Tough Defence for De Sousa

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The Grand Slam of Darts starts on Saturday in Wolverhampton and it looks like the draw may well have worked against defending champion, Jose de Sousa.

Jose de Sousa faces a tough defence of his title in Wolverhampton

One of the great darts events gets underway on Saturday when the Grand Slam returns to Wolverhampton. 

Eight groups of four players battle it out in the round-robin stage of the competition, with the top-two performers progressing to the knockout stage. 

This will be the first year of no BDO/WDF representation in the event’s history, after the dissolution of the BDO in 2020, and that is a shame. 

However, there are some quality arrowsmiths in the field and some decent bets to be had. 

Difficult Draw for Defending Champion

The draw is always important in this event and defending champion Jose de Sousa looks to have been housed in a tough section. The Special One is in with Luke Humphries, Mensur Suljovic and Matt Campbell in Group F and all four of those throwers will hold qualification hopes. 

Michael van Gerwen and Joe Cullen are joined by John Henderson and Lisa Ashton in Group G, while you have Raymond van Barneveld, Michael Smith and Gary Anderson battling it out in section H. Peter Wright is also lurking in the bottom-half of the draw and it could pay to concentrate elsewhere. 

Backing Bunting Not a Bad Idea

Former BDO World Champion Stephen Bunting is performing as well as ever and he looks a fair bet at 66/1. 

The Bullet reached the semi-finals of last season’s PDC World Championship and he showed again that he can be a force in major events when reaching the last four of the World Grand Prix last month. 

Only Gerwyn Price proved too strong for Bunting in Leicester and the Merseyside Man can be confident of progressing from a section of inconsistent performers containing Dimitri Van den Bergh, Ryan Joyce and Rowby-John Rodriguez. 

The Bullet would then face one of James Wade, Rob Cross, Jim Williams or Boris Krcmar, at the last-16 stage, and again there’s little for an in-form player to fear. 

Value on Ratajski

Another player that’s capable of outrunning big odds is 28/1 shot Krzysztof Ratajski.

The Polish Eagle has developed into an excellent big-stage performer and is producing strong efforts on a consistent basis. Ratajski made the quarter-finals of the UK Open and World Grand Prix, the semis of the Matchplay and World Series of Darts and it won’t be long until he goes at least one place better. 

The 44-year-old is inside the top-ten performers in terms of three-dart averages on the Pro Tour this campaign and he looks to have been handed a favourable group-stage draw in Wolverhampton. 

Price is also in Group A, but neither of those big-hitters have much to fear from Martin Schindler or Nathan Rafferty. Qualification from the section looks pretty assured and if the Pole was able to top Group A, Jonny Clayton aside, there isn’t a great deal of depth to a potential last-16 opponent from Group B. 

Barney Back on the Big Screen

If one player was to make it through from the competitive bottom-half it could be Van Barneveld. 

We haven’t seen much of Barney on the TV, as he looks to rebuild his ranking, but his numbers on the floor are good.

The Dutchman has a tough draw in Wolverhampton, but he is certainly worth considering in future events. 

*All odds correct at time of writing.

An experienced sports journalist, Henry’s knowledge spans across a number of different areas, including darts and snooker.

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