On Sunday at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall, Michael van Gerwen beat Phil Taylor before taking down Peter Wright in the final to claim his third straight Grand Slam of Darts. The world number one now adds the title to his World Championship and Premier League crowns in what has become yet another imperious year for the Dutch master.
A strong final eight
The group stages had seen a number of spirited performances from some of the field’s outsiders, but in the end the final eight was about as good as could have been expected.
The Order of Merit’s top four – Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson and Daryl Gurney – all took their place in the Quarter Finals. They were joined by the 16-time world champion Phil Taylor, a 2017 televised major winner in Mensur Suljovic, BDO champion Glen Durrant and Rob Cross, considered by many to the game’s hottest emerging talent. This was not a view shared by Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor regarding Daryl Gurney, who when quizzed by Sky Sports if Superchin represented the future of Darts, laughed it off and humiliated his young opponent 16-4, 24-hours later.
Back to Sunday’s action and Peter Wright, who had earlier fought back from being six legs down to beat Gary Anderson 15-16 in the semi-final, couldn’t keep up with MVG in the final. van Gerwen averaged over 50% throughout the whole event and won six of the last eight legs to win 16-12 and claim yet another major televised title.
Only hours earlier, the Dutchman had beaten Phil Taylor, the only other man to win three Grand Slams, 16-8. The final paired the newly top ranked pair in the world who went on to share seven 100+ finishes before Mighty Mike hit the after burners and stormed off with the win becoming only the second man to lift the Grand Slam trophy on three successive occasions.
As the players prepare for the Players Championship in Minehead this weekend, many eyes are turned towards Alexandra Palace and the World Championships, now little under a month away.
Michael van Gerwen heads into the Ally Pally chasing a third world title and his second in as many years. He currently a 4/5 favorite at Betway to do so. Gary Anderson (11/2) and ‘Snakebite’ Wright (7/1) in particular should be considered the biggest threats to the Dutchman’s growing immortality.
Elsewhere, the traditional top eight of the past few years is finally being threatened by Daryl Gurney, Mensur Suljovic and Rob Cross as they begin to challenge the likes of Adrian Lewis, Dave Chisnall and James Wade in hunting down the leading pack of Van Gerwen, Wright, Anderson, Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld. Come February, Wade, Lewis and Chizzy will have a battle on their hands when it comes to the Premier League matches and other majors.
That said, it’s inevitable that the departing legend that is Phil Taylor will be where the pre-tourney narrative is. He enjoyed himself in Wolverhampton, where he made life miserable for the Sky Sports’ cameras. During the event he playfully cursed live on air and dismissed the challenge of Gurney, whom he destroyed in the QF’s. On this form, he will not be going quietly come North London. Taylor is a respectable 8/1 at current prices for one last shot at World Championship glory.
The Power will not be at Minehead this weekend, where the PDC go it alone and where 27-year-old Rob Cross is the top seed. Cross’ good form continued with a run to the quarter-final last week, making it easy to forget that this is his first year on the circuit and was not even a professional this time last year. Now Cross, who has risen to world’s top 20, finds himself top seed and fourth favourite for a live televised event. If you fancy Cross to win live on ITV2 this weekend, get on him now at 9/1 at Betway. Or, of course, you’ll find the big three, MVG (10/11), Anderson (11/2) or Wright (8/1) also available.