Grand Slam of Darts: Wayne Mardle talks us through this year’s event with Michael van Gerwen and Fallon Sherrock in action | Darts News


All eyes turn to the highly-anticipated Grand Slam of Darts at Wolverhampton’s Aldersley Leisure Village. There are many questions, so who better to ask them to than our very own Wayne ‘Hawaii 501’ Mardle.

The 32-player tournament will be staged at the Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton from November 12-20, with the players competing for the coveted Eric Bristow Trophy and the £150,000 top prize – every session is live on Sky Sports.

Welsh ace Price has won all three Grand Slam tournaments staged at the venue, and the world No 1 will bid for a fourth title in five years. However, ‘The Iceman’ faces stiff competition from three-time runner-up Peter Wright as well as three-time champion Michael van Gerwen.

Add World Grand Prix runner-up Nathan Aspinall, Women’s World Matchplay winner Fallon Sherrock, Masters champion Joe Cullen and 2012 champion Raymond van Barneveld to the mix and you have yourselves a cracking spectacle.

So, without further ado, here’s our man Wayne Mardle to talk us through what to expect over the next nine days of tungsten action.

Is there a Group of Death?

Watch out darts fans! Rookie Josh Rock will be ready to put on a show in Wolverhampton

Watch out darts fans! Rookie Josh Rock will be ready to put on a show in Wolverhampton

There’s one difficult group and I’m not putting players down when I say this but if you look at the seeds, they’ll all be happy.

Group H with Luke Humphries, Ryan Searle, Josh Rock and Scott Williams is the toughest group.

Williams is one hell of a player and he will be the outsider for that group. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got through, while millions in the world think Rock can go on and win it and maybe even win the World Championship. Let’s just hope he can relax and play to the best of his ability.

Then you’ve got Searle and Humphries who are capable of anything – horrible group. The rest of the groups are pretty friendly.

Lisa is playing nowhere near the form she was showing last year and Fallon – we know she’s a TV player – but she’s had a few knocks recently.

Mardle on Ashton and Sherrock’s chances

What are the best opening matches in Wolverhampton?

All of Raymond van Barneveld's nine-darters captured by the Sky Sports cameras!

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All of Raymond van Barneveld’s nine-darters captured by the Sky Sports cameras!

All of Raymond van Barneveld’s nine-darters captured by the Sky Sports cameras!

There’s a few that really do stand-out but in the best-of-nine-legs, the likes of Ted Evetts will fancy his chances against Gerwyn Price, so there’s a little bit more belief about the underdogs.

I’m looking forward to seeing Dirk van Duijvenbode because I think he’s a potential danger to win the event. I want to see him play and I’m looking forward to seeing Dave Chisnall take on Raymond van Barneveld. It’s great to see Barney back in the big time. He believes he should be back in the big time – he’s so good.

I’m looking forward to seeing Ross Smith after he won the European Championship because Luke Woodhouse won’t be a pushover in his group.

The game of the afternoon session could well be Ryan Searle and Josh Rock. I really believe that. Rock is exciting because we don’t know what he’s going to turn into, but Searle can beat anyone.

Grand Slam of Darts – Roll of Honour

6 Phil Taylor
3 Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price
1 Jose De Sousa, Raymond van Barneveld
Scott Waites

Is there a dark horse for the tournament?

Nathan Aspinall has the potential to make a run to the semi-finals

Nathan Aspinall has the potential to make a run to the semi-finals

It’s a long format this. Forget about the best-of-nine-legs because getting out of the group is obviously the first priority for any player but once you do it’s best-of-19-legs in the last 16, then it’s best-of-31-legs in the quarter-finals.

Underdogs seldom win this if you look at the winners in the last few years. Gerwyn Price has won it three out of the last four and then you had Jose De Sousa and before that you had Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld.

You can talk about Scott Waites, but he was one of the best players at the time and just because he was the BDO representative he was completely overlooked. That was always wrong at the time.

I’m not saying these players can win it but I wouldn’t be surprised if Nathan Aspinall made a run to the semi-finals. Luke Humphries and Damon Heta wouldn’t surprise me, while Joe Cullen is considered a bit of an outsider and Rob Cross isn’t even mentioned.

