Martin Adams playing the Grand Slam: A Watershed Moment in Darts?

On the 16th July this year, something happened which could change the landscape of televised darts as we know it for years to come.

Martin Adams, the old stalwart of the BDO, and this year’s beaten finalist at Lakeside, accepted an invitation to play in the PDC’s Grand Slam of Darts.

It caused such a reaction on social media that it was almost forgotten that Scott Mitchell, Martin Phillips and Geert de Vos had also accepted invitations.

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BDO in the PDC

It won’t be the first time Adams has played in a PDC event. Indeed, he reached the semi-finals of the 2001 PDC World Matchplay and the quarter-finals of the 2001 World Grand Prix, beaten by darts royalty, Phil Taylor and John Lowe.

Ronnie Baxter - losing finalist in the Masters in 1998. Image: pdc.tv
Ronnie Baxter – losing Matchplay finalist in 1998 while still a BDO player. Image: pdc.tv

Numerous BDO players had played in these events until that point, Ronnie Baxter was a beaten Matchplay finalist in 1998 – he, of course, moved across to the PDC in 2002.

However, after 2002, the PDC restricted entry to their tournaments for members of their own Professional Dart Players Association (PDPA) only. As a staunch BDO loyalist, this ended Adams brief flirtation with official PDC majors.

That is until this year, when Adams will delight his fans by playing the Grand Slam, an event he has previously rejected in 2007, 2008 and 2009, when he received invites. The PDC decided not to bother inviting him after 2009, with Wolfie claiming, “it would save me the time in having to refuse them”.

“It would save me the time in having to refuse them”.

Martin Adams, on previously not being invited to play in the Grand Slam

Darting Cold War

After the BDO/PDC split in 1994 there was a lot of bad blood on both sides. Both parties had bled themselves dry going through the courts after a protracted legal battle and the newly formed PDC were struggling to establish themselves against the established BDO. Clearly the BDO had big problems too, having lost their top 16 players to the PDC – it took a long time for both organisations to recover.

Barry Hearn - Chairman of the PDC offered to buy the BDO for £1m in 2002. Image: expressandstar.com
Barry Hearn – Chairman of the PDC offered to buy the BDO for £1m in 2009.
Image: expressandstar.com

This bitterness and in-fighting on both sides continued well into the 2000’s, and reached a head in 2009 when Barry Hearn offered a £1m to buy the BDO and unite darts. The offer was rejected out of hand, with the BDO calling it, “a cheap publicity stunt”.

There appeared to be a lot of anger on the BDO’s side that Hearn wanted to unite the two codes and bring them under his leadership, and both parties continued to fight a darting cold war.

Grand Slam of Darts

The Grand Slam of Darts, held at the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton, has been a revelation since its inception in 2007. As the tournament is invitational, with many of its players reaching major finals and semi-finals, there is a great deal of prestige attached to the players that play in the event. In 2010, Scott Waites beat James Wade to remain the only BDO player who has won the event, in arguably the tournament’s most thrilling final.

Clockwise from top left: Martin Adams, Scott Mitchell, Geert de Vos and Martin Phillips.
Clockwise from top left: Martin Adams, Scott Mitchell, Geert de Vos and Martin Phillips.

There have been significant changes this year however, with the BDO for the first time providing 8 players from their organisation (one player for each of the groups) and even holding two separate qualifying tournaments to determine the other four players who will receive invites.

This is the first time both organisations have worked together to structure the event and shows how far they have both come in their willingness to work with one another, something which was inconceivable only a few years ago.

Wolfie

Obviously, as Adams is the figurehead of the BDO, it was important to show their willingness to mend broken bridges by making sure all of their star players played the event, and Adams even admitted, “If the BDO hadn’t have asked me to play, I probably wouldn’t have”.

It will be very interesting to see how Adams fares against some of the bigger fish in the PDC. He showed he is still more than capable of playing excellent darts in the Lakeside event this year, his games against Glen Durrant and Scott Mitchell both being absolute thrillers.

“If the BDO hadn’t have asked me to play, I probably wouldn’t have.”

Martin Adams, on accepting his invitation to the Grand Slam of Darts 2015

There aren’t many in the game that match his experience and I fully expect him to progress to the latter stages of the event, and then who knows? It would be a supreme irony if he managed to win the tournament he rejected for so long.

Join In

Whether he’s a hero or a villain to you, there’s no denying the fact that all eye’s will be on Wolfie when he finally takes to the stage in the Civic Hall, Wolverhampton. Send your words of encouragement or explain your dislike of him in the comments section below.

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