legs. Hopp will have to bring a big improvement to his game to challenge Wade and I don’t think he has the level of consistency to seriously trouble his higher ranked opponent. I think Wade will win this match 10-5.

 

van-gerwen-v-price

Michael van Gerwen

  • Defending champion van Gerwen had to come from 5-3 behind to defeat Whitlock in round one. It was a very patchy performance from van Gerwen as he scored very well but his finishing left a lot to be desired (he hit just 2 of his first 17 attempts).
  • He is on an 11 match winning run at the European Championship and hasn’t failed to get past this round since losing 10-9 to van Barneveld in 2012.

Gerwyn Price

  • Price came through 6-4 against Daryl Gurney in round one, neither player really hit the heights they are capable of but Price had the edge with his clinical finishing, he had a success rate of over 54% on his doubles whilst Gurney only hit 25% of his attempts.
  • This is his 4th time in the Last 16 of a major TV ranking tournament; he made it through to the quarter-finals at the Matchplay in 2015 but has failed to get further than the Last 16 since then.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 4-0)

Michael van Gerwen has won all 4 of their previous encounters, their most recent of which was at a Euro Tour event in September. All of their previous matches have been over the best of 11 format and this is the first time they have met in a big TV ranking tournament.

Verdict

Michael van Gerwen had a very tough test in round one and he will really have to sharpen up on his doubling if he is to win this tournament for the 3rd year in a row, the positive for MvG is that he won despite missing so many doubles and his scoring will always give him chances. Price will also have to improve from his match against Gurney, he hasn’t managed to get the better of van Gerwen in their 4 previous meetings over a shorter format and I think the longer format gives him less chance of getting a first win over MvG. I’m going for a 10-6 victory for van Gerwen.

2016 PDC European Championship – Day One Preview

This weekend will see top class PDC darting action coming from Hasselt in Belgium with the 9th staging of the European Championship broadcast live on ITV4 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The tournament is comprised of the 32 players who finished in the top 32 places in the European Tour Order of Merit following 10 European Tour events during 2016. The top 8 players were seeded and the rest of the draw was an open draw which has thrown up some very tough matches in round one most notably James Wade vs Gary Anderson.

Michael van Gerwen enters the tournament as the defending champion having won the event in each of the last 2 years and as you might expect he is the favourite to win the tournament for the 3rd year in a row.

Here is a look at the full tournament draw.

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Simon Whitlock

Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price

Jelle Klaasen (8) v Steve West

Michael Smith v Stephen Bunting

Kim Huybrechts (5) v James Wilson

Mervyn King v Devon Petersen

James Wade (4) v Gary Anderson

Max Hopp v Benito van de Pas

Mensur Suljovic (2) v Jermaine Wattimena

Ian White v Terry Jenkins

Alan Norris (7) v Phil Taylor

Chris Dobey v Joe Cullen

Dave Chisnall (6) v Kyle Anderson

Jamie Caven v James Richardson

Peter Wright (3) v Justin Pipe

Cristo Reyes v Robert Thornton

 

Now for my previews which cover all of Friday’s first round matches

Friday October 28

Afternoon Session (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)

caven-v-richardson

Jamie Caven

  • Jamie Caven was the last man to make the cut for the tournament, he finished 32nd on the European Tour Order of Merit with £8,500. Caven’s best performance on the European Tour in 2016 was a Last 16 appearance at the European Matchplay where he lost to Peter Wright having earlier beaten Simon Whitlock.
  • This is his sixth time he has qualified for the European Championship having made his debut back in 2009. Caven has twice reached the quarter-finals at this tournament, in 2010 he lost to Terry Jenkins having earlier eliminated Gary Anderson, then in 2013 he lost 10-9 to Simon Whitlock having surrendered a 9-3 lead, earlier in that tournament he dropped a total of 2 legs in beating both Dave Chisnall and James Wade.
  • In total Caven has only lost 1 of his previous 5 first round matches at the European Championship, the sole defeat came against Gary Anderson in 2011.
  • Caven is aiming to get further than the Last 32 of a PDC TV major for only the 2nd time since November 2014.

James Richardson

  • James Richardson finished tied for 30th on the European Tour Order of Merit with £9,000. His best performance on the European Tour in 2016 was a quarter-final appearance at the German Darts Masters in March, in that tournament he notably accounted for Adrian Lewis in the Last 16 before losing to the eventual runner-up Peter Wright.
  • This is Richardson’s debut at the European Championship; he has qualified for the UK Open Finals on three previous occasions and has also twice featured at the World Championship.
  • Richardson memorably defeated Raymond van Barneveld at the World Championships back in December 2011.

Head to Head (Caven leads 3-1)

Jamie Caven has the lead in their overall head to head record but James Richardson came out on top 6-5 in their most recent meeting which was only a few days ago at last weekend’s World Series of Darts Finals qualifiers. Prior to that encounter Caven had only dropped a total of 3 legs in winning their previous 3 matchups.

Verdict

Both players won’t have been unhappy with this draw as they could have faced much tougher first round opponents. Caven has produced some excellent performances at this tournament in previous years; though not all came at this venue he still has good memories, which is a positive. I don’t think there will be a lot to separate the two players and it could be as tight as their most recent meeting which came last weekend when Richardson won 6-5. I genuinely think this could go either way, in terms of betting value I would edge towards Richardson.

 

gurney-v-price

Daryl Gurney

  • Daryl Gurney finished 15th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £20,500 in prize money, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a run to the final at the Dutch Darts Masters in February, beating Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis on the way before losing to Michael van Gerwen in the final. Gurney exacted some revenge on van Gerwen at the recent German Darts Championship but his run was ended in the quarter-finals by Mensur Suljovic.
  • Gurney will be making his European Championship debut having never previously qualified for the tournament.
  • His best performance in a PDC TV major ranking tournament came in December 2015 when he reached the semi-finals at the Players Championship Finals, earlier this month he reached the quarter-finals at the World Grand Prix.

Gerwyn Price

  • Gerwyn Price finished tied for 17th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £16,500 in prize money, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were quarter-final appearances at the European Darts Trophy and the European Darts Grand Prix, those quarter-final appearances came in consecutive weekends during September.
  • Price is making his 2nd appearance at the European Championship having made his debut in last year’s tournament. In the opening round last year he lost 6-4 in a good quality match against Michael Smith with both players averaging around 98 at the end of the game.
  • His best performance in a PDC TV major ranking tournament was when he reached the quarter-finals at the 2015 World Matchplay, since then however he has lost in his first match in 5 of the last 7 PDC TV major ranking tournaments he has played.
  • Price has won 2 ranking tournaments during 2016, both were Players Championship tournaments and came only 3 weeks apart during May.

Head to Head (Price leads 1-0)

In their only previous meeting Gerwyn Price won 6-5 in the Last 32 of a Players Championship tournament in May of this year, Price went on to win that tournament.

Verdict

This is an intriguing first round match between two players who have enjoyed some excellent results during 2016. Price has ranking tournament wins to his name but Gurney has gone deep in tournaments and it is only a matter of time before he wins one. They both don’t lack confidence, and this should lead to a very watchable encounter. Gurney has come back very well from his absence with a hand injury during September and a recent win over van Gerwen will have given him a huge boost. I think Gurney has the edge with his scoring power and recent form and will just edge though to the next round.

 

dobey-v-cullen

Chris Dobey

  • Chris Dobey finished tied for 30th on the European Tour Order of Merit with £9,000. His best performance on the European Tour in 2016 was at the German Darts Masters in March when he reached the quarter-finals, at that tournament he defeated Robert Thornton and Dave Chisnall before losing in a last leg decider to Michael van Gerwen, in all 3 of those matches Dobey averaged over 100.
  • This is his European Championship debut, he has previously played at the UK Open and at last year’s World Series of Darts finals where he lost 6-5 to Terry Jenkins in round one.
  • Dobey comes into the tournament having reached his first PDC ranking final last Friday at a Players Championship tournament; he defeated Dave Chisnall, Stephen Bunting and Adrian Lewis before losing out in the final to Simon Whitlock. He then backed this up by earning qualification for the Grand Slam of Darts at Sunday’s qualifiers.

