On Thursday evening at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry the group phase of the 2020 Boyle Sports Grand Slam of Darts came to an end. Decisions were made in groups A, C, E and G.
At the start of the session, José de Sousa and Lisa Ashton went head to head. The Portuguese, who was two legs behind Krzysztof Ratajaski in third place of the table before the final games, knew that he needed a big victory if he was to have a good chance of progressing – and “The Special One” delivered. He defeated Lisa Ashton 5:1 with an average of over 100 points, although the “Lancashire Rose” was not in top form today.
So the pressure before the match between Michael Smith and Krzysztof Ratajski was clearly on the Pole’s shoulders, but the Bully Boy also had to be vary of a defeat. But Smith left no doubt as to who would march into the round of the last sixteen. The man from St. Helen’s played an average of 106.93 and with his great scoring didn’t let Ratajski get into the game at all. A 5:2 win for Smith ensured him the group win and Josè de Sousa a spot in the next round.
The decision in group G followed and it turned out to be a true thriller. First Jonny Clayton did everything right in his match against Jonny Clayton and defeated a disappointing Mikuru Suzuki by 5:0. An average of 90 points was enough for the Welshman to put the pressure on his two opponents to move into round 2.
This was because none of the top 3 in Group G had yet secured their spot in the round of the last 16 before the match between defending champions Gerwyn Price and Ryan Joyce. Price grabbed the first leg in impressive style, started with a 177 and checked 124 to make it 1:0 before Joyce could equalize with a 124 finish. This put Jonny Clayton through to round 2 and only the winner of the match between Price and Joyce would follow him.
As a result, the two-time Grand Slam champion came under more and more pressure and was suddenly trailing 4-2 against Ryan Joyce who put on an impressive display. But then the Iceman showed why many people consider him to be the best darts player in the world at the moment. The Welshman played incredible darts to win the game 5:4 and even survived a match dart from Ryan Joyce on the Bulls Eye. In the end he averaged above 106 points, which allowed Price to advance to the next round as group winner.
“When it was 2:4 I knew of course that I was up against it now. But I never stopped believing,” said a visibly relieved Gerwyn Price after the match.
In Group E, after the first match between Ian White and Dirk van Duijvenbode, a very similar situation developed as in Group G. White displayed an absolute world-class performance and did not give the Titan the slightest chance, although he himself did not play badly at all. The Diamond ended up with an average of a sensational 108 and secured an important 5:1 victory.
This meant that before the match between Devon Petersen and Peter Wright, it was already certain that the South African would reach the round of the last sixteen. However, the world champion was under pressure and had to win at least four legs to go through.
And the pressure on Snakebite showed as he did not play well and missed many chances on the doubles. He lost to Petersen by 2:5 and played an average of just 83 points. So Ian White made the sensational leap from the last place in the table into round two.
At the end of the fourth day of the Grand Slam of Darts, the decision in Group A followed, which was eagerly awaited by German darts fans. Gabriel Clemens from Saarwellingen had the best chances after the first two days of play to secure himself the second place behind the already qualified Michael van Gerwen.
With a victory over Adam Hunt the German Giant could have made his progression as good as certain – but it was to come differently. Although the German had an excellent start to the match and quickly took a 2-0 lead with great darts, the tide turned completely and Hunt took the next five legs in a row. With this victory “The Hunter” was suddenly in pole position to make it to the second round, provided that Michael van Gerwen would beat Joe Cullen in the last game of the evening.
The world number 1 did the Hunter this favour, although MVG was not in as good shape as he had been on the first two days. An average of almost 93 points was enough for the three-time world champion to beat the Rockstar by 5:3, mainly because Cullen missed chances on the doubles in crucial situations. So Adam Hunt also managed to qualify for the second round having started the day in the last position. Especially painful for Gabriel Clemens: Just one more leg against Adam Hunt would have been enough for the big German to go through.
On Friday evening on Sky Sports, DAZN, Sport 1 and RTL 7 the Boyle Sports Grand Slam of Darts will continue with the first four second round matches.
2020 Boyle Sports Grand Slam of Darts, Thursday, November 19, 8x 1st round
Jose De Sousa 5:1 Lisa Ashton (C)
Michael Smith 5:2 Krzysztof Ratajski (C)
Jonny Clayton 5:0 Mikuru Suzuki (G)
Gerwyn Price 5:4 Ryan Joyce (G)
Ian White 5:1 Dirk van Duijvenbode (E)
Peter Wright 2:5 Devon Petersen (E)
Gabriel Clemens 2:5 Adam Hunt (A)
Michael van Gerwen 5:3 Joe Cullen (A)
After the completion of the group stage the Grand Slam will continue with the following second round matches:
2020 BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts, Friday, November 20 (7pm GMT), 2nd round, Best of 19 Legs
Dimitri Van den Bergh – Jonny Clayton
James Wade – Ian White
Simon Whitlock – Adam Hunt
Dave Chisnall – José De Sousa
Saturday, November 21 (7pm GMT)
Michael Smith – Rob Cross
Devon Petersen – Damon Heta
Michael van Gerwen – Gary Anderson
Gerwyn Price – Nathan Aspinall