Jonny Clayton stunned Michael van Gerwen in one of the greatest games ever seen at the Grand Slam of Darts, as Gary Anderson posted the fourth highest average in the tournament’s history on a dramatic day of action in Wolverhampton.
There were several classic encounters on day two, but the biggest story saw defending champion Michael van Gerwen beaten in an incredible deciding-leg by Jonny Clayton. ‘The Green Machine’ is bidding for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam crown and he appeared poised to break his own record televised average of 123.40 at one stage.
The Dutchman led 4-2 but spurned three match darts in the penultimate leg of the contest, and Clayton capitalised; sealing an incredible comeback win with a 14-darter in the decider. MvG still finished with a 107.90 average, but his 21-match unbeaten run at this tournament was ended by an inspired ‘Ferret’, who averaged 103.60 himself.
The other Group A contest saw Gary Robson produce a stunning fightback from 4-1 down to stun Bolton qualifier Joe Murnan. The BDO veteran struggled in the early stages, but finishes of 118 and 116 saw him force a decider, before he exploited two missed match darts from ‘Shaggy’ to keep his hopes of qualification alive.
Gary Anderson recorded the fourth highest average in Grand Slam of Darts history as he demolished Ian White 5-1 in a brutal display. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ crashed in seven maximums in just six legs; averaging 112.54 and boasting a brilliant 71% checkout success rate, with his winning legs coming in 12, 14, 12, 14 and 11 darts.
BDO World Trophy Finalist Michael Unterbuchner now faces a straight shootout for qualification with White, after the German eased past Steve Hine 5-2. Unterbuchner raced into a 3-0 lead and although ‘The Muffin Man’ reeled off successive legs to threaten a fightback, the BDO qualifier triumphed with an impressive 97.09 average.
Raymond van Barneveld survived a major scare in Group B, as Adam Smith-Neale missed four match darts to dump the 2012 champion out of the tournament. All nine legs went with throw, but the World Masters winner spurned four darts in a nervy final leg, as Van Barneveld sank D10 to prevail with an 88.72 average and keep his hopes alive.
However, Michael Smith has control of the group, after fighting back from 3-1 down to defeat Krzysztof Ratajski in another last-leg decider. ‘The Polish Eagle’ took out finishes of 74 and 100 to establish a two-leg cushion, but Smith won four of the final five legs; averaging 97.26, firing in four maximums and converting 71% of his double attempts.
James Wade continued his bid for a third consecutive televised title with a fine 5-3 win over former World Youth champion Keegan Brown. ‘The Machine’ averaged 104.70 and converted finishes of 121, 105 and 101 to extend his unbeaten run to 12 games- sealing his progression to the knockout stages in the process.
Brown acquitted himself superbly with a 102.10 average, and he’ll now face Wesley Harms in a straight shoot-out for qualification in Group C, after Harms defeated Mark Webster 5-3. The Welshman had darts to win seven of the eight legs but was left to rue missed opportunities, as the Dutchman prevailed with an 88.91 average.
Earlier in the afternoon, world champion Rob Cross was the first man to seal his spot in the knockout stages after edging out Dimitri Van den Bergh in a gripping nine-leg affair. The Belgian wired the bull for victory in the decider, which enabled Cross to triumph with a 98.08 average, as Van den Bergh suffered defeat despite averaging 100.11.
The reigning World Youth champion now meets BDO number two Mark McGeeney in a winner-takes-all clash on Monday evening. McGeeney reeled off four straight legs from 3-1 down to defeat Ryan Searle in Sunday’s opener, taking out a crucial 108 finish in the penultimate leg en route to eliminating the Somerset star.
Stephen Bunting recorded his highest televised average to defeat sixth seed Mensur Suljovic 5-3 in an entertaining Group G affair. ‘The Bullet’ averaged 104.36, fired in two maximums and converted 50% of his attempts at double to defeat ‘The Gentle’, who also registered a ton-topping average.
Scott Mitchell prevailed in the other Group G contest; winning five consecutive legs to thrash Martin Schindler 5-1. ‘Scotty Dog’ averaged 99.40 and sank 41% of his attempts at a double, and he now faces Bunting in a battle of the former Lakeside champions, with Mitchell and Suljovic currently tied on points and legs difference.
Gerwyn Price fired in seven maximums as he edged out BDO world champion Glen Durrant in a pulsating nine-leg Group F tussle. ‘The Iceman’ also averaged 101.60 and converted 56% of his attempts at a double, but he’s still not assured of his qualification ahead of his final group game against fellow Premier League star Simon Whitlock.
‘The Wizard’ kept his Grand Slam campaign alive with a convincing 5-2 win over Andrew Gilding. The European Championship finalist produced a vital 116 finish in the sixth leg to seize control, and as he faces a must-win clash against Price, Durrant takes on Gilding, knowing that victory will see him through to the last 16 for the third straight year.
World number two Peter Wright made it two wins from two in Group E with a comfortable 5-2 win over German number one Max Hopp. The opening four legs all went with throw, before ‘Snakebite’ capitalised on some wayward darts from the former World Youth champion to triumph with a 98.46 average.
Wright now faces Josh Payne- who moved up to second spot with an impressive 5-2 win over BDO number three Jim Williams. The Welshman- who fired in four maximums- led 2-1 at one stage, but Payne’s finishing proved decisive. The 24-year-old won the final four legs without reply to register his first ever win at the Grand Slam.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts
Schedule of Play
Sunday November 11
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)
Groups E-H Second Matches
Mark McGeeney 5-3 Ryan Searle (H)
Josh Payne 5-2 Jim Williams (E)
Scott Mitchell 5-1 Martin Schindler (G)
Simon Whitlock 5-2 Andrew Gilding (F)
Stephen Bunting 5-3 Mensur Suljovic (G)
Rob Cross 5-4 Dimitri Van den Bergh (H)
Gerwyn Price 5-4 Glen Durrant (F)
Peter Wright 5-2 Max Hopp (E)
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Groups A-D Second Matches
Michael Unterbuchner 5-2 Steve Hine (D)
Gary Robson 5-4 Joe Murnan (A)
Wesley Harms 5-3 Mark Webster (C)
Raymond van Barneveld 5-4 Adam Smith-Neale (B)
James Wade 5-3 Keegan Brown (C)
Michael Smith 5-4 Krzysztof Ratajski (B)
Jonny Clayton 5-4 Michael van Gerwen (A)
Gary Anderson 5-1 Ian White (D)
Monday November 12 (1900 GMT)
Rob Cross v Ryan Searle (H)
Andrew Gilding v Glen Durrant (F)
Simon Whitlock v Gerwyn Price (F)
Mensur Suljovic v Martin Schindler (G)
Stephen Bunting v Scott Mitchell (G)
Max Hopp v Jim Williams (E)
Peter Wright v Josh Payne (E)
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Mark McGeeney (H)
Tuesday November 13 (1900 GMT)
James Wade v Mark Webster (C)
Gary Anderson v Steve Hine (D)
Ian White v Michael Unterbuchner (D)
Keegan Brown v Wesley Harms (C)
Michael van Gerwen v Joe Murnan (A)
Jonny Clayton v Gary Robson (A)
Krzysztof Ratajski v Adam Smith-Neale (B)
Michael Smith v Raymond van Barneveld (B)