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Live Darts November Editor’s Column - Grand Slam Taylor-made for The Power

Jamie Shaw in Editor's Column 24 Nov 2014
Taylor sets his stall out for December's redemption mission (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Along with the Premier League and World Championship - the Grand Slam has played an integral role in the rise and rise of professional darts over the past decade.

Just when it barely seems possible, each televised tournament appears to better itself in terms of drama and quality year-on-year, and the 2014 Grand Slam was no exception.

Unique in the way it brings a degree of unity between the two rival codes, even if only for a week, the Grand Slam served up everything you could wish for from an entertainment perspective - including the customary nine-darter from Kim Huybrechts - incredibly only the second in the eight-year history of the event.

Full credit to the boys from the BDO - including debutants Alan Norris and Robbie Green - who more than held their own in their first taste of life on the PDC stage. By the looks of things, it may not be their last either.

But despite all his off-the-oche trials and tribulations, one man stood a cut above the rest once again to affirm himself as the king of that Wolves Civic stage - 'The Power' from the nearby Potteries.

Cannily similar to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, there's something about the Civic Hall venue that brings out the best in Phil Taylor time and time again. 

It's a stage on which he feels at home, and the mixture of a round-robin and knock-out format suit him down to the ground, something which he again emphasised this year, producing one of his most consistent tournaments from start to finish in terms of ton-plus averages.

With his mother taken ill in hospital, Taylor could be forgiven for having more important family matters on his mind, but he channelled that emotion admirably while on the stage and duly took the trophy to his mum's bedside late on Sunday evening.

Describing his week at the Slam as an "escapism," Taylor had a twinkle in his eye that was not evident in Mulheim or Edinburgh over the previous fortnight. The World Championship is edging closer and he couldn't have picked a better time to send a clear message to the chasing pack. 

Back in business: Phil Taylor pictured alongside runner-up Dave Chisnall (Photo Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

After a transitional period in changing his long-term darts, Kim Huybrechts showed exactly what had been missing from his game over the past 18 months - an aggressive will to win.

The Belgian swept aside Michael van Gerwen and gave the Dutchman a taste of his own medicine - producing a superb mid-game surge which included a roof-raising nine-darter.

World Youth Champion Keegan Brown proved the fairy-tale story of this year's event as he captured the imagination of darts fans worldwide en route to the Quarter-Finals.

The 22-year-old is a breath of fresh air both on and off the oche and gave us a welcomed glimpse into the future with his showing in Wolverhampton - watch out for him at Ally Pally.

Dave Chisnall's run to the final underlined both his ruthless scoring ability and 'never say die' attitude - with the St Helens star battling back from behind the last eight, Semi-Finals and final - only to be out-muscled by the vast experience of Taylor at the last hurdle.

Having spent the majority of the tournament working from the press room at the venue, it was as fascinating as ever to get an insight into how the show is run.

The tireless work of hundreds of staff behind the scenes cannot be praised highly enough and it's sometimes easy to take for granted the sporting phenomenon that appears on our screens.

From a personal point of view, it was a honour to be asked to appear on the PDC's 'On The Wire' show to be broadcast on YouTube following the Semi-Finals, but I think it's safe to say Rod Harrington's job is safe for some while yet!

Like many avid darts fans, I was glued to the live score feeds during the weekend's final Players Championship events in Coventry, with all sorts of permutations flying around in terms of who could qualify for, or drop out of, the Players Championship Finals.

As it stands, Taylor looks to be heading for Minehead in a bid to regain the title, and that promises to be another unmissable weekend of darts and a timely warm-up for next month's show-piece.

Of course, the draw for the World Championship is also just around the corner and that's when the real excitement starts to build towards the festive season of tungsten.

With Sky Sports haven broken new ground by launching its very own darts channel, this year's World Championship is set up to be the biggest and best ever, with the title of World Champion perhaps more wide open than ever before. The countdown is on.  

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Live Darts November Editor’s Column - Grand Slam Taylor-made for The Power

Along with the Premier League and World Championship - the Grand Slam has played an integral role in the rise and rise of professional darts over the past decade.

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