Michael van Gerwen out to defend Grand Slam of Darts title
The Grand Slam kicks off live on Sky Sports Arena from 1pm this Saturday
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 06/11/18 4:44pm
The Grand Slam of Darts kicks off in Wolverhampton this Saturday, as the best players from the PDC and BDO circuits come together in the unique cross-code event to compete for The Eric Bristow Trophy.
Only four men have ever lifted the title since the tournament's inception in 2007 and two of those - Phil Taylor and Scott Waites - will not be featuring in Wolverhampton this year.
Michael van Gerwen is bidding to claim a fourth successive Grand Slam crown and 'The Green Machine' heads into the tournament as top seed.
Raymond van Barneveld is the only other player in this year's field to have tasted Grand Slam success - having defeated Van Gerwen in a classic 2012 finale - and he will be bidding to secure a first major title since 2014.
The Big Guns
Michael van Gerwen is the favourite to clinch a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title next week, but the world No 1 has not enjoyed his usual dominance in major televised events this year.
The Dutchman retained his Premier League crown in May and regained his World Grand Prix title last month, but he suffered shock early exits at the UK Open, World Matchplay and European Championship.
Gary Anderson will be hoping to add the Grand Slam to his ever-growing haul. 'The Flying Scotsman' has already scooped the UK Open, World Matchplay and Champions League titles this year, but he has never gone beyond the semi-finals in Wolverhampton.
James Wade will be bidding to win a third consecutive televised major as his resurgence continues. 'The Machine' ended a four-year wait for a major at the European Championship in Dortmund, before going on to win the World Series Finals just seven days later.
Last year's finalist Peter Wright and world champion Rob Cross will be hoping to return to form after some disappointing recent showings, whilst Mensur Suljovic, Simon Whitlock and Michael Smith - all of whom have reached major finals in 2018 - make up the list of seeds.
Raymond van Barneveld, who won the event in 2012, makes his 12th straight Grand Slam appearance, but Daryl Gurney, Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall all missed out on qualification.
Reigning Lakeside champion Glen Durrant will head the list of eight BDO representatives at the Aldersley Leisure Village this year, with 'Duzza' making his third consecutive Grand Slam appearance.
Durrant reached the quarter-finals 12 months ago, losing to Peter Wright - who he defeated in the group stage.
Durrant will be joined by former Lakeside champion Scott Mitchell, who is making his fourth Grand Slam appearance, and Lakeside Championship runner-up Mark McGeeney, who made his bow in the 2017 tournament.
Dutchman Wesley Harms will make his Grand Slam return after a four-year hiatus, having reached the last eight on his debut back in 2012.
Newly-crowned World Masters champion Adam Smith-Neale will make his Wolverhampton debut alongside World Trophy runner-up Michael Unterbuchner, while former World Championship quarter-finalists Jim Williams and Gary Robson complete the BDO's line-up.
Whilst four of the eight BDO qualifiers are set to make their Grand Slam debuts, there are an additional six PDC stars preparing to make their Wolverhampton bows.
Krzysztof Ratajski is the highest-profile debutant having won three Pro Tour titles this year, despite not holding a PDC Tour Card.
'The Polish Eagle' won three of the 10 Pro Tour events he competed in throughout the year, but he only secured qualification by virtue of Corey Cadby's withdrawal.
Josh Payne is also making his first appearance in the cross-code event, having secured his place by virtue of reaching last year's World Youth Championship final, but 'The Maximum' has also lifted a Players Championship title this year.
The other four debutants prevailed in Monday night's qualifier, with Andrew Gilding, Steve Hine, Martin Schindler and Ryan Searle coming through a 93-man field at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan.
The 32 players are split into eight groups of four for the round-robin phase, with all games the best of nine legs, before the top two from each group progress to the knockout stages.
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Michael van Gerwen (1)||Michael Smith (8)||James Wade (5)||Gary Anderson (4)|
|Jonny Clayton||Raymond van Barneveld||Keegan Brown||Ian White|
|Joe Murnan||Krzysztof Ratajski||Mark Webster||Steve Hine|
|Gary Robson||Adam Smith-Neale||Wesley Harms||Michael Unterbuchner|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Peter Wright (2)||Simon Whitlock (7)||Mensur Suljovic (6)||Rob Cross (3)|
|Max Hopp||Gerwyn Price||Stephen Bunting||Dimitri van den Bergh|
|Josh Payne||Andrew Gilding||Martin Schindler||Ryan Searle|
|Jim Williams||Glen Durrant||Scott Mitchell||Mark McGeeney|
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.