Joe Cullen

  • Joe Cullen finished tied for 17th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £16,500 in prize money, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a run to the semi-finals at the German Darts Masters, in that tournament he defeated James Wade, Benito van de Pas and Gary Anderson in consecutive matches before losing to the eventual champion Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals.
  • Cullen is making his European Championship debut, but has featured at the World Championship UK Open, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix previously.
  • Earlier this year he had his best run in a PDC TV ranking tournament when he reached the quarter-finals at the UK Open.
  • Cullen has reached the final in 2 ranking tournaments during 2016, and is now inside the top 32 in the main PDC Order of Merit.

Head to Head (Cullen leads 1-0)

The only previous meeting between Chris Dobey and Joe Cullen was at the 2015 German Darts Masters UK qualifying event, Cullen won that match 6-3.

Verdict

This is the match I am most looking forward to seeing in the afternoon session. Both Dobey and Cullen made it through to PDC ranking finals this season and are in the best form of their darting careers. Although they are a similar age Cullen has the edge in big stage experience having been on the PDC circuit a number of years now but Dobey is making big strides and as he showed earlier this year on the Euro Tour he can mix it with the best players. I am finding it very hard to pick a winner, if pressed I will side with Cullen but only just.

 

white-v-jenkins

Ian White

  • Ian White finished tied for 12th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £23,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy where he lost to 6-0 to Dave Chisnall having eliminated Peter Wright 6-5 in the quarter-finals.
  • White will be competing at the European Championships for the 4th time; he reached the Last 16 in both 2012 and 2014, though he lost 6-5 in the opening round to Stephen Bunting last year.
  • On his European Championship debut back in 2012 he defeated Adrian Lewis 6-0 in the first round.
  • He has won 3 Players Championship tournaments on the PDC circuit in 2016. The first of those came back in April, when he inflicted a very rare 6-0 defeat on Michael van Gerwen in the final.

Terry Jenkins

  • Terry Jenkins finished tied for 12th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £23,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the Austrian Darts Open in June where he lost to Michael Smith having earlier defeated Benito van de Pas and Peter Wright.
  • Jenkins is competing at the European Championships for the 9th year and is one of only four men never to have missed a year since the tournament started in 2008. He made it all the way through to the final in 2014 when he lost to van Gerwen and narrowly missed out on a place in the final in 2010 when he lost 11-10 to Phil Taylor.
  • In 8 previous appearances in the first round he has lost on 5 occasions, including first round exits in 3 of the last 4 years. In 2015 he was beaten 6-3 by James Wade in the opening round.
  • Jenkins has won his first match at each of his last 4 PDC TV major ranking tournaments, including a win against James Wade earlier this month at the World Grand Prix.

Head to Head (Jenkins leads 8-7)

There isn’t a lot to separate Terry Jenkins and Ian White over their previous 15 meetings with Jenkins only just having the edge courtesy of winning their most recent encounter 6-5 in a European Tour match in July. Jenkins has actually won 3 of their last 4 matches but White came out on top in their only 2 previous meetings in TV tournaments, winning 9-2 at the Players Championship finals in 2013 and 10-4 at the World Matchplay in 2014.

Verdict

White and Jenkins have plenty of experience and plenty of talent. If they are both on the top of their game we will see plenty of 180’s, some high finishes and one of the best matches of the first round, but that isn’t guaranteed as sometimes inconsistencies can creep into their games and they can both be guilty of lapses. White for example has won 3 titles this season but recently he has also lost a number of games to players who he should be beating. I can’t pick a clear favourite to win the match but I would think there would be more value to be had on Jenkins.

 

reyes-v-thornton

Cristo Reyes

  • Cristo Reyes finished tied for 28th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £9,500, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were two Last 16 appearances. At the German Darts Masters he lost 6-5 to the eventual runner-up Peter Wright and at the German Darts Championship he lost to Jelle Klaasen who also went on to reach the final.
  • Reyes made his European Championship debut last year when he reached the Last 16 before losing to Michael van Gerwen, in the opening round Reyes averaged over 100 in his 6-2 win over Max Hopp.
  • Since defeating Hopp in the 1st round here last year he has lost his last 4 matches in PDC TV major ranking tournaments, the most recent being at the World Grand Prix earlier this month when he lost 2-1 against Kyle Anderson.

Robert Thornton

  • Robert Thornton finished tied for 20th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £12,000, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were three Last 16 appearances.
  • Thornton made his European Championship debut back in 2008 in the first ever staging of the event. He went on to reach the semi-finals that year before losing to the eventual champion Phil Taylor. This is the 7th time he has qualified for the tournament.
  • Last year was the first year in which he failed to get past the first round of the European Championship when he lost 6-4 to John Henderson. Henderson won the final 2 legs of the match with checkouts of 124 and 111.
  • On the PDC circuit in 2016 Thornton has only made it through to one ranking quarter-final.

Head to Head (Thornton leads 2-0)

Robert Thornton has won each of their two previous meetings; those matches were played a day apart at Players Championship tournaments in March 2015.

Verdict

Robert Thornton has the greater pedigree having won TV major titles and having competed in the Premier League but he has struggled to find good form since winning the Grand Prix last year. Reyes has shown he has good quality but I still think he needs more good runs in TV tournaments to take his game up a level, he can be an excellent scorer but sometimes isn’t as clinical in finishing legs off which has to improve if he is to realise his full potential. The first couple of legs in this match should be vital, if Thornton starts confidently he will be hard to stop but he hasn’t shown enough of that this year and Reyes can take advantage. I’m tipping a Reyes win.

 

king-v-petersen

Mervyn King

  • Mervyn King finished 22nd on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £11,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the Dutch Darts Masters back in February when he was beaten by Michael van Gerwen having previously beaten Gary Anderson, Benito van de Pas and his opponent in this match Devon Petersen.
  • King has been an ever present at the European Championship since it started in 2008. His best run in the tournament was two years ago when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Terry Jenkins.
  • He has made it past the first round in 5 of his 8 years in competing at the European Championships but exited in the first round last year at the hands of Kim Huybrechts.
  • King lost in his opening match at both the UK Open and World Grand Prix this year but at the World Matchplay he reached the quarter-finals and pushed Phil Taylor all the way before losing 16-14.

Devon Petersen

  • Devon Petersen finished tied for 24th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a Last 16 appearance at the Dutch Darts Masters back in February when he was beaten by Mervyn King having previously eliminated Kim Huybrechts.
  • Petersen is making his European Championship debut this year. He has previously featured at three World Championships and three UK Open final tournaments.
  • His best performance in a PDC TV ranking tournament was at the UK Open in 2015 when he reached the quarter-finals before running into Michael van Gerwen.

Head to Head (They are level with 1 win each)

Both of the two previous meetings between Mervyn King and Devon Petersen came during this year with each player having a win to their name. As has been mentioned above, King won their match at the Dutch Darts Masters, more recently Petersen won a last leg decider at a Players Championship tournament in early May.

Verdict

Mervyn King has been to the business end of many big TV tournaments over the years but isn’t the consistent performer he was, in July at the Matchplay he showed what he is still capable of, but tournaments like that have been few and far between in the last couple of years. Petersen has threatened to make big strides but hasn’t risen up the rankings as quickly as he looked likely to and doesn’t come here in good form having lost 7 of his last 8 matches. I think King will use every bit of his experience and get a win in this game.

 

smith-v-bunting

Michael Smith

  • Michael Smith finished tied for 8th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £31,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a final appearance at the Austrian Darts Open in June when he was beaten by Phil Taylor; Smith also reached the semi-finals at the German Darts Masters.
  • Smith is appearing at the European Championships for the 3rd consecutive year having made his debut in 2014 when he lost 6-2 in the round one to Brendan Dolan.
  • Last year he defeated Gerwyn Price in the opening round before losing 10-5 to Phil Taylor in a match where Smith was averaging around a 100 for most of the game.
  • Smith’s defeat in the first round of the World Grand Prix earlier this month ended a run where he had won his first match in his previous 7 PDC TV ranking tournaments.

Stephen Bunting

  • Stephen Bunting finished 14th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £21,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the European Darts Open in late July when he was beaten by Peter Wright, Bunting had earlier defeated Michael Smith in that tournament.
  • Bunting is also appearing at the tournament for the 3rd time having made his debut in 2014 when he progressed through to the quarter-finals defeating Phil Taylor 10-9 in the process before losing to Terry Jenkins.
  • Last year he came through a tough first round match against Ian White in a game which went the full 11 legs. In the second round he was eliminated by Dave Chisnall.
  • In March he won his 2nd PDC ranking tournament, along the way he defeated Robert Thornton, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen.

Head to Head (Bunting leads 4-2)

Stephen Bunting has won each of their last 4 meetings, including the two matches they have contested during 2016; both of which were on the European Tour. They have met twice in PDC major ranking tournaments previously with Bunting coming out on top at the World Championships in late 2014 and at the UK Open in 2015. Both of Smith’s wins against Bunting were back in 2014.

Verdict

Smith and Bunting both come from the same part of the UK and know each other’s game very well, they both play at a pace which will suit the others rhythm and it should make for a good game. There is no doubting they both possess excellent talent but I think it’s fair to say that on the whole their results during 2016 haven’t always matched up to what they should, even though Bunting has of course won a ranking tournament. They are both proven winners and on their day can go deep into any tournament but hitting a consistent level can be difficult for the pair. Bunting has won their last 4 meetings and I think he will stretch that to 5 wins in a row in this match.

 

hopp-v-van-de-pas

Max Hopp

  • Max Hopp finished tied for 24th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a quarter-final appearance at the European Matchplay when he was beaten by Peter Wright having previously eliminated Ian White and Terry Jenkins.
  • This is the 3rd time that Hopp has qualified for the European Championship; he made his debut in 2013 and participated again last year.
  • He has yet to win a match at the tournament, in 2013 he was beaten by Paul Nicholson and last year was defeated by Cristo Reyes.
  • Hopp will be aiming to get further than the Last 32 in a PDC TV major ranking tournament for the first time.

Benito van de Pas

  • Benito van de Pas finished 10th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £26,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the International Darts Open in early September when he lost to Kim Huybrechts, van de Pas also registered a further two quarter-final appearances.
  • This is the 3rd consecutive year that he has qualified for the European Championship since making his tournament debut in 2014.
  • Van de Pas has lost 6-5 in the first round in each of the last 2 years, in 2014 he lost to Peter Wright and last year he was defeated by Adrian Lewis.
  • He enters the tournament in good form having won a Players Championship tournament last Saturday, that was his 3rd ranking tournament win of 2016 and he has also appeared in 2 other ranking finals.

Head to Head (van de Pas leads 3-1)

Max Hopp won their first ever match back in 2012 but since then van de Pas has won each of their last 3 encounters. Their most significant, and also their last meeting came in December 2015 at the World Championships when van de Pas won 3-1.

Verdict

They are the two youngest players in the tournament but they have both been around the darting circuit for a number of years and have experience that belies their ages. Benito van de Pas is lot further ahead in terms of darting progression than Max Hopp is and carries the confidence of having won 3 ranking tournaments this year. I expect van de Pas to have too much ability and experience for Hopp and think he will progress to round two.

 

Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)

klaasen-v-west

Jelle Klaasen

  • Jelle Klaasen finished tied for 8th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £31,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a final appearance at the German Darts Championship earlier this month when he lost in a last leg decider against Alan Norris. Klaasen made it through to the quarter-finals in 3 other tournaments but lost out to Michael van Gerwen on each occasion.
  • Klaasen played in the first ever European Championship tournament back in 2008 and has only failed to qualify on one occasion since then. His best run at the tournament came in 2009 when he reached the semi-finals before falling to Phil Taylor; he has reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 3 years. Last year Klaasen defeated Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade on his way to the quarter-finals where he was stopped by Gary Anderson.
  • Overall he has only failed to get part the first round once (that was in 2011 vs Chisnall). His last 4 wins in opening round at this tournament have all been by a score of 6-4.
  • Since reaching consecutive TV ranking semi-finals at the World Championship and UK Open earlier this year Klassen has lost in the first round at both the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix.

Steve West

  • Steve West finished 23rd on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a quarter-final appearance at the German Darts Championship where he defeated Stephen Bunting and Kim Huybrechts before losing to the eventual champion Alan Norris.
  • This is the first time that West has qualified for the European Championship. Earlier this month West also made his World Grand Prix debut and it proved to be a memorable debut as he knocked out Phil Taylor in the opening round.
  • West reached his first PDC ranking final in September at a Players Championship tournament; he only lost that final in a last leg decider to Michael van Gerwen.

Head to Head (Klaasen leads 5-1)

Jelle Klaasen may hold a winning head to head record against Steve West but in their last encounter, which was played in May of this year it was West who came out on top, winning 6-1 at a Players Championship tournament. This will be their first meeting on the TV stage.

Verdict

Jelle Klaasen has a good record at this tournament having reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 3 years and comes here in good form having had a good run to the final of the German Darts Championship earlier this month, Klassen would have finished higher in the Euro Tour rankings but for running into an inspired van Gerwen on more than one occasion. Steve West is playing some excellent darts in 2016 and his recent results have started to reflect this, he has proven he can hold his nerve on the big TV stage when he knocked Phil Taylor out of the World Grand Prix. This match has the potential to be high scoring and highly entertaining, I make Klaasen the favourite but rule Steve West out at your peril he is a huge threat and it would not be a big shock if he won.

 

huybrechts-v-wilson

Kim Huybrechts

  • Kim Huybrechts finished 5th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £38,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was an appearance in the final of the International Darts Open where he lost 6-5 to Mensur Suljovic. Huybrechts was very consistent on the Euro Tour reaching 4 other semi-finals but was beaten by Michael van Gerwen in all 4 of those semi-finals.
  • Huybrechts is returning to the European Championship for the 6th having qualified each year since making his debut in 2011. He progressed through to the quarter-finals on his debut year before losing narrowly 10-8 to Adrian Lewis. A year later he went a step further and reached the semi-finals only to lose 11-9 to eventual champion Simon Whitlock.
  • The only time he has failed to get past round one was in 2013 when he lost 6-4 to defending champion Simon Whitlock.
  • His run to the quarter-finals at the recent World Grand Prix was only the second time he had made it through to a TV major ranking quarter-final since he reached the Players Championship finals back in December 2012.

James Wilson

  • James Wilson finished tied for 24th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the International Darts Open in early September where he lost to the eventual champion Mensur Suljovic.
  • Wilson will be making his European Championship debut in this match.
  • It is only the 4th PDC TV ranking tournament he has featured in since switching from the BDO in 2015; he has won at least one match in each of the previous three.
  • Wilson appeared in 3 consecutive ranking semi-finals in August/September and then went on to reach his first final which came at a Players Championship tournament later in September; he was beaten by Michael van Gerwen in that final.

