Grand Slam of Darts: Five talking points from the tournament
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 16/11/15 7:50pm
Michael van Gerwen won a thrilling Grand Slam of Darts where the standard of arrows reached unprecedented levels.
Such was the excitement, how can the upcoming World Championship possibly compare? Somehow, we reckon it definitely will!
We looked back over the lessons learned from the Grand Slam of Darts...
BDO must stay
Martin 'Wolfie' Adams, Andy 'The Viking' Fordham and co arrived at the Grand Slam of Darts as somewhat of a novelty act - like distant friends who you don't often see, but you are guaranteed to have a great night out with them. As ever, we were left wanting more.
But maybe that's possible? The BDO cousins need not necessarily retreat back into their shells permanently, such is the desire to see them frequently share the oche with the established PDC's hot-shots. Adams and Fordham have expressed their joy at competing in Wolverhampton and claimed they want to return.
Wayne Mardle, our Sky Sports expert, has banged the drum for next year's tournament to feature the top 16 PDC players and the top 16 BDO players - not against each other, but intertwined to ultimately find the true winner. It's a mouth-watering prospect which makes the Grand Slam of Darts a unique fixture on the calendar.
Power not yet turned off
So, the Phil Taylor era is finished forever and he'll never win anything again. Are you willing to bet on that? We're not!
The legendary thrower arrived in Wolverhampton on the back of a below-par Premier League Darts campaign and a semi-final loss at the World Matchplay, but rolled back the years during a run to the Grand Slam final.
His doubling has seen better days, but Taylor vanquished long-time foe Raymond van Barneveld and then slugged it out with Michael van Gerwen in a tit-for-tat final until eventually succumbing to the younger player. To rule Taylor out of the running for the World Championship would be a brave, and probably a foolhardy, thing to do.
Does nobody ever miss?
Throughout our week in the Black Country, we regularly had to calm down an excitable Wayne Mardle who desperately wanted to point out that the standard of arrows is increasing with every event. A tip of the hat to the players, because Wayne was spot on.
Dave Chisnall set the tone with his magnificent nine-darter, as did Taylor by recapturing some of his finest form, and Van Barneveld for showing the battling qualities that occasionally lack from his game. Meanwhile, the BDO players did better than many expected and a few up-and-comers reached the latter stages.
MVG is the trump card
Ultimately, the trophy ended up in the hands of Van Gerwen, a mighty oche operator who is largely favoured to succeed in any tournament he enters. A win over the sport's greatest player, Taylor, is a memorable way to win a prize.
Aged just 26, he has now completed a full set of PDC major tournament victories and has reached the final of every event since January's World Championship. His energy and intensity, coupled with his tender years, make him a fearsome opponent that isn't likely to budge for the foreseeable future.
Everything from his blistering entrance to the buoyant crowd chanting his name makes Van Gerwen a terrifying prospect to play and, in a tournament with a very high standard, he stood out like a sore thumb.
Who will win at Ally Pally?
Well, Van Gerwen will be the overwhelming favourite to lift the top prize at the World Championship over the festive period but, don't forget, we've seen him lose very recently. Robert Thornton, an unfancied challenger in the World Grand Prix final, upset the Dutchman to prove that nobody is unbeatable.
The other obvious contenders are Taylor, who is creeping back to top form and who no sensible darts fan would ever rule out, and the reigning champion Anderson. The Flying Scotsman crashed out prematurely to Mark Webster but was the champion at last year's World Championship. But the current darting landscape means there is no shortage in viable challengers.
Peter Wright is getting better and better and awaits his first major win, while Adrian Lewis has tasted top-level success and knows what it takes. Van Barneveld, below his best recently, can still beat anybody on his day and young gun Michael Smith superbly stormed to the semi-final. It's all to play for!
Watch the World Darts Championship at the Alexandra Palace from Dec 17-Jan 3 - live on Sky Sports.
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