Michael van Gerwen will begin his assault for a fourth successive Grand Slam of Darts title against Jonny Clayton, Joe Murnan and Gary Robson, after the draw for the unique-cross code event was made on Tuesday.
Van Gerwen and his compatriot Raymond van Barneveld are the only two players in this year’s field to have tasted Grand Slam glory and ‘The Green Machine’ will be heavily fancied to progress from Group A.
The world number one has been pitted against Austrian Darts Open winner Jonny Clayton, qualifier Joe Murnan and BDO veteran Gary Robson. Robson defeated Van Gerwen at the Lakeside back in 2007 and the pair will clash in the opening group game, although MvG will be a comprehensive favourite on this occasion.
World number two Peter Wright has been drawn in Group E alongside former World Youth champion Max Hopp, 2017 World Youth Championship finalist Josh Payne and Welshman Jim Williams, who reached the BDO World Championship quarter-finals back in January.
World champion Rob Cross will be hoping to return to form in Wolverhampton after his disappointing showing at the World Series Finals. ‘Voltage’ will face Dimitri van den Bergh in a repeat of their classic encounter at the Alexandra Palace, and debutant Ryan Searle and Lakeside finalist Mark McGeeney complete the Group H line-up.
Two-time world champion Gary Anderson will be looking to add a maiden Grand Slam crown to his ever-growing collection in Wolverhampton this week. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ will begin his campaign against World Trophy runner-up Michael Unterbuchner, with Ian White and debutant Steve Hine also featuring in Group D.
James Wade headlines Group C, as ‘The Machine’ bids to secure a third successive televised title. Wade will face Wesley Harms in his opener, with Harms returning to Wolverhampton after a four-year hiatus. Meanwhile, former World Youth champion Keegan Brown and three-time quarter-finalist Mark Webster make up the group.
Mensur Suljovic faces a tough assignment in a strong Group G. The former Champions League of Darts winner has been drawn against in-form German star Martin Schindler, as well as former Lakeside world champions Stephen Bunting and Scott Mitchell.
Seventh seed Simon Whitlock faces BDO world champion Glen Durrant on the opening day of the tournament, whilst Premier League star Gerwyn Price and 2015 UK Open semi-finalist Andrew Gilding also feature in Group F.
However, arguably the toughest quartet is headed up by eighth seed Michael Smith- runner-up at last weekend’s World Series Finals. Smith has been drawn alongside 2012 winner and five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, and the two most recent World Masters winners- Krzysztof Ratajski and Adam Smith-Neale.
The opening group matches will be held on Saturday November 10, with play across two sessions, before Sunday November 11 sees the second group games at the Aldersley Leisure Village.
The final group matches will take place on Monday and Tuesday, with the top two players from each group progressing to the last-16 knockout stage.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts
(1) Michael van Gerwen
(8) Michael Smith
Raymond van Barneveld
(5) James Wade
(4) Gary Anderson
(2) Peter Wright
(7) Simon Whitlock
(6) Mensur Suljovic
(3) Rob Cross
Dimitri Van den Bergh