THE 2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts begins on Saturday, with Michael van Gerwen bidding for a record-breaking fourth successive title.

The 12th staging of the tournament will see 32 players from the PDC and BDO systems face off in Wolverhampton for the newly-titled Eric Bristow Trophy and £450,000 in prize money.

The nine days of action at the Aldersley Leisure Village, live on Sky Sports, initially sees the 32 players split into eight groups of four for the round-robin phase, with all players competing on both Saturday and Sunday.

The opening group matches on Saturday see the eight seeded players pitted against the eight BDO representatives.

Van Gerwen is bidding to become the first player to win the title four years in a row, and is the even money pre-tournament favourite with sponsors bwin.

2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts – Schedule of Play

Saturday November 10

Afternoon Session (1300 GMT) – Groups E-H First Matches

  • Max Hopp v Josh Payne (E)
  • Gerwyn Price v Andrew Gilding (F)
  • Dimitri Van den Bergh v Ryan Searle (H)
  • Stephen Bunting v Martin Schindler (G)
  • Simon Whitlock v Glen Durrant (F)
  • Mensur Suljovic v Scott Mitchell (G)
  • Rob Cross v Mark McGeeney (H)
  • Peter Wright v Jim Williams (E)

Evening Session (1900 GMT) – Groups A-D First Matches

  • Keegan Brown v Mark Webster (C)
  • Jonny Clayton v Joe Murnan (A)
  • Ian White v Steve Hine (D)
  • Michael Smith v Adam Smith-Neale (B)
  • James Wade v Wesley Harms (C)
  • Raymond van Barneveld v Krzysztof Ratajski (B)
  • Gary Anderson v Michael Unterbuchner (D)
  • Michael van Gerwen v Gary Robson (A)

Sunday November 11

Afternoon Session (1300 GMT) – Groups E-H Second Matches

  • Saturday's winners face each other, and Saturday's losers face each other.

Evening Session (1900 GMT) – Groups A-D Second Matches

  • Saturday's winners face each other, and Saturday's losers face each other.

Monday November 12 (1900 GMT)

  • Groups E-H Final Matches

Tuesday November 13 (1900 GMT)

  • Groups A-D Final Matches

Wednesday November 14 (1900 GMT)

  • Second Round x4

Thursday November 15 (1900 GMT)

  • Second Round x4

Friday November 16 (1900 GMT)

  • Quarter-Finals x2

Saturday November 17 (1900 GMT)

  • Quarter-Finals x2

Sunday November 18

  • Afternoon Session (1300 GMT) Semi-Finals
  • Evening Session (1930 GMT) Final

Format

  • Group Stage: Best of nine legs
  • Second Round: Best of 19 legs
  • Quarter-Finals: Best of 31 legs
  • Semi-Finals: Best of 31 legs
  • Final: Best of 31 legs

Prize Fund

  • Winner: £110,000
  • Runner-Up: £55,000
  • Semi-Final Losers: £28,500
  • Quarter-Final Losers: £16,000
  • Second Round Losers: £10,000
  • Group Winner's Bonus: £2,500
  • Third Place in Group: £5,000
  • Fourth Place in Group: £3,000
  • Total: £450,000
  • Nine-Dart Finish Bonus: £25,000

James Wade has paid a touching tribute to the late Eric Bristow MBE as he prepares to play for a trophy named after the darts legend, and his former mentor.

“It would be lovely to win the first Eric Bristow Trophy, I was lucky enough to be close to him,”said Wade, who will be bidding for a first Grand Slam title.

“He was a good man, an honest man and darts will always be at a loss now he's not there, and I will be at a loss because I have lost a friend.

“He had his biggest influence on my career when I was struggling the most and for someone like Eric to say ‘I believe in you, I'm going to take you under my wing until you start winning again' meant so much’’

Looking closely at the betting, MVG is 11/10 generally to win the crown with the field at 10/11 for another other of the 31 players to take the title.

Gary Anderson is next best at 11/2 with the rest double figures and bigger. This shows the dominance Anderson and MVG are in the betting and are 4/9 for either of the pair to lift the trophy with 13/8 on the field.

I do feel that Gary Anderson around the 4/5 mark with Sportingbet to win his quarter is something to consider. The betting implies Wade is his biggest threat price wise but as the format gets longer so will Anderson. It was 10 years ago since the infamous Wade 9 dart finish against the then BDO Anderson so could history repeat itself?

Glen Durrant has a tough group but has the pedigree to make progress in the event like last year made himself at home. Glen is ready for the event and could well be a PDC tour card holder in the next couple of months and is evens with Betfred to be top BDO player.

I also like two players not to qualify from their groups and sits with Joe Murnan and Martin Schindler. Murnan has a tall task to begin with and the young German seems to struggle on the stage. The double is 11/10 with Skybet for this to land.

Recommended Bets

  • Anderson to win his quarter – 13/16 Sportingbet 2pts
  • Durrant – top BDO player – 1/1 Betfred 1pt
  • Murnan/Schindler not to qualify – 11/10 Skybet 3pts
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