The Grand Slam of Darts hosts a number of top names from the PDC and BDO. But there are a few players who are conspicuous by their absence.

Amid the 32 in the field for the crossover special are men’s world champions Michael van Gerwen and Glen Durrant, women’s world champion Mikuru Suzuki and BDO number one Wesley Harms. There are a few surprise names in the mix, mostly due to the PDC’s qualifying process – which hasn’t proved to be particularly popular.

While the system has benefited the likes of Ryan Harrington, Danny Noppert and Martin Schindler, some big names won’t be attending in Wolverhampton this year.

Here are five of the top names which aren’t on the Grand Slam of Darts roster (with honourable mentions for a few others).

Mensur Suljovic

Poor old Mensur Suljovic looked nailed on to be in the 32-player roster. He reached the semi-finals of the World Series of Darts Finals, losing to eventual champion Michael van Gerwen. And had Dave Chisnall won a last-leg decider against Danny Noppert, the Gentle would’ve been home and hosed.

But inexplicably, Noppert won and claimed a spot which is bizarrely reserved for the runner-up of a tournament that selects most of its players by invitation. Suljovic, world number nine and Austrian Darts Championship winner, wasn’t good enough.

The Austrian snubbed the Grand Slam of Darts qualifier, and ended up regretting it.

Joe Cullen

After winning his first European Tour event, Joe Cullen must have felt like he had a shot at the Slam.

However, a slew of final appearances for unfancied players like Steve Lennon and William O’Connor at the (unranked) World Cup of Darts meant that Cullen, like Suljovic, couldn’t rely on a European Tour victory.

The Bradford ace attempted to qualify in Wigan, but his chances were ended by an inspired Brendan Dolan.

We’ll leave the last word on this to the man himself.

Krzysztof Ratajski

Three players won a European Tour title this year without earning a Grand Slam of Darts place: Suljovic, Cullen and Krzysztof Ratajski.

It’s arguably the biggest shame that Ratajski won’t be in Wolverhampton, out of the three. The exciting Pole has built up a head of steam recently, and a major breakthrough seems inevitable. The former World Master won’t have feared any opponent, PDC or BDO alike.

Unfortunately for the Polish Eagle, a dip in that heady form at the qualifier saw him bow out at the hands of James Wilson. He would’ve fancied himself to beat Ryan Harrington in the qualification decider as well.

Honourable mentions go to other players who have won a PDC ranking event this year but haven’t made the cut: Jonny Clayton, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Harry Ward and Jose de Sousa. Simon Whitlock, Jermaine Wattimena and Stephen Bunting are all PDC top 20 players who will have to follow the action from home.

Kelly Deckers/PDC

Photo: Kelly Deckers/PDC

Raymond van Barneveld

There’s a simple reason that Raymond van Barneveld hasn’t made it to the Grand Slam of Darts; he hasn’t really turned up for anything.

The PDC have been very generous to the Dutch icon, but bending the rules to account for the Players Championship 8 runner-up was probably a step too far. Barney was expected to ride Michael van Gerwen’s coattails to a Wolverhampton place through the World Cup of Darts, but Jermaine Wattimena got the nod instead. In the end, it didn’t even do the trick for the Machine Gun.

Van Barneveld turned up the chance to go through the qualifier, a bizarre move for someone supposedly keen to extend his farewell season as far as it’ll go. Still, Minehead and the Ally Pally await for the five-time world champion.

Scott Waites

The BDO picks raised some eyebrows, but were mostly received very positively.

Glen Durrant makes his final appearance as a BDO representative – having switched to the PDC ten months ago. Fellow world champion Mikuru Suzuki will be there, while Wesley Harms and Lisa Ashton are top of the men’s and women’s rankings respectively.

Richard Veenstra has been given a nailed-on nod. Flyers is joined by fellow Grand Slam of Darts debutants and popular figures, Dave Parletti and Wayne Warren.

But the selections were very much the PDC’s. It has been well-documented that BDO chief Des Jacklin wouldn’t have made identical choices.

Who would he have preferred? Other than Paula Jacklin, obviously. Nick Kenny, Willem Mandigers and Martijn Kleermaker spring to mind.

Scott Mitchell and recent World Masters champion John O’Shea would also have been in the running. But the man who finished runner-up to O’Shea at the Circus Tavern deserves a mention.

Scott Waites has done more for the BDO at the Grand Slam of Darts than anyone else. He is the only person to have reached the final while representing the BDO; and he did it twice, winning it in 2010.

Waites hasn’t been at his best, but remains around the top of the rankings, and his Purfleet performance reminded the darting world that he retains the ability to go the distance in majors.

Another shot at the Grand Slam of Darts, a decade on from his first run to the final, could have been fitting.

Simon Drake/Tip Top Pics

Photo: Simon Drake/Tip Top Pics

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Author: Ed McCosh