Big Names Bite Back In Wolves

The 2022 Grand Slam of Darts kicked off on Saturday at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton and, after the opening days of group stage action, the big names are starting to let their presence be known to the rest of the competition. 

With surprise winners at two televised and ranked majors, already this year, the big guns seem keen to reassert their dominance in Wolverhampton

Gerwyn Price found a 12-dart leg in his win over Dave Chisnall, in a match that would see the winner qualify. The Iceman had to beat Chizzy after losing to Raymond van Barneveld on Sunday afternoon in a last leg decider. 

Barney came through on Monday night as the Group A winner, beating Ted Evetts 5-0 including a fantastic ton-plus finish of 126 to seal his third win in Wolverhampton so far. The former World Champion won the event back in 2012 after beating Michael van Gerwen 16-14 at the competition’s former home: the Civic Hall.

UK Open Champion Danny Noppert also secured his third win on Monday night, beating Austrian star Mensur Suljovic 5-4. The Freeze qualified for this year’s competition as the eighth seed on the back of his best darting year, claiming his first televised major title back in March. The Winmau man has enjoyed victories over debutant Christian Perez and reigning World Cup winner Simon Whitlock, with the best performance coming in his match with the Wizard from Aus

Whitlock, the 2010 World Finalist, also secured his spot in the Last 16,despite losing out to Noppert,  after beating Christian Perez 5-3 in Monday’s evening session. The Australian is certainly on a high after winning the World Cup alongside Damon Heta back in June and having signed a new deal with long-time backer Winmau.

Michael Smith made it three wins out of three as the fourth seed in the competition and qualified from Group C as the winner, followed by recent Premier League finalist Joe Cullen in second. Bully Boy secured a 5-1 win against Ritchie Edhouse on Monday, averaging 102 on the oche. 

The Rockstar comes in at second after he reeled four legs in a row against Women’s Series Number 1 Lisa Ashton, including a 158 checkout on double nineteen to break the throw in the sixth leg. 

Michael van Gerwen the reigning Premier League and World Matchplay champion secured his Last 16 qualification, beating Luke Woodhouse 5-1 on Sunday earning his second win at Aldersley Leisure Village having beat Nathan Rafferty on the opening day. 

Mighty Mike faces recent European Championship winner Ross Smith knowing a win will secure him pole position in Group G, with Smudger in second after he missed just three darts at double in beating Rafferty 5-2 on Sunday. 

Tournament Number 5 Rob Cross came through a last-leg decider to beat Martin Schindler in the last match of Monday’s evening session, finishing second in the group to Dirk van Duijvenbode who secured the top spot after a 5-3 win over Adam Gawlas. 

Voltage has never gone beyond the Quarter Finals in the Grand Slam, losing 16-14 to James Wade last year at Aldersley Leisure Village. Finishing second in the group has made the task a bit more difficult for the former World Champion, who knows he now faces a potential group winner having lost to van Duijvenbode on Sunday. 

The 2022 Grand Slam group stage comes to an end on Tuesday night with reigning World Champion Peter Wright still needing to secure his qualification into the Last 16, despite winning his opening two group games against Fallon Sherrock and Alan Soutar. 


Images: Taylor Lanning/PDC

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