Martin Adams maintained his 100% record at this year’s Grand Slam of Darts, beating his old adversary Steve Beaton 5-4 in a high-quality contest, to set up a last 16 clash against Kim Huybrechts.
Adams led 4-1, but Beaton produced a valiant fightback to secure his last 16 spot and force a last-leg decider. ‘Wolfie’ won the opening leg with a clinical two-dart 80 finish, but Beaton responded impressively with a classy 117 finish. Adams usurped this in the following leg, with a 118 checkout.
Adams’ finishing throughout the week has been absolutely exemplary, and this theme continued against ‘The Adonis’. Beaton needed one more leg to secure his qualification and he was understandably edgy; the 3-Time Lakeside Champion exploited this and forged 4-1 ahead.
However, Beaton clinched his all-important second leg on D5 and this suddenly released the shackles and he began throwing with a sense of freedom, which enabled him to restore parity with back-to-back 13 darters.
Although both men were assured of qualification, the last-leg was still a nervous affair, because the loser would be faced with the prospect of playing Michael van Gerwen in the last 16.
Adams held the advantage of throw and this paid dividends, as the 59-year-old hit D20 for a 16-darter to clinch his third win of the group-phase. However, Beaton won’t be phased by van Gerwen. He famously defeated Phil Taylor at the Grand Slam in 2010 and will be hoping to replicate similar heroics on Thursday evening.
Unfortunately, Andy Fordham’s Grand Slam fairytale was ended by Michael Smith, who defeated ‘The Viking’ 5-1 with a master-class in finishing, to secure top spot in Group C. In the last 16, Smith will face fellow St Helen’s ace Dave Chisnall.
Smith was in phenomenal form, but Fordham deserves immense credit and respect. His return to the big stage has been nothing short of astounding and he is an inspiration to many; his Grand Slam campaign will be fondly remembered for some time. This could prove to be the springboard Andy needs for future successes.
However, Smith was in unrelenting mood. He took out 61 to move 3-0 ahead, before taking out a third ton-plus checkout in the fourth leg. Fordham was sat on D20, but ‘Bully-Boy’ produced an effortless 112 checkout to move to the cusp of victory.
Fordham scored well in the opening stages, but Smith produced a stunning 160 checkout in the opening leg, before posting a sublime 150 finish in the second leg, with Fordham sat on 60.
The 2004 Lakeside Champion continued to battle; he was playing well and got his just rewards in the fifth leg, opening his account courtesy of D8. Smith missed two match darts in the sixth leg and Fordham capitalised, taking out 25 to double his tally.
However, any hopes of an extraordinary fightback were ended in the seventh leg, as Smith converted his reliable D20 to seal a 5-2 victory. Michael performed with great maturity and had to contend with a lot of emotions on stage, following the passing of his Uncle earlier in the day. He certainly did him proud with that performance.
The camaraderie and respect between the pair on stage was refreshing to see. The contest was competitive, but both players acknowledged each-other’s great darts and it was played in a terrific spirit.
Andy’s presence at this year’s competition has been absolutely fantastic. I’m sure all Darts fans will agree that he’s been a breath of fresh air in Wolverhampton and hopefully we will see him competing on the big stage more frequently in the near future.
Elsewhere, Michael van Gerwen maintained his 100% record in this year’s competition, defeating a dogged Steve West 5-3 and coming agonisingly close to a spectacular 9-darter. Van Gerwen’s triumph subsequently confirmed Kim Huybrechts’ last 16 spot.
West needed to defeat the World Number 1 in order to qualify and he began in perfect fashion, breaking throw with a somewhat unorthodox 116 checkout, culminating on D1.
However, in typical MvG fashion, van Gerwen responded emphatically. After hitting back-to-back maximums, he missed D12 for the second nine-darter of the tournament. Although it was an incredible leg, the vital ninth dart at D12 was particularly wayward!
When van Gerwen gains momentum, he is almost an impossible force to halt. He won the following two legs with considerable ease, but West deserves great credit, after he launched an unlikely fightback, taking out 68 to break, before restoring parity on D5.
‘The Green Machine’ remained unperturbed though; taking out 88 in just 11 darts to regain the lead at 4-3, before clinching the win on D5. van Gerwen averaged 105.38 and that average was damaged slightly by 3 missed darts in the eighth and final leg.
