Wayne Mardle runs the rule over Grand Slam of Darts 2019
Live coverage of the Grand Slam of Darts gets underway live on Sky Sports Action from 1pm on Saturday
Last Updated: 08/11/19 12:25pm
The 2019 Grand Slam of Darts gets underway on Saturday in Wolverhampton, as eight BDO representatives take on the PDC elite in the unique cross-code event.
Gerwyn Price beat Gary Anderson in an infamous final 12 months ago and the Welshman begins his title defence against women's world champion Mikuru Suzuki, whilst top seed Michael van Gerwen is up against BDO No 3 Jim Williams and two-time world champion Adrian Lewis in Group A.
Ahead of this year's event, Wayne Mardle returns with his crystal ball and gives us his typically unique insight into all eight groups, before revealing who he believes will win the coveted Eric Bristow Trophy...
The Group of...Lewis' revival?
Adrian Lewis can't carry on playing like this. I'm in the camp that yes you have to have the ability, but you have to have the work-ethic, you have to have the guts within to compete. Once those guts go I'm not sure all the talent in the world is going to work.
Only he knows if his guts are there. Phil Taylor would tell you - I've won nothing like what other players have won but I found that once my internal fight went, that was it. If Adrian's internal fight has gone, it won't be a revival, it could be three more hidings and more into the desperation stakes - but I hope it's not that.
I think the format is such a leveller. Williams played really well here last year. I thought he looked dangerous over best of nine. I want to say Van Gerwen and Lewis but I've got no confidence in Adrian whatsoever. I don't know if the aforementioned fight has gone - if it has, he doesn't come out of that group.
The Group of...It will be alright for White
I watched Ian White last week against Danny Noppert in the World Series Finals and I'm thinking you are a man that on a daily basis is world class. How does it all go wrong so quickly? I think the legs format is his thing.
He's got a relentless nature about him and when he's on, unless he starts thinking about it he's such a hard man to beat. He's got to find a way to win when he's feeling under it and at the moment he can't.
I think if he can come out of this group as a winner, I think he can have a good run. I think over a good long format, he's got chances of beating absolutely anyone Ian White, but he's got to come out of the group first.
[Wesley] Harms played decent last year. [Steve] Lennon has regressed. He's certainly not the player he was last year. I think it will be Wade and White but Harms is the spanner in the works there.
The Group of...The Thorn can be a pain
Gerwyn Price is the class in it. Will he win all three? I really don't know. Best of nine as I say is a leveller. Robert Thornton is a former finalist here of course. On his day we know what he can do but are his best days behind him? Probably. Can he still compete? Of course he can.
I think it's going to be really tough for Mikuru [Suzuki]. Dimitri Van den Bergh hit a nine-darter here last year, the last one we've seen on television. It's a tough group, but I think Thornton is the one that really could upset the odds here and qualify over Dimitri van den Bergh, who I've got to say has also regressed.
How has he not kicked on over the last three years? I don't understand it. I think Van den Bergh is not the happy-go-lucky kid that he was. I don't see that in him anymore.
The Group of...Watch out for Willie
As I was looking over the group, I was thinking is Gary Anderson a certainty here? The way he played in the World Series no. The way he played in the World Cup he'd probably make the final and win it!
I don't know what to expect from Gary. I'm going to just assume he qualifies because he's miles better than the rest. If he gets off to a sluggish start against anyone he's going to be up against it. There are no mugs that he's facing. Darren Webster, William O'Connor and Dave Parletti. They are all capable.
I think Gary gets through but I also think William O'Connor does. I think he's better than Darren Webster right now, I think he's better than Dave Parletti. I think there's a lot of O'Connor to be seen over the next few years.
The Group...Where Ashton holds the key
If Lisa Ashton starts taking two or three legs off you, you're in trouble in this group because I see each and every player apart from Lisa winning games. Jamie Hughes, Dave Chisnall and Rob Cross - it's an awful group.
I think she can have them thinking of legs difference. I'm not saying she cannot win a game, she's a massive underdog to win a game, but I certainly think she can do some damage.
As for the others going at it, best of nine legs, good luck picking winners there. I believe both Lisa and Mikuru are good enough to win games - they have both averaged 90 in World Championship games so if they can do that and they pick their spots right then who knows?
What they've got to do is pop those finishes, the 68's, the 81's, they've got to go, because they're not going to have the luxury of being able to miss two or three darts and coming back - not in those groups. They've got to hit their combination finishes, if they do that they've got a chance.
The Group...Where Snakebite shows his fangs
I think Peter Wright is the absolute class in this. He's head and shoulders above. I see him getting embroiled once - as in he might be taken to three or four legs, but I think the danger here is Wayne Warren. I think Wayne Warren is a hell of a player.
He's always been one of those real capable players that you seldom see play at his best. He played a great couple of games at the Worlds this year but then fell away. Ryan Harrington has done brilliantly to qualify - I hope he can relax and play.
No offence to Danny Noppert but he didn't play great at the World Series Finals, he just happened to make it through to the final. I hope his confidence has grown because at this tournament four or five years ago when he played Gary Anderson - it was a magnificent game.
We know what he is capable of - he's a World Championship runner-up. I think this is a group where the likes of Noppert, Harrington and Wayne Warren will think 'this could have been a lot worse'.
The Group of...Anyone?
Daryl Gurney for me is not as consistent as he was a year or so ago. Brendan Dolan is playing better than he was a year or so ago.
Gabriel Clemens is so capable and Richard Veenstra - I've seen him play sets at the World Championship where he can live with absolutely anyone.
I'm going to say that Gurney gets through because he is the class but the others I don't know. I've got no clue. Dolan is probably playing consistently better than the others but again, he can throw in a real stinker.
The Group of...Nobody said it would be easy
I don't like saying that someone can't qualify but Martin Schindler can't qualify. He's not playing well enough. We know that he's a capable character, we know he's good, he's got some guts as well, but Smith, Aspinall and Durrant are all top ten quality.
We know Durrant isn't in the top ten, but he is isn't he? Aspinall is playing some of the best darts we're watching right now and Smith - when is he going to win one? I do think he can go on and win this. If he can get out of that group, he has got to fancy then getting to the quarter-finals.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Michael Smith comes alive over the real long format. We've seen it at the World Championship and the World Matchplay where he's reached the final. Even in the Premier League, that's an absolute slog and he's reached the final there.
I'm going to go for Aspinall too. I just think he's a bit more dynamic than Glen Durrant. I think he knows that there are so many good years ahead of him and he's really enjoying it. He's playing with this boyish enthusiasm and I remember feeling like that.
I like Van Gerwen from the top half. It's unlikely that he's going to get beaten in the group phase. Once the format gets that little bit longer, best of 31 in the quarter-finals - you've got to be outrageously good to beat Michael over that distance.
From the bottom half, I fancy three players. Dave Chisnall - I tipped him to reach the final of the Grand Prix and it was pleasing that he played according to plan. I also keep looking at whoever comes out of that Group H.
I just think Smith or Aspinall - I'm not putting Glen Durrant to one side but only two can get through and I just don't think that Durrant does. Any of those could reach the final for me. Van Gerwen is the man to beat and he beats Chisnall, Smith or Aspinall in the final.
Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts - the action is back on your Sky Sports screens next month with the Grand Slam of Darts, nine days of coverage from the Aldersley Leisure Village gets underway on Saturday, November 9.