Saturday at the Grand Slam of Darts
All 32 players in action on opening day with defending champion Michael van Gerwen the headline attraction
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 11/11/17 5:59pm
The Grand Slam of Darts kicks off live on Sky Sports at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Saturday, as players from both the PDC and BDO collide in the unique cross-code event.
With two sessions of play there is plenty for everyone, starting with an afternoon session at 1pm and an evening session that gets underway at 8pm.
Michael van Gerwen is bidding for a third successive Grand Slam triumph this week and he heads to Wolverhampton in blistering form, having retained his European Championship and World Series of Darts Finals titles over the past fortnight.
However, six-time Grand Slam champion Phil Taylor will be hoping for a fairy-tale farewell in Wolverhampton ahead of his impending retirement.
Raymond van Barneveld is the only other player in this year's field to have tasted Grand Slam success. The five-time world champion defeated his fellow countryman Van Gerwen to triumph in 2012 and is in line to meet 'Mighty Mike' in the knockout phases if both men progress from their groups.
World No 2 Peter Wright headlines Saturday's afternoon session, as he takes on BDO world champion Glen Durrant in the tie of the opening day in Group E.
Snakebite has enjoyed a stunning year so far; winning his maiden televised title at March's UK Open and lifting a total of 11 PDC titles across 2017.
Durrant impressed on his Grand Slam debut last year. He thrashed Alan Norris and Nathan Derry in the group stages after pushing Gary Anderson all the way, before losing 10-7 against Van Barneveld in the last 16.
Wright and Durrant are in the toughest group on paper, as the other Group E tie sees Norris take on reigning World-Youth champion Corey Cadby.
Snakebite admitted: "To have such a tough group will prepare all of us for the rest of the tournament and there will be three great matches where I know I'll be pushed all the way.
"He [Durrant] did really well to win Lakeside but I'm going to have to be on top of my game to take care of him. I've been a bit rusty recently but I've been practising well this week."
It's a fantastic group. To have such a tough group will prepare all of us for the rest of the tournament and there will be three great matches where I know I'll be pushed all the way.
Two-time world champion Gary Anderson kicks off his campaign against his fellow Scot Cameron Menzies in Group H.
'The Flying Scotsman' lost 16-14 to James Wade in a thrilling semi-final clash twelve months ago, while BDO star Menzies is making his Grand Slam debut - having qualified by winning this year's Scottish Open.
World Youth finalist Berry van Peer is another debutant in Group H and he faces a difficult assignment against a resurgent Simon Whitlock- who reached the final of last month's World Grand Prix.
Group F is headlined by 2014 finalist and seventh seed Dave Chisnall, who begins his assault against 2015 Lakeside champion Scott Mitchell.
Getting to know the BDO
Here's a look at the eight players representing the BDO at this year's Grand Slam.
Chisnall is joined in Group F by his fellow St Helen's star Stephen Bunting, who plays Dutch debutant Jeffrey de Zwaan, who defeated Jonny Clayton, Ian White and Robert Thornton to come through qualifying.
Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic locks horns with BDO No 1 Mark McGeeney in his Group G opener, while 2015 semi-finalist Michael Smith kicks off the tournament against former BDO No 1 James Wilson.
Van Gerwen enters the fray on Saturday evening for a stacked schedule that should provide plenty of tungsten tension and the world No 1 heads up Group A and will play BDO veteran Ross Montgomery in his opening tussle.
"I'm feeling great after the last couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to the Grand Slam," said Van Gerwen.
"I've won it for the last two years and it would be great to make it three, but I can't look too far ahead. I know I'm playing well but I have to make sure I prepare for every match because the group games are short and you need to make a fast start."
Mardle's Grand Slam predictions
Sky Sports expert Wayne Mardle looks into his crystal ball ahead of the Grand Slam of Darts.
Rob Cross has enjoyed a sensational debut year on the PDC circuit, winning four Players Championship titles and reaching the European Championship final, where he lost to MvG - the former electrician marks his Grand Slam debut against another debutant Joe Murnan.
Taylor begins his final appearance at the tournament against BDO World Trophy winner Peter Machin.
"I've had some great memories in Wolverhampton and I can't wait to get back there," the 57-year-old admitted.
"It's a great tournament and the venue is fantastic - it creates a superb atmosphere and the fans are brilliant. I'm excited because I've not got many tournaments left, so I'll be giving it my best shot.
Elsewhere in Taylor's group, last year's finalist James Wade plays Robbie Green - who is making his third appearance at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Van Barneveld and Jamie Hughes are joined in Group B by UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price, who kicks off the evening session against Irish qualifier Steve Lennon while Barney takes on local hero Hughes in what could be the clash of the opening day.
Tipton ace Hughes reached the last 16 on his Grand Slam debut 12 months ago, but faces a tough opener against 2012 champion Van Barneveld.
World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney will make his Grand Slam bow against Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert, who impressed on his debut last year, whilst Mark Webster and Darren Webster will meet in a battle of the namesakes.
The Grand Slam of Darts gets underway live on Sky Sports on Saturday November 11 with a double session as the best of the PDC compete against the best of the BDO.
Keep up to date with the news as the tungsten enters its busiest time of year with the PDC World Championships just around the corner get all the latest at www.skysports.com/darts and join in the conversation @SkySportsDarts.