As may have been obvious from Part 1 there is, and always has been, a lot of additional hype surrounding the GSoD. The annual cross code event began in a time when there was still great emnity between the organisations and their supporters, although not as much between the actual players!
Enough of all that though, with this being the strongest field ever assembled and the groupings being much more balanced. Its time time to put the money where the mouth is group by group!
Group A – Very harsh indeed here on the lesser players. Two of the stars of recent Grand Slams in MVG & Kim Hybrechts have been drawn with former BDO star Steve West and Dutch qualifier Oosterhuis.
No real debate here, West has been playing very well recently but the two big names will have more than enough overall.
Qualifiers: MVG & Hybrechts
Code Situation: PDC 2-0 Others
Group B – Potentially the best group for drama. White is now seeded 8 and people have woken up to how good he is. Former Lakeside Champ Klassen, is in superb form and has been getting better all the time. The evergreen (or everbronzed?) Steve Beaton, another former world champion, can never be underestimated. Most attention will however be on Adams. A 3 time word champion & world master, he will not want to exit early and I suspect will have worked very hard to ensure a good account is given. Incredibly consistent and with huge stage and pressure pedigree.
Toughest group to pick, White has the tools but can occasionally struggle in certain circumstances. His very strong and recent BDO links can prove a distraction, as in 2011. Beaton may well throw the spanner in the works with a win or take a lot of legs.
This will come down to legs I suspect. The Diamond & Wolfie to get through.
Qualifiers: Ian White & Martin Adams
Code Score: PDC 3-1 Others
This group has the match of the event for the supporters. The most loved Viking since Hagar ‘the horrible’ and hometown wanderer Wayne Jones. Jones is so well supported here that another world champion was left in tears after being subjected to a torrid reception, but Andy won’t get that. With two of the fast and furious brigade in Adrian Lewis and Micheal Smith being the higher ranked players in the group it could come down to whoever wins the clash of the heroes having to get another win or close defeat to get through.
Will go for a surprise here, Adrian has looked vulnerable here in the past & Bullyboy Smith may himself be bullied by the crowd and left in third place.
Qualifiers: Adrian Lewis & Wayne Jones ( Heart wants Fordham!)
Code Score: PDC 5-1 Others
Extremely hard task for the reigning Lakeside Champion in this group of seasoned Grand Slammers. Chizzy has had a long year and may need a battery re charge. Peter Wright has become an ever present at the later stages of majors , the format or venue seem irrelevant to him. Merv King is not to be underestimated here, he gives nothing away and seems to do pretty well in tough situations at the moment.
Qualifiers: Peter Wright & Merv King
Code Score: PDC 7-1 Others
This is a superb looking group. Barney can be hit and miss, Butler is in superb form and has seen and done it all. Anderson had best be on his mettle early! At first Andy Boulton would have wondered who he upset with this group. However groups of death can work out well for the outsider, Boulton is tough, passionate and has loads of talent. If the others all start beating each other, he could stay in the mix even just by winning legs early on. The pressure on the others in this group could be massive.
This one could be a 9 dart shoot out! Or other decider.
Qualifiers: Anderson & Butler
Code Score: PDC 8 -2 Others.
Looks a pretty simple bet here, Mark Webster is in fine fettle and getting better every week. Semi of the Grand Prix and a superb weekend of qualification recently has put him right back where he belongs. Der Horst is unlikely to trouble either Webster or James Wade. Wade is playing good solid stuff and always does creditably at Wolves. Keegan Brown is the random element here, although in the event through his Youth World Championship win, he has developed quickly and won event and big matches on stage and TV. If he hits his straps he could pip Wade to one of the spots.
Qualifiers: Webster & Wade
Code Score: PDC 10-2 Others
This is not the worst group for the debutant Johnny Clayton to get. Wolverhampton is a very tough place to play until you get used to the noise which can hit you like a wall, but you get 3 games so you can adjust and show what you can do.
Robert Thornton has had a brilliant time over the last 3 years or so. Terry Jenkins has done remarkably well to play himself all the way back into the top 10, could a run here put the Bull back in The Premier League? De Vos has won a TV event and much of it was short format so he should not be counted out.
Qualifiers: Thornton & Jenkins
Code Score: PDC 12-2 Others
This could be a very entertaining group with good characters and stories. Young Rowby can play and has had a few big matches now and begun to play well in them. Phillips was very popular in the event and reached the last 16 in 2011.Kong showed up last year and got himself a PDC deal with a sponsor due to his showing at the event. In addition he has hit form in the last few weeks. An injury hit season has been frustrating for the big Liverpudlian but he could have timed his recovery to perfection. As for The Power who knows whats in store, he is in superb form at times at the moment. Some spells on The Pro Tour have been as good as ever if not more so, but he seems to have lost a bit on the big days. Others are less intimidated than was once the case and Taylor is less certain at crucial points. I think he may have one or two dodgy moments in the group phase, possibly from underestimating the others in his group.
Qualifiers: Taylor & Rodriguez
Code Score: PDC 14 – 2 Others
There we have it, a few shocks in this early stage but it will set up the last 16 to be very tasty indeed. We will return after the group stage to see if The Grand Slam of Darts 2015 is living up to its billing and see what will happen next!