The group stage of the 2020 Grand Slam of Darts draws to a close in Coventry on Thursday with seven…
The group stage of the 2020 Grand Slam of Darts draws to a close in Coventry on Thursday with seven places in the knock-out phase up for grabs.
Day Three at the Ricoh Arena saw four players progress through straight shoot-outs in their respective groups, with Gary Anderson, Damon Heta, Nathan Aspinall and Rob Cross moving through.
Thursday’s picture is more mathematically complex, with only one player in action already assured of a place in the Last 16.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Michael van Gerwen is safe in the knowledge that he will feature in the knock-out phase, but the world number one will look to make it three wins from three in Group A to clinch top spot.
Van Gerwen has come out firing over the short format so far, averaging 105.8 and 103.6 in 5-0 and 5-1 demolitions of Adam Hunt and Gabriel Clemens respectively.
His third and final group fixture comes against in-form Joe Cullen in a repeat of last month’s International Open final, which Cullen won 8-5.
Cullen starts the night in third spot, having bounced back from defeat to Clemens by edging past Hunt with the aid of a sensational 164 checkout in the deciding leg.
Clemens will have the opportunity to clinch his Last 16 spot if he can beat Hunt 5-0, otherwise will be out to pile the pressure on Cullen with a win by any other scoreline.
Debutant qualifier Hunt has lost both of his matches so far despite impressive showings and must defeat Clemens 5-0 or 5-1 and hope MVG can dispatch Cullen in order to send him through.
Group E, touted pre-tournament as the ‘Group of Death’ is also set to go down to the wire, with all four players still in with a chance of qualification.
Devon Petersen leads the way after two games, having defeated both Ian White and Dirk van Duijvenbode 5-2 to put him on the brink of qualification.
A win over World Champion Peter Wright would send him through as group winner with a £3,500 bonus, though only a heavy defeat coupled with a heavy win for Van Duijvenbode over White could see him miss out completely.
Wright averaged 106.8 in a 5-3 win over White, changing his darts mid-match, and will look to pick up from where he left off to gain the win that would see him through if he can better Van Duijvenbode’s scoreline.
White requires a mathematical miracle if he is to gatecrash the Last 16, with a dominant win needed over Van Duijvenbode and a heavy defeat for Wright.
Michael Smith can wrap up top spot in Group C with maximum points if he can overcome Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski.
Smith has dropped just three legs in his opening two matches so far, averaging 102.5 in each, but will be poised for a tough test from the world number 14.
Ratajski recovered from 4-1 down to deny Lisa Ashton in a last-leg decider, keeping his qualification hopes alive after an opening defeat to Jose De Sousa.
Ratajski occupies second spot and would advance with a win, providing De Sousa does not overturn the two-leg deficit.
Portuguese debutant De Sousa kicks off the night’s action against four-time Women’s World Champion Ashton – who is effectively playing for pride but still holds a slim hope of qualification if she can win heavily and other results go her way.
Reigning and back-to-back Boylesports Grand Slam of Darts champion Gerwyn Price has destiny in his own hands in Group G as he bids to rubber-stamp top spot.
Price has been far from at his best so far, surviving match darts from Mikuru Suzuki in their last-leg decider before recovering from 2-0 down to defeat Jonny Clayton 5-3.
The World Grand Prix and World Cup winner takes on ProTour event winner Ryan Joyce – who occupies second spot going into the evening.
Joyce was edged out by Clayton 5-4 in his opener but boosted his legs difference with a dominant 5-1 win over Suzuki on Tuesday.
A win for Joyce would see him progress as group winner, while a defeat, coupled with a Clayton win over Suzuki would see ‘The Ferret’ advance alongside his Welsh compatriot Price.
Two-time Women’s World Champion Suzuki has given a fine account of herself so far and will look to put the cat among the pigeons with another strong display of finishing.
The Japanese star would require a heavy win over Clayton and a heavy Price victory over Joyce in order to snatch second spot.
The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with Group Stage fixtures to be contested over the best of nine legs.
Boylesports Grand Slam of Darts 2020 Schedule
Thursday November 19
Jose De Sousa v Lisa Ashton (C)
Michael Smith v Krzysztof Ratajski (C)
Jonny Clayton v Mikuru Suzuki (G)
Gerwyn Price v Ryan Joyce (G)
Ian White v Dirk van Duijvenbode (E)
Peter Wright v Devon Petersen (E)
Gabriel Clemens v Adam Hunt (A)
Michael van Gerwen v Joe Cullen (A)