Van Gerwen is in imperious form and will take some stopping, as he continues his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title, which would complete his PDC collection.
Earlier in the evening, Huybrechts had beaten Mark Oosterhuis 5-2, which secured 2nd spot for the Belgian. Oosterhuis had failed to register a shot at a double in his previous two matches, but he produced a much-improved performance against ‘The Hurricane’.
Huybrechts took out 160 in the opening leg with Oosterhuis poised on 87, but the BDO qualifier was not discouraged and continued to plug away. He took out 60 in the third leg, by hitting both D20 and D10 to open his Grand Slam account.
Oosterhuis doubled his tally in the sixth leg with an impressive 15-darter, but Kim showed his class to fashion out a 5-2 win, with a 96 average. However, the Dutchman can head home with his head held high after finally demonstrating what he’s capable of.
Adrian Lewis survived a minor-scare to qualify for the knock-out stages, as he overcame the resilient Wayne Jones 5-3. Jones broke throw in the opening leg, but failed to cement the break, missing two darts for a 2-0 advantage.
Jones had a chance to regain the lead in the following leg, but he couldn’t take out 61 and was subsequently punished by Lewis. Despite this, Jones levelled up with an assured 14-darter in the fourth leg.
Lewis acknowledged that he needed to improve and he duly did so; winning back-to-back legs to move to the cusp of qualification. Nevertheless, one missed match dart was punished by local-favourite Jones, who converted an impressive 106 checkout to reduce the arrears to 4-3.
There was a nail-biting last-leg decider in prospect, but the two-time World Champion sealed the victory in the eighth leg, taking out 70 to conquer ‘The Wanderer’. After his abject display against Andy Fordham on Sunday, Jones’ performance was significantly better, but Lewis’ timing was the decisive factor.
World Number four Peter Wright also secured qualification to the knock-out stages with a hard-fought 5-3 victory over an under-par Mervyn King.
Wright dominated the contest in the scoring department, but some rare profligacy on the doubles kept King in touch. Snakebite missed three darts at D16 for a 4-2 lead, but he recovered excellently to lead 4-3, with all seven legs going with throw.
However, Mervyn was throwing a number of very low darts on the treble 20 and finally, Wright punished this against the throw, clinching the win and his subsequent last-16 spot with a 12-darter. Mervyn averaged just 81, therefore Wright will know he must improve when he faces Adrian Lewis in a mouthwatering last 16 clash.
Scott Mitchell bowed out of his debut Grand-Slam in some style, as he thrashed 9-dart hero Dave Chisnall 5-1 in the opening match of the evening. Mitchell had performed well against both Peter Wright and Mervyn King, for very little reward. However, he capitalised on sloppy doubling from Chisnall to claim his first group-phase victory.
In four of the five legs Mitchell won, Chisnall had opportunities at double; but ‘Scotty-Dog’ was ruthless; his last-dart doubling was particularly impressive. Ironically, his average of 93.6, his worst in this tournament, resulted in his best result. Nevertheless, in an extremely testing group, the Lakeside Champion acquitted himself extremely well.
Jelle Klaasen exited the Grand Slam of Darts in disappointing circumstances, after being subjected to a 5-1 demolition at the hands of Ian White. White missed D20 for a 160 checkout, enabling Klaasen to claim the opening leg.
However, from this point onwards, White was clinical. He took out 121 and 103 in successive legs to edge 2-1 ahead, before Klaasen faltered under White’s relentless scoring and finishing. ‘The Cobra’ has been in scintillating form in recent months and given that he defeated Steve Beaton, he’ll be bitterly disappointed with failing to qualify.
SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Thursday November 10
Groups A-D Final Games
Dave Chisnall 1-5 Scott Mitchell (D)
Ian White 5-1 Jelle Klaasen (B)
Kim Huybrechts 5-2 Mark Oosterhuis (A)
Adrian Lewis 5-3 Wayne Jones (C)
Michael van Gerwen 5-3 Steve West (A)
Peter Wright 5-3 Mervyn King (D)
Steve Beaton 4-5 Martin Adams (B)
Michael Smith 5-2 Andy Fordham (C)
|Michael van Gerwen||3||3||0||+11||6|
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