Former Grand Slam champion Raymond van Barneveld booked a sensational return to the tournament after securing one of the eight places on offer at Friday’s Tour Card holders qualifier at the Barnsley Metrodome.
Van Barneveld, who famously defeated his compatriot Michael van Gerwen to scoop the coveted title in 2012, defeated Alan Soutar, Danny Noppert and Brendan Dolan to seal his spot at Wolverhampton for the first time since 2018.
The five-time world champion has subsequently been pitted against two-time world champion Gary Anderson, five-time major finalist Michael Smith and World Youth Championship finalist Joe Davis in a mouthwatering Group H.
“I’m very emotional,” admitted Van Barneveld. “I’m a former winner of the Grand Slam and I’m really, really happy.
“Alan Soutar has beaten me two times already this year, and after that I had Danny Noppert, who has been playing his best darts in the last few weeks, and then I had Brendan Dolan.
“I think he missed match darts but sometimes you need a bit of luck and I’m over the moon to get through. It was such a special memory for me when I won the Grand Slam and I can’t wait to be a part of this tournament again.”
Elsewhere, Thursday’s Players Championship 30 winner Krzysztof Ratajski continued his prolific run of form by defeating William O’Connor 5-1 to secure his Grand Slam spot, while German duo Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler defeated Callan Rydz and Dave Chisnall respectively in their decisive clashes.
Croatia’s Boris Krcmar defeated both Dirk van Duijvenbode and Ross Smith to confirm his Grand Slam debut, and World Championship semi-finalist Stephen Bunting sealed his spot with a hard-fought win over Steve Brown.
Mike De Decker prevailed in an all-Belgian affair against Kim Huybrechts, while the eighth and final qualifier was Ryan Joyce, who remarkably rallied from 4-0 down to defeat two-time major winner Daryl Gurney.
The draw for the 32-player tournament – which will be staged at the Aldersley Leisure Village from November 13-21 – was made on Friday afternoon, as this year’s contingent battle it out for the Eric Bristow Trophy and the £125,000 top prize.
Fallon Sherrock will make her Grand Slam debut against World Matchplay champion Peter Wright on Saturday November 13, with Friday’s qualifiers Clemens and De Decker also drawn in Group E.
Three-time champion Michael van Gerwen will kick off his campaign against four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton, and they’ll be joined by an in-form Joe Cullen and World Cup winner John Henderson in Group G.
The draw has pitted reigning champion Jose de Sousa against UK Open runner-up Luke Humphries, World Cup finalist Mensur Suljovic and Canada’s Matt Campbell in a tasty looking Group F.
Top seed Gerwyn Price is aiming to lift a third Grand Slam crown in 2021, and he will take on World Matchplay semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski in Group A, alongside Schindler and UK Development Tour winner Nathan Rafferty.
Jonny Clayton will begin his bid for a fifth major title of 2021 in Group B, which contains the veteran Mervyn King, World Youth champion Bradley Brooks and the European Development Tour champion, who will be confirmed on Sunday.
UK Open champion James Wade and European Championship winner Rob Cross are joined by Krcmar and former Lakeside finalist Jim Williams in Group C, with former World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh headlining Group D, which also features Bunting, Joyce and Rowby-John Rodriguez.
Image Credit: PDC
2021 Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts Draw
(1) Gerwyn Price
(8) Jonny Clayton
European Development Tour Champion
(4) James Wade
(5) Dimitri Van den Bergh
(2) Peter Wright
Mike De Decker
(7) Jose de Sousa
(3) Michael van Gerwen
(6) Gary Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld