By Mark Rawlinson
32 of the world’s top darts players come together this week as the Grand Slam of Darts gets going in Wolverhampton on Saturday afternoon.
The players are placed in eight groups of four, with the top two from each group going onto qualify for the knockout rounds, later this week.
And it’s not just the top players from the Professional Darts Corporation involved, with five stars from the World Darts Organisation also involved in the competition.
Phil Taylor comes into the tournament off the back of winning last weekend’s inaugural Masters tournament, after overcoming an under the weather Adrian Lewis in the final.
And at the age of 53, Taylor has proven he’s still got it, winning a number of titles this season, including the World Championship, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix.
His excellent season means he goes into the tournament as considerable favourite, with Stan James offering the best odds of 13/10.
Last year’s runner-up, Michael van Gerwen, has probably been the second most consistent player on the PDC tour this season.
The Dutchman won the Darts Premier League earlier this season, beating Taylor in the final, and has made the quarter and semi-final stages of a number of important tournaments this season.
Sportingbet offer the best odds on him winning the tournament outright at 5/1.
Defending champion Raymond van Barnaveld hasn’t had the best of seasons this year and will be looking to get his first piece of major silverware on the board this week.
So far this season, he’s only managed semi-final finishes at the World Championship, Premier League and UK Championship and Boylesports provide the best odds on him winning this tournament at 11/1.
My Bet of the Tournament is on Adrian Lewis, who could be a serious contender this week, especially as he’s priced at 10/1 with a number of bookies, including Coral.
He’s already won the European Championship earlier in the campaign and was narrowly defeated by close friend Taylor in the final of the World Matchplay in July.
And had it not been for a virus he picked up ahead of last weekend’s Masters tournament, he could have challenged Taylor for that, but was well beaten and visually exhausted as he lost 10-1.
Tomorrow’s Selected Matches
The action kicks off at 1pm at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Saturday afternoon and the most notable match of the afternoon session is van Barnaveld’s Group E match against an up and coming Ricky Evans.
The Kettering man won the PDC Challenge Tour England this year and William Hill provide the best odds of 9/2 on him causing an upset against RVB. The best odds on a van Barnaveld win are provided by Coral at 1/5.
Then at around 9:30pm, Taylor has his first match of the tournament against Stuart Kellett, who is ranked number 35 in the world.
You can watch all the action live on Sky Sports 4, with the afternoon session starting at 1pm and the evening from 7pm. Coverage continues of the various Sky Sports channels throughout the week.
You can also claim free bets with Coral by clicking HERE.