Monday at the Grand Slam of Darts means we lose 8 players, some already know their fate, others are fighting for a place in the last 16. I’m going to look at each group scenario and deliver what I think is the most likely outcome.
One of the two more straight forward groups to address this evening. Raymond van Barneveld is already securely into the last 16 with two wins and only one other player able to join him. A win tonight against outgoing World Youth Champion Ted Evetts would secure top spot in the group, depending on results elsewhere even a narrow loss could do the job. You have to worry for Evetts this evening, Barney looked incredibly happy and relaxed on stage yesterday. As much so as he has for some time and the most likely outcome here is a comfortable win for RvB
Moving on to the straight shootout, this is not a scenario we would have expected, they would have expected to have played yesterday after opening wins but first Chizzy came unstuck and then Gezzy followed him. This should be an absolute cracker, lets not forget, Price was absolutely phenomenal in the loss to Barneveld, averaging in excess of 105 and barely putting a dart out of place. Chizzy was equally excellent in dismissing Evetts, scoring well and finishing superbly. A great end to the group in prospect.
Raymond van Barneveld wins comfortably to take top spot, Gezzy is pushed but ultimately the King of Wolverhampton comes through for 2nd place.
One of the most complex groups to work out here, Noppert comes in with 2 wins and a +4 leg difference, Whitlock and Suljovic with a win and a loss and leg difference of 0, Perez sits on 2 defeats with a leg difference of -4.
So what are their prospects, Perez is in need of at least a 5-2 win to get ahead of Whitlock on leg difference, 5-3 would leave them level, which then puts us in 9 dart shootout territory if Noppert beats Mensur 5-3. However, let us be realistic here, the one thing you can generally rely on with Whitlock is some pretty solid finishing, pair this off against an opponent who has really struggled with the outer ring and a Whitlock win seems likely.
A more likely 9 dart shootout comes, in my opinion, from Whitlock winning 5-3 and Mensur doing the same, which would leave the 3 top players in the group all locked on +2 legs and 2 wins.
Despite all the exciting scenarios available, the group peters out, Whitlock does what he needs to against Perez, ‘The Freeze maintains recent form to dispatch Mensur from Wolverhampton and secure top spot with 3 wins from 3.
This group remains open with a number of outcomes possible,
Any Smith win secures top spot and he is likely to do this against Edhouse who while picking up a win yesterday was no better than workmanlike in seeing off Ashton. Of course, we have seen Michael conspire to do strange things before but given a narrow loss is also enough he is likely to get the job done. Edhouse needs a 5-1 win to overtake Smith in the standings. Of course any Edhouse win ends Lisa Ashton’s campaign. Only 1 result will do for Lisa, a 5-0 drubbing of Joe Cullen puts her through if Edhouse loses in any form.
The scenario is of course extremely unlikely but it keeps things interesting until Joe wins a leg at least. You have to think his poor performance yesterday was a blip and he will make his way through tonight without any undue stress and drama.
No surprises here I’m afraid, Smith beats Edhouse and Cullen takes out Ashton as the two favourites make their way through.
The second uncomplicated group to deal with tonight, ‘The Titan’, Dirk van Duijvenbode has already secured a last 16 slot, his opponent tonight, young Adam Gawlas only able to play for pride after opening defeats. Though he was powerless to stop Rob Cross who went ballistic from 0-2 down on Saturday, he will bemoan missed doubles yesterday against Schindler and the fact that every miss seemed to be punished in the extreme. Another who like Evetts will be looking to build confidence for last chance saloon attempts at the World Chmpionships. It is difficult to see anything other than Dirk completing a clean sweep of the group.
The second tie is intriguing, given currently there is no way of knowing what version of Rob Cross you might get from day to day. Brilliant against Gawlas, recovering from 0-2 with a 100.87 average and 71.4% success on the doubles, he was back in the doldrums on Sunday, 60% on doubles masking an 88 average and allowing him a more flattering score than deserved. Schindler was very unfortunate against Dirk averaging close to the 100 mark and missing a match dart prior to the majestic 11 dart winning leg. Cross has so much pedigree at this level but you cannot continue to be so inconsistent and get away with it.
Dirk wins 5-0 or 5-1 to complete the clean sweep, for me, tonight is the night Cross comes unstuck, Schindler will produce the more consistent darts to take the win and 2nd place in the group.