Head to Head (Huybrechts leads 2-0)

Kim Huybrechts has won both of their previous meetings, both of which came back in 2015, he triumphed 6-2 in a UK Open qualifier and 6-4 at a Players Championship tournament. This will be their first ever meeting on the TV stage.

Verdict

Both of these players have won plenty of matches over the last 3 months, Huybrechts in particular was in blistering form from July to October, though his results have tailed off a little in the past few weeks. Wilson is in his best form since switching from the BDO in early 2015 and is now showing his true potential. It’s all set up for an excellent match of high quality, I think if they both play their top game then Huybrechts has the edge but I think Wilson has the capability to be more consistent. Over a first to 6 legs format I think there is some value on Wilson to win this match.

 

chisnall-v-k-anderson

Dave Chisnall

  • Dave Chisnall finished 6th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £38,000, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were runs to the final at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy and the European Matchplay which were played in consecutive weeks back in May. Chisnall also reached the semi-finals at the German Darts Championship earlier this month where he lost to Jelle Klaasen.
  • Chisnall is appearing at this tournament for the 6th time since making his debut in 2011. His best appearances in the tournament have been two quarter-final appearances in 2014 and 2015, Chisnall lost to the eventual champion Michael van Gerwen on both occasions.
  • His only first round defeat at the European Championship came in 2013 when he was beaten 6-0 by Jamie Caven.
  • Three of his five defeats at the tournament have been against the eventual winner (van Gerwen twice and Simon Whitlock), he also lost to Adrian Lewis in 2011 who then went on to reach the final.
  • Only once since the Players Championship finals in November 2014 has Chisnall failed to win his opening match at a PDC major TV ranking tournament, that defeat was at the UK Open earlier this year when he lost to Gary Anderson.

Kyle Anderson

  • Kyle Anderson finished tied for 20th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £12,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a run to the semi-finals at the Austrian Darts Open in June where he defeated Michael van Gerwen before losing in a last leg decider to the eventual champion Phil Taylor.
  • This is the first time that Kyle Anderson has qualified for the European Championship.
  • Anderson hasn’t failed to get past the first round in any of the last 4 PDC major TV ranking tournaments, and he had an impressive run to the quarter-finals at the UK Open in March.

Head to Head (Chisnall leads 7-1)

This will be the 9th time that Chisnall and Anderson have met since 2014 and Chisnall has an excellent record having won 7 of their 8 encounters so far. Kyle Anderson’s sole win came in February of this year at a UK Open qualifier but since then Chisnall has won 3 in a row, the most recent of which was in July at a Players Championship tournament that Chisnall then went on to win.

Verdict

Two excellent 180 scorers clash in what should be another unmissable first round match. Kyle Anderson is a dangerous outsider in this game but the fact Chisnall has such a good record in their previous meetings can’t be ignored. Anderson has proven he can live with the best on the big stage and over this short format is definitely capable. Chisnall hasn’t often slipped up in the opening round of TV tournaments over the last couple of years though and I think his extra experience and past record against Anderson will see him through what is a very tough first round fixture.

 

suljovic-v-wattimena

Mensur Suljovic

  • Mensur Suljovic finished 2nd on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £60,500, as you would expect from that ranking he had some excellent results on the European Tour circuit in 2016, he won the International Darts Open in early September which was his first PDC ranking tournament success, he very nearly repeated the feat a week later at the European Darts Trophy but lost 6-5 in the final to Michael van Gerwen. Suljovic also registered 2 other semi-final appearances on the Euro Tour in 2016.
  • Suljovic is no stranger to the European Championship having made his tournament debut back in 2008 and he has only failed to qualify on one occasion since then.
  • He reached the Last 16 in 2008 and 2009 but since then he has failed to progress past the first round in his last 5 attempts. His only wins at the tournament came against Roland Scholten having met the Dutchman in the first round in both 2008 and 2009.
  • His first round defeat at the World Grand Prix was only the second time that he failed to win his opening match in his last nine PDC TV ranking tournaments.

Jermaine Wattimena

  • Jermaine Wattimena finished tied for 24th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,000, he qualified for 7 of the 10 events on the 2016 European Tour circuit but failed to make it to the Last 16 in any of the 7 tournaments.
  • Wattimena is making his European Championship debut; he has previously featured at the World Championship and UK Open but has yet to reach the Last 32 stage in either of those tournaments.
  • Last month he had his best run in a PDC ranking tournament when he reached the semi-finals of a Players Championship tournament before losing to James Wilson; on his way to the semi-finals he defeated Peter Wright and Jelle Klaasen.

Head to Head (Suljovic leads 2-0)

They have met two times previously over the last year with Suljovic taking the honours on each occasion. Their first meeting was last December at the World Championships where Suljovic won 3 sets to 1, most recently they faced each other on the European Tour in May at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy with Suljovic winning 6-2.

Verdict

Suljovic is one of the toughest competitors on the circuit and one of the most consistent players over the last couple of years, it is rare that he falls at the first hurdle and he never gives anyone an easy game, the fact he finished 2nd on the Euro Tour Order of Merit speaks for itself. Wattimena didn’t make an impact in any of the Euro Tour events this season and although he reached the semi-finals of a ranking tournament recently he hasn’t shown a lot this year to suggest he is capable of overturning Suljovic in this match.

 

wright-v-pipe

Peter Wright

  • Peter Wright finished 3rd on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £51,500, he reached the final at 3 tournaments on the European Tour circuit but came up just short against Michael van Gerwen in all 3 finals, the closest he came was at the European Darts Open when he lost in a last leg decider.
  • Wright is competing at the European Championships for the 5th time; he reached the semi-finals last year but was edged out by van Gerwen 11-7.
  • He has only failed to reach the quarter-finals on one occasion, which was in 2013 when he lost in the opening round to Colin Lloyd.
  • Wright has lost in the opening round only 2 times in his last 14 PDC TV major ranking tournaments, both defeats were at the World Grand Prix where earlier this month he lost in the first round to Brendan Dolan.

Pipe

  • Justin Pipe finished tied for 28th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £9,500, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were Last 16 appearances at the Dutch Darts Masters and the German Darts Championship, Pipe lost to Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall in those tournaments.
  • Pipe made his European Championship debut in 2011 and has been an ever present at the tournament since then. He has yet to get further than the Last 16, last year he was beaten by Adrian Lewis at that stage of the tournament.
  • He has only managed to get further than the Last 32 in 2 of his last 15 PDC TV major ranking tournaments and hasn’t appeared in a TV ranking quarter-final since December 2013.
  • He comes into this tournament in the best form he has shown for a couple of years having reached 3 quarter-finals and 1 semi-final in his last 8 ranking events.

Head to Head (Wright leads 6-5)

Peter Wright just has the edge on their head to head win record but Justin Pipe has won each of their last 2 matches, both of which were played in 2016, the most recent being only a matter of days ago when Pipe defeated Wright 6-5 in the quarter-finals of the Players Championship tournament last Saturday. Their only previous TV meeting saw Pipe win 10-7 at the Masters in 2014.

Verdict

If this match was played 6 months ago I would say that Peter Wright would have been the definite winner against an out of form Justin Pipe, but this is no longer the case as Pipe has been gradually winning more and more matches and is a big threat to the higher ranked player. As mentioned above Pipe has won each of their last 2 meetings during 2016 and he has a genuine chance of making it 3 in a row. I would still make Wright the favourite and think he is the more likely winner but no way can Pipe be written off.

 

norris-v-taylor

Alan Norris

  • Alan Norris finished 7th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £37,500, he won the German Darts Championship earlier this month defeating Jelle Klaasen in the final, that tournament was the only Euro Tour event in 2016 in which he managed to get past the Last 16.
  • Norris made his European Championship debut last year, he was beaten 6-3 by Peter Wright in the opening round on that occasion.
  • Since losing in the first round here last year only once has Norris failed to win his opening match in a PDC TV major ranking tournament, the defeat came against Gary Anderson at the World Matchplay.
  • His win at the German Darts Championship was his second ranking tournament victory since joining the PDC at the start of last year; he also reached the final of a UK Open qualifier earlier this year.

