The Grand Slam of Darts is upon us – and the 2012 event promises nine days of drama, shocks and excitement.
Since the first Grand Slam of Darts was held back in 2007, the crowd at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall, not to mention the hundreds of thousands watching on TV, have been treated to some memorable moments.
Here are the top five so far ahead of this year’s tournament, when Phil Taylor is 13/8 to retain the title.
The 2010 final: Waites’ comeback/Wade’s collapse
The 2010 tournament was perhaps the best of the lot, not least because of the number of thrillers and shocks, but the final was unforgettable for two reasons.
Scott Waites, the 2009 finalist, was eager to go one step further, while James Wade came into the match looking to make it three major titles in a row having won the World Grand Prix and Championship League beforehand.
Early on, Wade was 8-0 up with an average of 110, and looked to be on his way to victory. However, a lapse in concentration saw Waites seize an opportunity, chipping away at what was a commanding lead.
In the end, Waites won 16-12. Being a BDO player, winning a PDC event was extra special, while Wade was too angry to even do a post-match interview.
Beaton turns back the clock against Taylor
Since moving to the PDC in 2000, Steve Beaton has flattered to deceive.
For every good performance he’s had, there have been two or three bad ones, but coming up against a visibly-shaky Taylor, who lost a group game to Ted Hankey earlier on in the 2010 tournament, he had a chance.
Taylor looked to be cruising to victory, but the man from Coventry reeled off five straight legs to seal a win in the quarter final that proved he still had plenty in his locker.
Birth of the bad boy in 2008
In 2008, a Geordie who carried Australian nationality made his televised debut against BDO ranked number one Gary Anderson in the group stages and wasn’t expected to do much.
However, the little-known Paul Nicholson, donning wrap-around sunglasses and coming out to Metallica’s Sad But True, developed an on-stage persona that polarised darts fans the world over.
Nicholson hit a 180 with his first visit, appearing to ‘shush’ the crowd after they booed him, and went on to win the game. Since then, he has been a fixture in the PDC’s top 16 and has a major title to his name.
Hankey against the world
From a new bad boy to a more traditional darting pantomime villain.
Ever since Ted ‘The Count’ Hankey made his bow at Wolverhampton, donning his cape and glowering at the booing crowds, he has managed to engage in verbal jousting with the fans.
Perhaps the most memorable instance of this happening was in the 2010 tournament, where after a second-round defeat to Steve Beaton, he referred to the crowd as a ‘bunch of muppets’ and vowed never to return to the event.
Anastasia wins the battle of the sexes
Although she’s not the first woman to beat a male competitor on TV, in 2009, Russia’s Anastasia Dobromyslova managed to gain a victory against experienced Dutchman Vincent van der Voort.
With the crowd behind her, she managed to win 5-4 in the group game, and her victory proves that the best women can give the men a game.