2009 Grand Slam of Darts – 2 Hotty To Handle

Scott WaitesSunday saw the thrilling conclusion of the 2009 Grand Slam of Darts. This tournament is one of the few occasions where we get to see some of the top BDO (British Darts Organisation) stars go head-to-head with the stars of the rival PDC (Professional Darts Corporation), which organizes the event.

The Grand Slam brings together the winners and runners-up from the major competitions from both organizations. It also offers channels for overseas players to qualify, as well as a wild card spot open to any dart player who wins the qualifying event.

One of the major competitions that qualifies for entry is the Women’s World Championship. Both Anastasia Dobromyslova and Francis Hoenselaar were representing women’s darts. Only Dobromyslova made any impact with her shocking defeat of Vincent van der Voort in the group stage. Unfortunately, both women finished last in their groups, failing to make the playoffs. The fact that they were featured in a major televised tournament will surely help raise the profile of women in the sport of darts.

There were plenty of upsets in the tournament, but for one player in particular, the Grand Slam proved to be the stuff that dreams are made of. Scott Waites, a semi-professional darter who is a joiner by trade, made it all the way to the final to face the incomparable Phil Taylor. On his way to the final, he caused one of the biggest upsets in the group stage by beating the current BDO World Professional Darts Champion, Ted Hankey, who in true sore loser fashion went on to complain about the rowdiness of the crowd. With only one loss in the group stage, Waites then went on to the knock-out stages defeating Gary Anderson in the second round, followed by Simon Whitlock in the quarter finals, and then on to face Terry Jenkins in the semi-final.

Jenkins has been in great form this year, and he was one of my picks for the final. However, after the opening session, it was four legs to one in favor of Waites. Poor finishing from Jenkins meant he was behind for most of the semi-final, but eventually manged to claw himself back into the game to tie the game at eleven legs a piece. Jenkins was throwing well, but his finishing let him down once again and Waites took the next six legs to end the best of thirty-one and book his place in the final.

Facing Phil Taylor in a final must be a daunting prospect, even for the most seasoned professional, but Scott Waites seemed very relaxed at the final. The grin that was stretching from ear to ear was a testament to how happy he was to have made it that far. As you might expect, Taylor put on a masterclass of darting skill including a fantastic 170 finish in one round. Taylor’s brilliance totally outclassed Waites, and the one-sided affair ended 16-2 in Taylor’s favor. Despite his loss, Waites’s confidence seemed high for most of the final, and you could see how much he was enjoying himself with both players exchanging some friendly banter with each other and the crowd.

The 2009 Grand Slam of Darts was a fantastic tournament with lots of drama and great fun to watch. We also learned, through Twitter, that the magnificent Stephen Fry is a big darts fan. Now let’s hope I never have to hear “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis ever again.

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