The Waite-ing is over as the William Hill Grand Slam of darts nears
Preview & Outright Prices
THE William Hill Grand Slam of Darts begins on Saturday, as 32 players from the world of darts compete for the £100,000 first prize at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
The tournament brings together stars from both the Professional Darts Corporation at BDO/WDF systems to do battle over nine days.
Scott Waites (20/1) enters the event as the reigning champion following his incredible triumph in the final last year, as he came back from 8-0 down to defeat James Wade 16-12.
The Yorkshireman will take on Michael van Gerwen (150/1) in his opening Group A game on Saturday night, having recently won the World Masters title amongst four successive tournament wins to enter Wolverhampton in tpo form.
"I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I seem to come good," said Waites, who was also the 2009 Grand Slam runner-up.
"I don't know what it is about Wolverhampton, but it's the best darting place for me to be at the minute.
"I think the first game is the most important one and everyone's going to be trying to win that.
"If you do win it, you know you've got to probably only win one of the next two games so you've got a great chance. If you do lose that, there's a lot of pressure on the second game, which you probably don't need.
"I'm looking forward to playing him because I'm playing quite well.
"I'm not sure how he is playing but I owe Michael one because he beat me in the first Grand Slam! I'll prepare myself like I did last year and hopefully get the same sort of results."
Waites' rivals in Group A, Mark Walsh (80/1) and Tony O'Shea (50/1), also clash on Saturday night amongst eight matches being played from Groups A-D.
Wade (9/1), who hit a nine-dart finish in the 2008 event and was last year's runner-up, opens his challenge against Dave Chisnall (40/1) in Group D, with the St Helens ace having won last Sunday's Players Championship in Crawley for his first PDC title.
They are joined in a tough Group D by in-form Justin Pipe (66/1), who has reached five out of the last eight finals on the PDC ProTour, and Terry Jenkins (40/1), who was the 2008 Grand Slam of Darts runner-up and has reached at least the quarter-finals in every year of the event.
Raymond van Barneveld plays Stoke-based Wildcard Qualifier Ian White in Group B, with Lakeside Championship finalist Dean Winstanley (66/1) and two-time World Champion Ted Hankey (50/1) also clashing.
Gary Anderson (13/2) plays another Wildcard Qualifier, Leamington Spa's Nigel Heydon (125/1), in Group C, where they are also draw with Wolverhampton favourite Wayne Jones (100/1) and World Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan.
Jones won through to last year's semi-finals in the Grand Slam of Darts, and said: "Last year was a fantastic memory and the support I got was incredible.
"It's a very tough group this year but I'll give it my best shot and hopefully give them plenty to cheer again."
Sunday afternoon sees Groups E-H play their opening games, including three-time champion Phil Taylor playing 19-year-old debutant James Hubbard (500/1) - who qualified last Friday when he reached the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship final.
The Norfolk youngster, whose father Vic used to play professionally, will make his televised debut against Taylor, and said: "It's been a pretty crazy week but you can't ask for a better experience in your first game.
"It's not the draw that you want if you're hoping to do well, but I'm not expected to do well so it's a perfect draw for me, experience-wise.
"I've got three games on TV and that will only do me good ahead of the World Youth Championship Final."
Mervyn King (40/1) faces Steve Beaton (125/1) in Group E's other opener, with the latter having knocked out Taylor (5/4) on his way to the semi-finals in Wolverhampton.
UK Open finalist Wes Newton takes on Swedish debutant Magnus Caris (250/1) and Paul Nicholson (25/1) plays Barrie Bates (500/1) in Group F, with Mark Webster meeting Arron Monk and Jan Dekker playing John Part in Group G.
PDC World Champion Adrian Lewis opens his challenge in Group H against Welshman Martin Phillips, with Dutch pair Vincent van der Voort (66/1) and Co Stompe (125/1) meeting in the group's other opener.
Lewis (10/1) lost 5-2 to Phillips in last year's opening games, and has never won beyond the last 16 in Wolverhampton in the four years of the tournament.
"It's been a disappointment for me but I really want to do well in this one," said Lewis. "I think my form's coming back well, my scoring's good and I'm sharpening up on my finishing, and I think I'll have a really good chance here.
"I've started slowly in this event before but I've done a few things differently this year. I've started to play in a Tuesday night league to sharpen myself up because I knew I had to do something.
"If I can get through the group stage then the format's longer and I think I'll have a good chance of winning it."
The group stages continue until Wednesday night, with the top two players from each group progressing to the knockout stage from the last 16 onwards, with the semi-finals and final being played on Sunday November 20 across two sessions.
Many sessions for the tournament have already sold out, with ticket sales already higher ahead of the 2011 Grand Slam of Darts than they were for the entire event last year.
Tickets are still available for some sessions and can be purchased from the Wolves Civic Box Office on 0870 320 7000.
William Hill Grand Slam of Darts
Schedule of Play & Prices
Saturday November 12
Groups A-D First Games
Wayne Jones (11/10) v Brendan Dolan (8/11) (C)
Mark Walsh (4/6) v Tony O'Shea (6/5) (A)
Dean Winstanley (8/11) v Ted Hankey (11/10)(B)
Raymond van Barneveld (1/8) v Ian White (5/1) (B)
James Wade (4/9) v Dave Chisnall (7/4) (D)
Scott Waites (4/11) v Michael van Gerwen (21/10)(A)
Gary Anderson (1/6) v Nigel Heydon (4/1)(C)
Terry Jenkins (8/11) v Justin Pipe (11/10) (D)
TICKETS - SOLD OUT
Sunday November 13
Afternoon Session - 2pm-6pm
Groups E-H First Games
Paul Nicholson (3/10) v Barrie Bates (5/2) (F)
Wes Newton (1/3) v Magnus Caris (9/4) (F)
Mark Webster (4/11) v Arron Monk (21/10) (G)
Vincent van der Voort (4/6) v Co Stompe (6/5) (H)
Mervyn King (4/7) v Steve Beaton (11/8) (E)
Phil Taylor (1/50)v James Hubbard (12/1) (E)
Adrian Lewis (3/10) v Martin Phillips (5/2) (H)
Jan Dekker (7/4) v John Part (4/9) (G)
TICKETS: Balcony Only Remaining £20
Evening Session - 8pm-12am
Groups A-D Second Games
The winners of Saturday's games will play each other, and the losers will play each other.
Schedule of play TBC
TICKETS: Balcony Only Remaining £20
Monday November 14
Groups E-H Second Games
The winners of Sunday afternoon's games will play each other, and the losers will play each other.