Phil Taylor

  • Phil Taylor finished 11th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £25,000, all of that prize money was gained in winning the Austrian Darts Open in June, that tournament was the only Euro Tour event he competed at during 2016, though he did lose in qualification for the European Matchplay.
  • Taylor has maintained his ever present record at the European Championship with qualification this year.
  • He won the tournament in each of the first four years it was held before his 22 match winning run at the tournament was halted in the quarter-finals in 2012 by Brendan Dolan and since then he has failed to get further than the quarter-final stage.
  • In each of the last 2 years he has exited the tournament in a last leg deciding match, losing 10-9 in 2014 to Stephen Bunting and 10-9 in 2015 to Adrian Lewis.

Head to Head (Taylor leads 2-0)

Phil Taylor and Alan Norris are meeting for the first time on the TV stage and this is also their first encounter since Taylor won 6-1 in a quarter-final clash at a UK Open qualifier in February 2015, Taylor went on to win that tournament.

Verdict

Alan Norris managed to secure a spot as the 7th seed at the tournament but must be ruing his luck in earning a first round draw against Phil Taylor. It’s been an excellent rise up the rankings for Norris since he joined the PDC, having won 2 ranking tournaments and he won’t fear the challenge ahead. Taylor isn’t finished in winning TV tournaments as he showed at the Champions League of Darts last month but over a short format of best of 11 legs he is more vulnerable and only early this month suffered an early exit at the World Grand Prix against Steve West. I expect a good effort from Norris but think Taylor will be determined to start well and will indeed do just that and take his place in the Last 16.

 

van-gerwen-v-whitlock

Michael van Gerwen

  • Michael van Gerwen qualified for the European Championship as the number one seed having topped the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £160,500 in prize money; van Gerwen won 6 of the 10 European Tour events during 2016.
  • Van Gerwen is on a 10 match winning streak at the European Championships having won the tournament in each of the last 2 years. In last year’s final he recovered from 10-7 down to defeat Gary Anderson 11-10. The last player to have beaten van Gerwen in this tournament was Adrian Lewis in the 2013 semi-finals.
  • Van Gerwen has lost in the first round of the European Championship in only 1 of his 7 previous appearances at the tournament (that defeat came against Ronnie Baxter in 2011).
  • The last time van Gerwen was beaten in the first round of a PDC TV major ranking tournament was back in December 2011 at the Players Championship Finals when he was defeated 6-0 by Gary Anderson.
  • Van Gerwen is aiming to win his 4th PDC TV major ranking tournament in a row having already captured the UK Open, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix titles during this season. In total he has won 8 of the last 10 PDC TV major ranking tournaments played.

Simon Whitlock

  • Simon Whitlock finished 16th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £18,500 in prize money, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were quarter-final appearances at the Dutch Darts Masters and the International Darts Open.
  • Whitlock is one of only four men to have previously won the European Championship; he triumphed back in 2012 when he defeated Wes Newton in the final. He again made it to the final in 2013 but lost out to Adrian Lewis on that occasion.
  • He has lost in the first round of the European Championship in only 1 of his 6 previous appearances at the tournament; that sole defeat was in 2014 against Raymond van Barneveld.
  • Whitlock reached the quarter-finals at the World Grand Prix earlier this month, which was only his second appearance in a PDC TV major ranking quarter-final since July 2014 when he reached the semi-finals at the World Matchplay.
  • He has two ranking tournament wins to his name this season, both came at Players Championship tournaments played during October. On his way to winning the first tournament he defeated van Gerwen 6-3 in the last 16.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 21-5)

Michael van Gerwen has a big lead in their overall head to head record and has only lost 1 of their last 15 encounters going back to April 2013. Whitlock’s last win against van Gerwen was a recent one though having beaten van Gerwen in early October, van Gerwen has since avenged that result when he defeated Whitlock in the quarter-finals at the World Grand Prix on his way to winning the title.

Verdict

Michael van Gerwen has won this tournament in each of the last 2 years and on the whole has been sweeping up TV major ranking tournaments over the last couple of years but he faces very tough opposition against Simon Whitlock, himself a former winner of this event. Whitlock is a man very much in form having won two tournaments recently, the confidence and belief has really risen in Whitlock and having beaten van Gerwen recently he will genuinely believe he can win. MvG isn’t the best player in the world for nothing though and he is capable of ridiculously good darts and he starts as the favourite against any player in the world. My opinion is that the way Whitlock has been playing is that he can push van Gerwen all the way in this match, it would be an upset if van Gerwen lost but it wouldn’t be a massive shock due to the short format of the match and the fact Whitlock has been playing so well. A match really not to be missed!

 

wade-v-g-anderson

James Wade

  • James Wade finished 4th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £41,000 in prize money, he won the European Matchplay in May, notably beating Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen before defeating Dave Chisnall in a last leg decider in the final.
  • Wade has competed each year at the European Championship since the tournament started in 2008, his best run came in 2009 when he reached the semi-finals only to lose a last leg decider to Steve Beaton.
  • Wade has failed to get past the Last 16 at the European Championships since reaching the quarter-finals in 2011.
  • He failed to win his opening match at the UK Open, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix during 2016. It’s the first time he has lost his opening match in 3 consecutive PDC major ranking TV tournaments since 2012.

Gary Anderson

  • Gary Anderson finished 19th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £14,000 in prize money, Anderson only competed at 5 of the 10 events on the European Tour circuit in 2016, his best performances were quarter-final appearances at the German Darts Masters, the Gibraltar Darts Trophy and the European Darts Open
  • Anderson is competing at the European Championships for the 6th time, last year he had his best run in the tournament when he reached the final beating former champions Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis along the way before losing to 11-10 Michael van Gerwen despite having led 10-7.
  • Prior to last year Anderson had won only 3 matches at the European Championship, he won 4 in reaching the 2015 final.
  • Anderson has lost his opening match in only 2 of the last 23 PDC major ranking TV tournaments he has played in.

Head to Head (Anderson leads 28-13)

Gary Anderson has a very good record against James Wade over their previous head to head meetings and has only lost 2 of their last 16 encounters (though they did draw 3 times in the Premier League during this period). Wade recorded back to back wins over Anderson earlier this year but it was Anderson who claimed victory in their last meeting at the Champions League of Darts in September.

Verdict

James Wade vs Gary Anderson in the opening round is a brutally tough match for both players. James Wade in particular deserved better having finished 4th in the Euro Tour rankings. Although Anderson has a very good head to head record against Wade, I do think the fact Wade has won 2 of their recent matches does make the big lead Anderson has less relevant. This match could really go either way and it’s a match I am happy to sit on the fence on, I’ll just sit back and enjoy two top class players hopefully playing their best over the full 11 legs.

 

It’s all set for a good action packed day of darts, don’t forget to catch me on twitter @3dartanalyst as I will be tweeting out more stats and facts over the weekend.

Thanks for reading!

World Grand Prix Final Preview

It’s the world number one versus the current world champion in the World Grand Prix final tonight. Michael van Gerwen is chasing his 3rd Grand Prix title whilst Gary Anderson is in his 1st Grand Prix final.

This will be only the 5th time that top two seeds have made it through to the final here at the Grand Prix and the first time since 2008 when Phil Taylor the number one seed defeated the number two seed Raymond van Barneveld.

