The early stages, of The Grand Slam of Darts 2015, have shown what those with open eyes have known for a long time. Namely that the BDO is a mix between some very big fish, who can play darts at any level, and a selection of good amateur players who have not yet made the jump to a professional/elite standard.
After the early exchanges and a large dollop of SKY hype “The Power” let slip the mask of casual ease and verbally bashed Andy Fordham and had a swipe or two at the BDO along the way.
Taylor’s anger, although misdirected, has a grain of truth running through it. This edition of The Grand Slam comes at a time when the working relationship between dart’s rival organisations is as good as it has been for a while, which can never be a bad thing. However, the new formula, for making up the field, together with making it a PDC ranking tournament shows up major flaws and unfairness for PDC players.
No one would stand for it in Football!
Imagine if the same happened in football. The nearest version I could paint would be allowing 8 teams from a different league to play in The Premier League for a couple of match weekends, while leaving mid – lower teams on the sidelines to watch and weep.
So the league table would be badly affected by the fact that a number of teams that would normally play would not even have the opportunity to gain 3 points. The 8 visiting teams would have varying degrees of ability, interest, and motivation, as the points would not count in their own league. This would then throw up a scenario that would ruin the league table’s integrity.
If, for example, the visiting league was the Scottish Premier division it does not take a genius to work out that Celtic, and previously, Rangers and usually one other would be strong sides that would want to do their best. The other five teams however might be weaker, less keen or have their own reasons for fielding weaker teams.
Thus the draw could be hugely significant and have huge effects on the overall league at the end of the season, it may for example cost a team the title itself or a place in the champions league? I am pretty sure this would not be tolerated by any party.
But it is OK in Darts?
Yet it can be argued that this is exactly what has been done in darts. Vincent Van de Voort openly tweeted his support for BDO players, simply because, they will not threaten his ranking position. Players such as Simon Whitlock, Brendon Dolan, Steven Bunting, Justin Pipe and others have been placed at a huge disadvantage, not only are they not allowed to play, but the format is the only event at which a defeat does not mean an exit, thus the chances for players to settle and earn more are increased.
For a victim of the second type look no further than Ian White, The Diamond has been on a steady climb through the rankings, for 5 years, and has reached number 8 in the PDC Rankings. He had turned the corner in majors and was looking a strong favourite for a Premier League place and yet another ranking rise this year. However, he was drawn with the equivalent of Celtic/Rangers. Yet he has to play a three-time world champion & world master with almost nothing to lose ( another two games to come, no ranking pressure etc.) Whereas Ian would have known, that not only would defeat be dangerous, to his chances of qualifying, the powers that be & SKY TV may well have used the game as an unofficial audition for The Premier League. If it is close, at the season’s end, SKY may select a different player?
This matter should be corrected immediately and not allowed to happen again. The Grand Slam does not need to be ranked to make it great TV, cross code element and vociferous crowd ensure that every year. BDO players should be delighted to come and play in the GSoD and have always added to the event, many are quality players who also know the value of entertaining the crowd. The event must be restored to the annual bragging rights battle it has always been.
To maximise the new positive relationship between the organisation however another step could, and should, be taken. PDC boss Barry Hearn should negotiate two places in The Premier League for the BDO. One place selected by SKY (within certain limits) and another by the BDO in whatever way they see fit.
For 2016 It would be certain to be be Adams ( Sky ) & maybe Waites (BDO Pick) they may not think Duzza (Glen Durrant) should be exposed, too soon, to what can be a tough arena? This still leaves the original 8 PDC places SKY could lose one selection with the top 5 be automatically in and then 3 selections.
Not only would these corrections make the PDC ranking system more balanced, but the Premier League would be enhanced and refreshed as well!