Polly James and Michael Bridge pick out their winners, surprises and must-watch tie for the Grand Slam of Darts...

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Polly James and Michael Bridge pick out their winners, surprises and must-watch tie for the Grand Slam of Darts…

Polly James and Michael Bridge pick out their winners, surprises and must-watch tie for the Grand Slam of Darts…

Fallon & Lisa’s chances

Fallon Sherrock and Lisa Ashton will be flying the flag for women's darts in Wolves

Fallon Sherrock and Lisa Ashton will be flying the flag for women’s darts in Wolves

No disrespect to them but whatever group they were going to be in it was going to be tough. Lisa Ashton is probably playing a little bit better than Fallon Sherrock right now and they’ve both regressed.

Lisa is playing nowhere near the form she was showing last year and Fallon – we know she’s a TV player – but she’s had a few knocks recently.

She’s put in some stinkers at the recent World Series of Darts events which makes me think she cannot be confident and she’s got a difficult group.

Fallon’s got Peter Wright, Nathan Aspinall and Alan Soutar and Soutar is a hard man to do business with.

For Lisa, she’s got Michael Smith, Joe Cullen and someone very capable on their day in Ritchie Edhouse.

I don’t fancy their chances at all but I hope I’m wrong. I want to see them win games and cause upsets, but it doesn’t happen for me.

Sherrock said she was getting used to this 'history-making thing' after becoming the first ever winner of the Women's World Matchplay

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Sherrock said she was getting used to this ‘history-making thing’ after becoming the first ever winner of the Women’s World Matchplay

Sherrock said she was getting used to this ‘history-making thing’ after becoming the first ever winner of the Women’s World Matchplay

Then there’s the big three…

Gerwyn Price, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright are expected to battle it out for glory at the Grand Slam of Darts

Gerwyn Price, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright are expected to battle it out for glory at the Grand Slam of Darts

Van Gerwen is your rightful favourite along with Price and Wright but the long format is made for the big boys. Just look at the runner-ups since 2015. You’ve had Phil Taylor, James Wade, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson, so it’s the big-hitters, it’s the winners that seem to do well in this event.

I don’t see a lot changing.

I just hope Michael Smith believes it will happen because if it doesn’t, it won’t.

Mardle is backing ‘Bully Boy’ to win the Grand Slam of Darts

Grand Slam of Darts 2021: Prize Money

Winner £150,000
Runner-Up £70,000
Semi-Finalists £50,000
Quarter-Finalists £25,000
Last 16 £12,250
Third place in group £8,000
Fourth place in Group £5,000
Group Winner Bonus £3,500

Who wins?

Is this Michael Smith time? Wayne Mardle believes so...

Is this Michael Smith time? Wayne Mardle believes so…

I’m predicting Michael Smith to win it this year. He was the best player in the tournament last year but he lost the last eight legs on the bounce to Peter Wright.

Weirdly enough, he lost nine of the last 10 in the World Championship final as well, but I think he gets back on the horse after losing at the European Championship.

I wouldn’t rule out Dave Chisnall but if it wasn’t Price, Wright, Van Gerwen and fourth-seeded Smith in the semi-finals, would it surprise me? Not a jot.

After winning his third Grand Slam of Darts title last year, Wayne Mardle said he expects Price to continue having further success

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After winning his third Grand Slam of Darts title last year, Wayne Mardle said he expects Price to continue having further success

After winning his third Grand Slam of Darts title last year, Wayne Mardle said he expects Price to continue having further success

I like Smith’s draw. He’s in a good group and if he comes through that he probably faces Rob Cross or Dirk van Duijvenbode, then he plays someone from his group again, who I think could be Joe Cullen, and then he’s in the semi-finals. He can beat Price or Chisnall to reach the final, but he’s never made a final.

I just hope Michael Smith believes it will happen because if it doesn’t, it won’t.

Watch the Grand Slam of Darts at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton from 12-20 November – with every session live on Sky Sports.



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