Previous Grand Prix Finals between the Top 2 Seeds

2002 – Phil Taylor (1) bt John Part (2)

2003 – Phil Taylor (1) bt John Part (2)

2005 – Phil Taylor (2) bt Colin Lloyd (1)

2008 – Phil Taylor (1) bt Raymond van Barneveld (2)

Here is my preview for tonight’s final.

van-gerwen-v-anderson

Michael van Gerwen

  • Van Gerwen came through a tough encounter with Dave Chisnall in the semi-finals, the match was evenly poised at 2-2 and although MvG took the final 2 sets they both went to a deciding leg and Chisnall had led 2-0 in the 6th set requiring just 1 leg to make it 3 sets all.
  • The finishing of MvG has been impressive throughout the tournament, he hit 50% of his finishing doubles against Chisnall, and overall his tournament checkout % is over 51%.
  • His average against Chizzy was nearly a 100 and he has yet to average under 97 at this year’s tournament, his overall match average across his 4 matches is over 99.
  • This is van Gerwen’s 3rd consecutive appearance in the final of the World Grand Prix and overall the 4th time he has made it through to the final at the tournament. He won the tournament in 2012 and 2014 but lost last year against Robert Thornton.
  • He has reached the final of 15 PDC TV major ranking tournaments prior to this one and has only finished runner-up in 3 of them.

Gary Anderson

  • In his semi-final Anderson defeated Raymond van Barneveld 4-1. With the match level at 1-1 van Barneveld went 2-0 up in the 3rd set before Anderson stepped up a gear and went on to win 9 of the next 12 legs to book his place in the final.
  • Anderson struggled on his starting doubles in his previous match against Huybrechts but against Barney in the semi-final he was very impressive hitting with his first dart in 15 of the 23 legs and only once failing to get away within his first 3 darts.
  • As well as the formidable starting his scoring was also a massive strength, he averaged 112 over his first 9 darts.
  • He has taken out some key ton plus checkouts so far in the tournament, and this was again evident against van Barneveld he won a set with a 148 out and another set with a 104.
  • This is Anderson’s first ever appearance in the final at the World Grand Prix.
  • He is through to his 8th PDC TV major ranking tournament final. Of the previous 7 he has won 3, but those 3 wins did come within his last 4 finals.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 21-13)

Michael van Gerwen has the overall advantage in their head to head meetings, but if you take their last 10 encounters Anderson has won 5, van Gerwen 4 with 1 draw in the Premier League. They have met in 7 finals during their career Anderson winning 4 and van Gerwen winning 3. Their last encounter was only 2 weeks ago at the Champions League of Darts when van Gerwen won 11-5 in the semi-finals.

 

As it’s the final I have produced some extra head to head tournament stats for van Gerwen and Anderson.

Firstly take a look at legs won/lost when throwing first.

won_lost-own-throw

Michael van Gerwen has been more dominant on his own through than Anderson has, during the tournament van Gerwen has won 76% of all legs where he has thrown first compared to Anderson’s 69%.

Now for legs won/lost against the throw.

won_lost-against-throw

Looking at when they have thrown second in a leg and it is Anderson who has the edge throughout the tournament, overall MvG has a 50/50 record against throw whereas Anderson has won 62% of all legs on his opponents throw.

Next the starting doubles.

Here’s how both players have fared at hitting their starting double in the 1st dart, 1st 2 darts and 1st 3 darts of a leg.

starting-double-success

MvG has the edge on hitting a starting double with his first dart of the leg having done so in over 53% of the legs he has played, Anderson in comparison has hit with his first dart nearly 8% less than van Gerwen. Things improve for Anderson within the next two darts though as overall he has managed to get away within 2 darts more frequently than MvG and also more frequently within the 1st 3 darts of a leg.

A look at the next chart shows which particular double they have started a leg with.

starting-doubles-hit-during-tournament

This shows Anderson has been much more reliant on Double 20 as his starting double as only 6 of the starting doubles he has hit in the tournament have been aimed away from this area (the 3 Double 1 hits were of course when he was going for tops!). MvG has been deadly on the Double 20 start but if missing with his first or second dart he has opted to switch across to Double 18 more than Anderson has.

Moving on to darts thrown to win a leg

darts-thown-in-winning-legs

They have both had an equal amount of legs won in 12 darts or less but in the 13 to 15 dart winning legs van Gerwen has the advantage, if this carries through to the final will it give MvG the edge?

Now the tournament checkouts produced by both players during the Grand Prix.

tournament-checkouts

Anderson has 4 checkouts higher than van Gerwen’s highest tournament checkout of 118.

Next it’s the most frequently attempted finishing doubles.

most-frequent-finishing-doubles

Looking at the above chart it is evident how impressive van Gerwen has been on his main choice of finishing doubles during this tournament, his Double 20 hitting of 72.7% is amazing consistency (which is just as well as he has underperformed on D10!), Double 16 has also been a very happy hunting ground for MvG. Anderson’s Double 20 hitting hasn’t been bad but he would usually hope to be 50% or more on it, the most surprising stat is the amount of Double 16’s than Anderson has attempted as he rarely finds himself in that area of the board, most of those Double 16 attempts did come in his match vs Kyle Anderson though.

All that’s left now is my verdict.

Verdict

The top 2 seeds clash in the final and what a final it promises to be with both players looking in red hot form, barring Anderson’s performance vs Huybrechts they have both played to a very high level throughout the tournament. As well as the title there is the fact they will be so desperate to beat their opponent and prove who is the best, it’s just all set up to be a classic final and could be the best final in the history of this tournament. MvG starts as the favourite and that isn’t a surprise but Anderson has stepped up in big matches against him and shown when he is at his best he can go toe to toe with the world number one. I am tipping van Gerwen to get the win in a match that will have plenty of twists and turns and isn’t one to be missed!

World Grand Prix Semi-Finals Preview

Friday night at the 2016 World Grand Prix is semi-final night. The top two seeds Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson remain on course to meet in the final but former Grand Prix finalists Dave Chisnall and Raymond van Barneveld stand in their way.

Here are my previews for both semi-finals.

van-gerwen-v-chisnall

van Gerwen

  • In his 3-1 win over Simon Whitlock in the quarter-finals Michael van Gerwen came through his toughest test in the tournament so far, van Gerwen was pushed all the way but responded in impressive fashion.
  • His match average against Whitlock was 103 and over the first 9 darts it was an outstanding 111, his scoring throughout the match was relentless.
  • On his starting doubles vs Whitlock he never failed to get away within his first 3 darts and only once did he fail to hit a starting double within his first 2 darts.
  • His overall tournament average is just under a 100 and he has hit over 50% of his attempts at both starting doubles and finishing doubles.
  • This is van Gerwen’s 4th appearance in the semi-finals at the Grand Prix; he hasn’t been beaten at this stage of the tournament and has only dropped 2 sets in the 15 sets he has played in those semi-final matches.
  • MVG has won his last 8 PDC major ranking semi-finals since losing Anderson in the 2015 World Championship semi-final.

Chisnall

  • Chisnall won 3-1 against Daryl Gurney to book his place in the semi-finals, after winning a tight first set 3-2 he took control winning the second set 3-0 before Gurney fought back to take the third set 3-0, Chisnall responded well winning the fourth set 3-2.
  • Only once in the match against Gurney did Chisnall fail to hit a starting double within his first 3 darts and impressively he hit with his 1st dart in 9 of the 16 legs.
  • His finishing double % vs Gurney was his lowest of the tournament so far at 36% but he was only punished for missed double in 2 legs.
  • Chisnall has made it through to his 2nd Grand Prix semi-final; in his previous appearance back in 2013 he defeated Justin Pipe 5-2 having beaten van Gerwen in the quarter-finals.
  • This is his 1st appearance in a PDC major ranking semi-final since he reached the last 4 here in 2013. He lost his only other PDC major ranking semi-final at the UK Open in 2012 to eventual champion Robert Thornton.
  • He has played in other non-ranked big TV tournament semi-finals most notably at the Grand Slam, Premier League and earlier this year at the Masters.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 31-9)

Michael van Gerwen has enjoyed a lot of dominance over Chisnall in their previous meetings, they have already played 11 times during 2016 and MVG has won 10 of them (including each of the last 9). Chisnall’s only ever win on TV against van Gerwen was at the Grand Prix in 2013. Since then van Gerwen has won 16 of 17 TV matches they have played (the remaining game was a draw in the Premier League).

