The 2021 renewal of the PDC’s Grand Slam of Darts will return to its traditional Wolverhampton venue this weekend after taking place behind closed doors in Coventry last year.
On that occasion, Portugal’s Jose de Sousa made a name for himself when he lifted the trophy.
The Special One has since gone on to win four Pro Tour titles, which has allowed him to reach as high as his current world ranking of seven.
Currently catching the eye, however, is the man he beat in last year’s final, Jonny Clayton, who is not only in the form of his life but playing as if he is the world number one right now.
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At the moment, you simply cannot back against the Ferret, who has picked up more individual titles than anyone else this season, four of which – Masters, Premier League, World Grand Prix and the World Series of Darts Finals – have been televised majors.
The last win, the World Series of Darts Finals, came at the expense of his fellow countryman and actual world number one, Wales’ Gerwyn Price who he also beat in the final of the World Grand Prix.
It’s fortunately strange then that bet365 only sees him as a 6/1 shot to win the 2021 Grand Slam, a price that isn’t to be sniffed at.
His game hasn’t got any weak spots right now as demonstrated at last week’s Super Series where he once again reached the latter stages, this time losing it to Krzysztof Ratajski. Clayton still managed to post five ton plus averages in 11 matches, however.
bet365 makes him third favourite behind the big two of Gerwyn Price (4/1) and Michael van Gerwen (9/2).
Ratajski is another outsider that could go well and run deep this week making him possibly worth a punt, although he has been drawn into the same group as Gerwyn Price. If he can qualify from the group, he could be dangerous.
Van Den Bergh Out, Dobey In
This might have been a good time to back Dimitri van den Bergh, but he has fallen victim to the pandemic and has been replaced by Chris Dobey.
Two-time runner-up, Gary Anderson enjoys this event and has never been eliminated in the group stage.
He has had a quite year but did hit three ton plus averages in a day at last week’s Super Series which might suggest he could be getting back to best at the exact right time with the World Championships looming.
The Flying Scotsman can be backed at odds of 8/1 at bet365.
Lisa Ashton and Fallon Sherrock will both be in Wolverhampton over the weekend and possibly longer in Sherrock’s case.
Her run to the Nordic Darts Masters final, where she could so easily have beaten Michael van Gerwen, was another example of what she is capable of.
She will also have the crowd massively on her side for all of her matches and has more than enough big stage experience to cope with what is admittedly a tough draw.
Her group contains Germany’s Gabriel Clemens and one Peter Wright, who she plays in her first match.
Snakebite And The Iceman
In the case of Snakebite, you never can be quite sure. One minute he throws like the best around, the next moment his game drops off completely.
At the moment, it looks like being the latter but there is every chance we get the version that took down the World Matchplay so brilliantly.
bet365 have priced the erratic showman up at 8/1.
World champion Gerwyn Price will be pleased to be back in Wolverhampton having won the title at the Aldersley Leisure Village in both 2018 and 2019.
The short format does make the group stage a little bit of a lottery, but he is rightly the outright favourite and is certain to qualify out of his group, likely alongside the aforementioned Polish Eagle.
The Group Stage
With the 32 players split into eight groups of four for the first-round stage, the round-robin action begins with a double session on Saturday.
Jonny Clayton, who takes his place in group B, should breeze out of there and into the second round joined, I would think, by Mervyn King.
Expect Rob Cross, who has been picking up some fantastic results over the past few months, and James Wade to safely navigate the third group (C).
The Dream Maker’s replacement, Chris Dobey, should have enough to escape group D where Stephen Bunting should be the other qualifier.
Peter Wright is joined in Group E by Fallon Sherrock who has the potential to cause an upset, although Gabriel Clemens will have something to say about that.
Reigning champion Jose de Sousa shouldn’t be having too much trouble making it out of Group F and into round two along with Luke Humphries or Mensur Suljovic.
Group G is where Michael van Gerwen starts his campaign and is a certain qualifier most likely with Joe Cullen.
The final group is an intriguing one as it contains Gary Anderson, who should qualify for the next round, and Michael Smith, who is also a strong candidate for qualification, as well as the returning Raymond van Barneveld who has every reason to believe he can qualify for the knockout stages on his return to the Grand Slam for the first time since 2018.
Grand Slam of Darts 2021 Groups
- Gerwyn Price
- Krzysztof Ratajski
- Martin Schindler
- Nathan Rafferty
- Jonny Clayton
- Mervyn King
- Bradley Brooks
- Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
- James Wade
- Rob Cross
- Boris Krcmar
- Jim Williams
- Chris Dobey
- Stephen Bunting
- Ryan Joyce
- Chris Dobey
- Peter Wright
- Gabriel Clemens
- Mike De Decker
- Fallon Sherrock
- Jose de Sousa
- Luke Humphries
- Mensur Suljovic
- Matt Campbell
- Michael van Gerwen
- Joe Cullen
- John Henderson
- Lisa Ashton
- Gary Anderson
- Michael Smith
- Raymond van Barneveld
- Joe Davis
Grand Slam of Darts 2021 Schedule
Saturday November 13
Group Matches (Best of 9 legs)
- Stephen Bunting v Ryan Joyce
- Krzysztof Ratajski v Martin Schindler
- Mervyn King v Bradley Brooks
- James Wade v Jim Williams
- Rob Cross v Boris Krcmar