Peter Wright produced arguably the performance of his career to dump out six-time winner Phil Taylor and set up a semi-final clash with defending champion Michael van Gerwen on a thrilling night of Grand Slam action at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Friday evening.
Wright secured a spot in his maiden Wolves semi-final with an incredible 16-10 victory over ‘The Power’. Snakebite averaged 103.37, fired in ten maximums and converted 40% of his doubles, including five fantastic ton-plus finishes.
Wright made a very authoritative start, winning the opening two legs in 15 and 14 darts respectively. Snakebite then missed the bullseye for a 135 finish, but ‘The Power’ was unable to capitalise by taking out 97, as the Scot pinned D8 to secure a 3-0 lead.
Taylor then missed tops for an 82 checkout as Wright claimed his fourth consecutive leg with a clinical 64 finish, before the 16-time world champion landed his second maximum as he desperately attempted to open his account. It was to no avail however, as Snakebite converted a 76 kill to round-off a 12-darter and head into the interval 5-0 up.
Taylor opened his account on D10 after Wright wired the bull for a 132 checkout and his sixth straight leg, but Snakebite recovered a registered a quality 13-darter to move 6-1 ahead. Despite this, Taylor launched a valiant fightback, winning three straight legs in just 42 darts to reduce the arrears to 6-4 at the second interval.
Wright emerged from the interval in inspired mood and came agonisingly close to recording the first televised nine-darter of his career, but his final dart at D12 was agonisingly below the wire. However the Scot returned to eventually hold on D1, before Taylor fired straight back on D12.
‘The Power’ then pinned D8 after firing in a stunning 170 in the preceding visit as he reduced the deficit to 7-6, but he was unable to cement this break of throw as Wright broke back instantly with a spectacular 152 finish. Snakebite’s clinical finishing continued into the following leg, as he powered in a 101 checkout to establish a three-leg cushion.
Taylor held throw after the interval, before producing a moment of magic. Wright uncharacteristically missed five darts at double, and the 56-year-old broke back with a majestic 143 checkout. Yet once again, the Stoke star was unable to restore parity, as Wright eventually cleaned up on D10 to restore his two-leg lead.
Both players were playing superbly well although up until this point, Wright’s stunning combination finishing had been decisive and this pattern continued. Snakebite took out a sensational 141 finish to move 11-8 ahead, before converting an equally brilliant 121 finish on D14 to move four legs clear of the six-time Grand Slam winner.
The pair traded holds of throw after the interval, before Wright moved to within two legs of victory with a nerveless 80 finish. Despite this, Taylor remained in contention with a critical 64 checkout culminating on D4.
Ultimately, Wright had too much heavy artillery for Taylor, and he moved to within a leg of victory by following up his ninth maximum by hitting D5. Taylor had the opportunity to stay afloat by taking out 80, but he pulled his solitary dart at tops as Wright returned to hit D8 and complete a 14-darter and book his spot in the semi-finals.
Elsewhere, defending champion Michael van Gerwen stormed into the semi-finals after dismantling Brendan Dolan 16-3. ‘The Green Machine’ was completely and utterly dominant from the outset, averaging 97.33 and landing eight maximums to record the second biggest margin of victory in Grand Slam history.
Despite this, MvG struggled in the finishing department, converting just 16 of his 53 attempts at double, a poultry checkout ratio of 30.19%. However, Dolan simply wasn’t at the races. He averaged just 88.24, hit the solitary maximum and converted just 27% of his double attempts, as he suffered a humbling defeat in his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
The world number one won the opening two legs despite missing seven darts at double, before powering in a 104 checkout to establish a 3-0 cushion. Dolan missed D8 for a 136 finish as MvG secured his fourth consecutive leg, as the Dutchman then converted a classy 121 checkout on D18 to head into the interval with a commanding 5-0 advantage.
Van Gerwen was scoring superbly and left 47 after just 9 darts as he attempted to win his sixth leg in succession, but the reigning champion missed a further two darts at double as Dolan managed to open his account on D16.
Nevertheless, this didn’t prompt a fightback from the Northern Irishman. ‘Mighty Mike’ continued to monopolise the scoring stakes and reeled off a further five legs in succession to storm into an unassailable 10-1 advantage.
Van Gerwen’s pattern of dominance continued as he continued his winning sequence of legs to move 13-1 ahead. However, ‘The History-Maker’ was given some respite, as he pinned tops to double his tally after further missed doubles from MvG.
The sixteenth leg was a high-quality affair. Van Gerwen powered in two maximums whilst Dolan also landed his first 180, although after the number one seed missed two darts at D20 and D10 respectively, Dolan took full advantage to hit tops and seal his second straight leg.
Van Gerwen’s tally of missed doubles rose to 31 in the following leg, but he eventually cleaned up on D1 as normal service was resumed, before Dolan missed tops for his fourth leg, as MvG moved 15-3 ahead, just one leg away from victory. The Dutchman’s double-trouble continued, but he finally sealed his progression on D1 to round-off a procession.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Friday November 18 (7pm)
Michael van Gerwen 16-3 Brendan Dolan
Peter Wright 16-10 Phil Taylor