Raymond van Barneveld produced one of the most astonishing displays in Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts history to stun reigning champion Gerwyn Price 16-13 and set up a semi-final showdown against Michael Smith.
Van Barneveld – featuring in his first televised quarter-final since November 2019 – recovered from 8-3 down to send Price packing on an exhilarating Friday night in Wolverhampton.
The five-time World Champion – who only came out of retirement last February – rolled back the years to inflict Price’s first defeat in a knockout tie at the Aldersley Leisure Village.
Van Barneveld defeated Price in a thrilling Group Stage tussle earlier in the event, and he repeated the feat to secure his place in a first Grand Slam semi-final since 2015.
The 2012 champion missed darts to win each of the first two legs, and despite landing a ten-darter to open his account, he trailed Price 3-2 at the first interval with a 107 average.
The Dutch veteran followed up his third 180 with a 98 finish to level inside 12 darts, but he paid the price for squandering two darts in leg eight, as a trio of 13-darters catapulted Price into a 7-3 lead.
The Welshman extended his winning run to five legs as he threatened to run away with the tie, but Van Barneveld launched a spirited revival, following up back-to-back 15-darters with an 11-dart hold to make it 6-8.
The 55-year-old then punished seven missed doubles across three legs from Price to make it six legs without reply, before raising the roof with a spectacular 157 finish to move 10-8 ahead.
Van Barneveld was riding the crest of a wave, wiring the bull for a show-stopping 170 finish as Price finally stopped the rot, but the former Premier League champion responded with a two-dart 78 combination to restore his two-leg buffer.
He continued his astonishing run with legs of 13 and 12 darts to stretch his advantage to 13-10, and with Price faltering on the outer ring, Van Barneveld pinned double four to move to within two legs of a famous victory.
Price fought back from 8-6 adrift to defeat Danny Noppert in the last 16, and he threatened to produce similar heroics against another Dutchman, reeling off three straight legs to reduce the arrears to 14-13, featuring a 12-dart break in leg 26.
However, with the world number one poised to make it 14-14, Van Barneveld sank a nerveless 71 finish on tops to move one leg away, before firing in a 13-darter to cap off an inspired display.
“I was struggling for many years, but I’m so happy right now. What a feeling,” reflected Van Barneveld, through to his first ranking semi-final since the 2017 World Championship.
“I’m probably in the top five players of all-time
along with Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Eric Bristow and John Lowe, and everyone knows I can do this. It is all about belief.”
“I love to play darts, I love to play in front of this amazing crowd, and I believe I can win this.”
Van Barneveld will now take on Michael Smith for a place in Sunday night’s showpiece, after Smith recovered from 15-13 down to edge out Joe Cullen in a gripping last-leg decider.
The two-time world finalist raced out of the blocks before suffering a mid-game slump, but he fought back magnificently to prevail in a rollercoaster clash, denying Cullen a single match dart in the closing stages.
Smith enjoyed a profitable opening session, hitting four 180s in as many legs to seize the initiative, although Cullen stayed in contention after the St Helens star spurned three darts for a 4-1 lead.
Cullen made it seven legs from eight with a superb 12-darter to lead 12-9, only for Smith to deliver a spirited riposte, converting 110 and 78 outshots before halting a run of four straight breaks to cut the gap to 13-12.
The Masters champion responded with dominant holds of throw to move to the brink of victory at 15-13, before landing a brace of maximums in leg 29 to pile the pressure on Smith.
However, the two-time World Championship runner-up was up to the task, following up a skin-saving 70 checkout with a majestic 11-dart break to force a dramatic deciding leg.
Smith had the advantage of throw in the last-leg shoot-out, and despite Cullen firing in a timely 11th maximum to set up a potential two-darter, Smith sealed his progression with a 76 finish on tops to book his place in Sunday’s semi-finals.
“When I was 15-13 down it was now or never,” admitted Smith, who averaged 100 and landed 14 maximums to prevail in a Wolverhampton classic.
“I feel sorry for Joe because I love him like a brother, but someone had to lose, and I’m so glad I was able to get over the line.”
The quarter-final line-up will be completed on Saturday night, as three-time champion Michael van Gerwen takes on Luke Humphries, while World Grand Prix runner-up Nathan Aspinall faces debutant Alan Soutar.
Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts
Friday November 18 (1900 GMT)
Michael Smith 16-15 Joe Cullen
Raymond van Barneveld 16-13 Gerwyn Price
Best of 31 legs
Saturday November 19 (1900 GMT)
Nathan Aspinall v Alan Soutar
Michael van Gerwen v Luke Humphries
Best of 31 legs
Images: Taylor Lanning/PDC