Verdict

van Gerwen has responded in champion fashion to the questions asked of him so far in this tournament, when Beaton took the opening set of their first round match he picked his game up a level and when Whitlock pushed him hard in the quarter-finals he again picked up his game to another level, the scoring of MVG throughout the tournament has been brutal and he will take some stopping. Chisnall of course has history of defeating van Gerwen at the Grand Prix but he hasn’t had much success against him since that match, if Chisnall gets in a rhythm he can push van Gerwen but it usually just makes MVG rise to the next level. I think the world number one will win and go one step further to winning his third World Grand Prix title.

 

anderson-v-van-barneveld

Anderson

  • Anderson came from a set behind to defeat Kim Huybrechts in the quarter-finals. Anderson lost the opening set 3-0 without having a shot at a double to win a leg, he produced checkouts of 124 and 141 from nowhere in the 2nd set to get back into the match and won the next two sets to come through 3 sets to 1.
  • The win against Huybrechts was Anderson’s worst performance of the tournament so far, he really struggled to get his range on double top to start legs and overall his match average was 13 points behind the numbers he produced in the opening two rounds.
  • He only hit a single 180 against Huybrechts (that came in the final leg of the match).
  • This is his 2nd World Grand Prix semi-final; his previous appearance was in 2014 when he lost 4-3 to James Wade on a last leg decider having led 2-0 and 3-1 in sets.
  • Anderson has now reached the semi-finals in 3 of the last 4 PDC TV major ranking tournaments, he has only lost 1 of his last 5 major ranking semi-finals though that defeat was he last appearance in one (in July at the Matchplay).

van Barneveld

  • van Barneveld dropped just 1 leg in his 3-0 win over Benito van de Pas in the quarter-finals. That means Barney hasn’t lost a set during this year’s tournament and has only conceded 7 legs in 3 matches.
  • His finishing was again impressive in his last match, he has now had a checkout percentage of 50% or greater in each game his has played in this year’s tournament.
  • This is his 5th appearance in a World Grand Prix semi-final but his first since 2010. He has won 2 and lost 2 of the previous 4. His defeats were both against James Wade by a 5-1 score. His wins were against Mervyn King (5-0) and Andy Hamilton (5-2), meaning none of his semi-finals were close affairs.
  • Barney has failed to win in his last 8 PDC TV ranking semi-finals; the last time he won in one was way back in 2010 at the World Matchplay.

Head to Head (Anderson leads 15-14)

There isn’t a lot to separate them on their overall head to head meetings but perhaps significantly Anderson has won each of their 8 encounters stretching back to April 2015. This is actually only their 2nd meeting in a major ranking tournament since the World Championship in December 2012 (Barney won that match 4-0), the most recent in a major ranking tournament was at the Grand Slam last November when Anderson won 5-3 in a group stage match.

Verdict

Anderson looked in imperious form during the first two rounds but against Huybrechts was out of sorts, I think that was just a blip and expect him to be back to form for this game, he has a very strong recent record against Barney and the big motivation of reaching his first Grand Prix final should lift him. Barney carried on his excellent form through his quarter-final match and is looking in great shape coming into this game, the composure and belief he is showing during the tournament is impressive and if he keeps this up he poses a huge threat. It’s a hard match to predict and that makes it very watchable. The bookies have Anderson as favourite but with the mentality van Barneveld is showing this week he can’t be ruled out. I’m going to sit on the fence and just enjoy the game!

 

World Grand Prix Quarter-Finals Preview

Eight players remain at the 2016 World Grand Prix and all four quarter-finals will be decided this evening.

Here are my previews for tonight’s matches.

chisnall-v-gurney

Chisnall

  • Dave Chisnall won 3-1 against Brendan Dolan in the Last 16. Chizzy took control of the match by breaking Dolan twice in the opening set to win in 3-0 the next 3 sets were tighter and all finished 3-2.
  • It was a patchy performance from Chisnall in his win vs Dolan; he produced some very good legs on his own throw but was inconsistent on the Dolan throw as the match progressed.
  • A positive for Chisnall was his scoring, he hit 6x 180’s and his first 9 dart average was up 20 points from his opening match against Green.
  • Chisnall is through to his 2nd Grand Prix quarter-final, the previous time he made it this far was in 2013 when he defeated defending champion van Gerwen 3-2 on his way to the final.
  • Since he reached the final here in 2013 he has played in 6 major ranking quarter-finals and lost in each one, in fairness five of those defeats came against van Gerwen and one against Phil Taylor.

Gurney

  • Gurney didn’t drop a set in his Last 16 win over Steve West, though it was closer than the score suggests as all 3 sets went to a deciding leg. All but one leg of the match went with throw; Gurney breaking the West throw in the last leg of the 2nd set was the only break in the whole match.
  • His finishing against West proved to be the difference, Gurney had a checkout percentage of 56% with was a big improvement compared to 28% in his opening match against Suljovic.
  • Gurney has won just 3 of his legs in the tournament in 15 darts or less, this is the lowest amount of any of the 8 players left in the event.
  • This is his 2nd appearance in a PDC major ranking quarter-final; in his previous one he defeated van de Pas 10-5 to reach the semi-finals at last year’s Players Championship Finals.

Head to Head (Gurney leads 4-2)

Gurney has a winning record against Chisnall; this is the first time they have played since October 2015 when Chisnall won 6-1 in a Players Championship tournament. Their only previous meeting on the TV stage was in December 2012 at the World Championship with Chisnall coming out on top 4 sets to 1. Gurney won their first encounter back in their BDO days at the 2008 World Masters.

Verdict

A match between two prolific 180 hitters, with this game being a double start format we may not see the full extent of their maximum hitting prowess but I still expect a good number. Chisnall has much more experience of reaching this stage of big tournaments and will probably be glad he isn’t facing MVG for a change! Chizzy has shown the good and bad of his game during this year’s tournament, sometimes struggling to get away but then very capable of hitting 100+ starts when he does get away with his first dart. Gurney needs to increase his scoring with his first 3 darts to trouble Chisnall in my opinion; although he has a decent record of getting away in his first visit he hasn’t been producing big scores within those 3 darts. I think Chisnall will win this match but Gurney will be hard to shake off, he has looked very composed during the tournament so far and it will take a good performance from Chisnall to shake him off.

 

van-de-pas-vs-van-barneveld

van de Pas

  • Benito van de Pas came from a set down in round two against Terry Jenkins to win 3-1 and book his place in the Last 8. It wasn’t as comfortable as the set score suggests as the leg score was only 10-8 and Jenkins did miss 3 darts at double to go 2 sets to 1 up.
  • van de Pas improved in all aspects of his game in round two, his stats on starting doubles, scoring and finishing were all up on the his numbers from the first round.
  • Overall though he is still behind all the other 3 players in his half of the draw on both starting doubles and scoring and only very marginally ahead of Anderson on finishing.
  • This is only his 2nd appearance in a PDC major ranking quarter-final; in his previous one at the Players Championship Finals in December 2015 he lost to Daryl Gurney.
  • Overall during the 2016 season this is his 13th ranking quarter-final, he has won 8 of the previous 12.

van Barneveld

  • Barney won 3-0 against number 3 seed Adrian Lewis in the last round, van Barneveld took advantage after Lewis missed 5 darts to win the opening set and went on to drop only 1 leg in the next 2 sets.
  • His performance against Lewis was excellent all round, he never took more than 2 darts to hit a starting double (in total he hit 12 of 17 attempts), his average over his first 9 darts was over 105 and his checkout percentage was over 52%.
  • During the tournament he has hit his starting double with his first dart over 50% of the time and has a checkout percentage of over 51%.
  • This is van Barneveld’s 5th World Grand Prix quarter-final, his first since 2010; he has won each of his 4 previous quarter-final matches at the tournament (with a combined set record of Won 16 Lost 5).
  • He has only lost 1 of his last 7 PDC major ranking tournament quarter-finals and won each of his last 4. His last defeat in the quarter-final of a PDC major ranking tournament was against Phil Taylor at the 2013 Players Championship Finals.

Head to Head (van Barneveld leads 4-0)

Raymond van Barneveld has a 100% winning record against van de Pas; their most recent meeting was only in September in a Euro Tour quarter-final when Barney won 6-1. This will be the first time they have met in a PDC major ranking tournament.

Verdict

Based on their performance in the tournament so far van Barneveld has to be the favourite to progress to the semi-finals, the five time champion of the world has been looking in fine form and when Barney turns up in the mood to play he is capable of winning this tournament. Consistency can be an issue and the question is will Barney keep it up? Benito van de Pas has made great strides up the PDC rankings and has experience of getting over the line in the latter stages of tournaments but he hasn’t been past this stage in a major tournament yet. I think van Barneveld is fully focused this week and don’t think he will slip up here.

 

van-gerwen-v-whitlock

van Gerwen

  • Michael van Gerwen only dropped 3 legs in his 3 sets to 0 in his Last 16 win over James Wilson. MVG lost the opening leg of the match to a 156 checkout but then won 6 legs in a row to establish full control of the match and he never looked like losing that control.
  • He has averaged over 97 in both of his matches so far and has a tournament checkout percentage of over 55%.
  • In both of his matches so far he has produced a run of 6 consecutive winning legs. Overall he has won 16 of the last 18 legs he has played at this year’s Grand Prix.
  • This is van Gerwen’s 5th consecutive appearance in the quarter-finals at the World Grand Prix, 3 of his previous 4 quarter-finals have gone the full 5 sets with the only exception being last year when he defeated Jamie Lewis 3-0.
  • Since the start of the World Grand Prix in 2012 he has now reached 22 PDC major ranking quarter-finals and has only lost 2 of his previous 21.
  • He has won 15 consecutive PDC major ranking quarter-finals; the last time he lost in one was at the 2013 World Grand Prix when he was beaten by Dave Chisnall.

Whitlock

  • Whitlock was involved in a last leg decider against Alan Norris in the Last 16. Whitlock had led 2-0 having dropped only 1 leg in the opening 2 sets but was pegged back and then trailed 2-1 in the final set. A 180 followed by a 150 checkout took the match into the final leg where Whitlock then produced a 10 dart finish to win a thriller.
  • His finishing was very impressive in his match against Norris, he took out two 150 checkouts (both using different combinations) and had a 55% checkout percentage. The 10 dart finish in the final leg of the match was the best leg of this year’s tournament.
  • Whitlock is aiming to reach his first Grand Prix semi-final, the previous time he was in the quarter-finals he lost a last leg decider to James Wade having led 2 sets to 1.
  • The last time he progressed further than the quarter-finals of a PDC major ranking tournament was in 2014 at the Matchplay, his last major ranking quarter-final was in December last year at the Players Championship Finals where he lost 10-7 to Adrian Lewis.
  • He comes into this match on the back of winning 9 consecutive ranking matches having won the last Players Championship tournament coming into the Grand Prix.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 19-5)

van Gerwen has a big winning record against Whitlock in their overall head to head record but it was Whitlock who won their last meeting which came a in a ranking tournament the day before this tournament started, prior to that match MVG had won 6 consecutive matches against Whitlock during 2016 and was unbeaten since April 2013 against the Australian (a run of 13 matches). This is their first major ranking tournament meeting since the 2014 Matchplay semi-final which MVG won 17-13.

Verdict

Michael van Gerwen has looked in formidable form during his opening two matches and is odds on with the bookies to win the tournament, he has only lost 2 of his last 20 matches at the Grand Prix and those were both in the final set to inspired performances from his opponents and I feel it will take another inspired performance to defeat him at this year’s Grand Prix. Simon Whitlock has the boost of having defeated MVG in their last meeting in a match that came only days ago, the fact Whitlock also went on to win that tournament puts him in a very good frame of mind, he showed his qualities in his last leg win over Alan Norris but will need much more of that to get the better of the world number one in this game. I expect a good effort from Whitlock but I think van Gerwen will be desperate to avenge his loss last weekend and raise his game to make sure he reaches the semi-finals.

 

anderson-v-huybrechts

Anderson

  • Gary Anderson was again in excellent form during his 3-1 win over Kyle Anderson in the Last 16, he took control early on winning the opening 2 sets 3-1. He had a blip losing the 3rd set after missing 7 darts at double to win the match but responded by winning the 4th set without losing a leg.
  • His tournament average is just under 97 which for the double start format is very good, and over his first 9 darts his average is a very impressive 108.
  • Only 1 time in 23 legs played during the tournament has Anderson failed to hit a starting double within his first 3 darts.
  • If there was a weakness during his win vs Kyle Anderson it was on his finishing doubles where he missed 23 darts at a double, it wasn’t a problem when he closed out the match in the 4th set however as he won each of the final 3 legs with his first dart at double.
  • This will be Anderson’s 4th World Grand Prix quarter-final appearance, in his first two he lost to Phil Taylor, the last time he reached this stage in 2014 he won 3-2 against Kevin Painter.
  • Anderson has won each of his last 7 PDC major ranking quarter-finals, the last time he lost one was back in December 2013.

Huybrechts

  • Kim Huybrechts dropped only 2 legs on his way to defeating Stephen Bunting in the Last 16, he won the opening 5 legs of the match and then never looked likely to let his lead slip.
  • In those opening 5 legs of the match vs Bunting he hit his finishing double with his first dart in all 5 legs and hit 5 of 7 darts at starting doubles.
  • Huybrechts had a match average of 98.47 in the last round and he had a checkout percentage of over 69%.
  • His doubling throughout the tournament so far has been very effective, he has gone 23 straight legs without failing to hit a starting double within his first visit (he only failed to do so in the first two legs of his 1st round match) and his overall tournament checkout percentage is 60.7%.
  • This is his 6th appearance in a PDC major ranking quarter-final, of the previous 5 he has won 2 and lost 3. He is appearing in only his 2nd PDC major quarter final since December 2012.

Head to Head (Anderson leads 11-7)

Anderson may lead their overall head to head record but Huybrechts has won each of the last 3 matches they have played (all of these during 2016). Two of their matches this year came in quarter-finals of European Tour events with Huybrechts winning 6-5 and 6-4. Anderson won their first 6 encounters, but since the start of 2013 Huybrechts leads 7-5 on the head to head. This is the first time they have met in a major ranking tournament.

Verdict

If they play to the same levels they did in the previous round we should be in for a high quality entertaining match. Anderson looks switched on and focused and in the kind of mood when he won his World titles, the way he is starting legs, his overall scoring over the early stages of legs  means he will really take some stopping. Huybrechts looked in complete control of his game against Bunting his doubling has been top class and he just looks full of confidence, he has been playing a high standard of darts winning plenty of matches over recent months and this is showing through. This really had the potential to be a match not to be missed, I just give the edge to Anderson but Huybrechts definitely has the game to all the way and it would not be a major shock if he won.