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Five talking points from the Grand Slam of Darts, as world No 1 Gerwyn Price reigns in Wolverhampton

Price secures his third Grand Slam title in four years with a 16-8 victory over Peter Wright to land the £125,000 top prize; Fallon Sherrock also generates huge headlines with her run to the quarter-finals

Gerwyn Price (Image: PDC)

Following a fascinating nine days of action at the Grand Slam of Darts, the sight of Gerwyn Price lifting the Eric Bristow Trophy aloft was a familiar one.

The world No 1 has claimed Grand Slam glory on all three occasions since the tournament was staged at the Aldersley Leisure Village, and he maintained his remarkable record with a resounding 16-8 win over Peter Wright in Sunday's showpiece.

It was fitting the top two players in world darts went head-to-head for the title, but it was a tournament that offered no shortage of storylines.

The return of Raymond van Barneveld, the emergence of the sport's young guns, Michael van Gerwen shattering records but still not winning, and of course, the fairytale run enjoyed by Fallon Sherrock.

This year's Grand Slam truly delivered, and with the World Championship rapidly approaching, we pick out the main talking points to emerge from a wonderful week in Wolverhampton…

Fallon causes a stir…again

Image: Sherrock defeated Mike De Decker. Gabriel Clemens and Mensur Suljovic in her run to the quarter-finals

When does the out of the ordinary start becoming the ordinary? It's difficult to write anything on Sherrock without referencing her history-making achievements at the World Championship two years ago.

Her Premier League draw with Glen Durrant, her run to the Nordic Darts Masters final, her dominance of the Women's Series alongside Lisa Ashton, and now the highest ever average by a woman on TV - the first woman to reach the knockout stage of the Grand Slam.

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In winning three games and pushing Wright all the way in a thrilling quarter-final, Sherrock added another chapter to her story but perhaps the most notable of all her achievements this week has been the fact that all of her matches have been just that - quality contests.

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Sherrock caused more shockwaves with this sensational 170 finish to beat Gabriel Clemens and create more darting history

"I want them to play Fallon the player, not Fallon the woman," she said post-match after recording another big stage win over Mensur Suljovic.

The remarkable 27-year-old will continue to make headlines - and her return to Alexandra Palace next month will ensure that - but she deserves, and has earned, the right to be judged as a darts player more than a match for anyone in the game.

Paul Prenderville

The cream always rises

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Gerwyn Price thrashed Peter Wright 16-8 to triumph at the Grand Slam of Darts.

Three of the world's top four - Price, Wright and James Wade - and Michael Smith, the best player not to win a major who has been amongst the most consistent on the Pro Tour this year, was a high-class semi-final line-up.

After a thrilling eight days of action in Wolverhampton the final four took to the oche on Sunday, and while Van Gerwen (on reputation) and Jonny Clayton (on form) could lay viable claims, the four best players of the week assembled.

Peter Wright (Image: PDC)
Image: Wright also enjoyed a welcome return to form, having endured an alarming slump since winning the World Matchplay

It's no surprise at this time of year that the very best in the game start producing their best. The World Grand Prix, the European Championship and the World Series Finals have already taken place and after this week it's the Players Championship Finals and then the Worlds.

In short, the biggest prizes in the game are up for grabs and the best players in the game want them.

Step forward 'The Iceman'. The world No 1 completed a hat-trick of Grand Slam titles in Sunday's showpiece, and the reigning world champion is now assured of beginning his title defence at Alexandra Palace as the top seed.

Paul Prenderville

Major drought continues for mercurial MVG

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Van Gerwen created Grand Slam history in his stunning 5-2 win over Joe Cullen in the group stages.

Van Gerwen's wait for a televised ranking title continues. The Dutchman is enduring his longest major drought since 2012, with his last big-stage success coming at the Players Championship Finals 12 months ago.

The Dutchman was imperious for large periods- following up a merciless display against Ashton by firing in a 115.19 average against Joe Cullen - the highest in Grand Slam history.

'Mighty Mike' then came out on top in a magnificent last-16 clash against Gary Anderson, who also found some form in Wolverhampton, and it looked like it would take something very special to deny Van Gerwen a fourth Grand Slam crown.

Michael van Gerwen during day two of the Ladbrokes Masters 2021 tournament at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes. Picture date: Saturday January 30, 2021.
Image: Van Gerwen is still without a televised ranking title in 2021

However, his quarter-final display against Smith featured the maddening inconsistency that has contributed to his recent drought. MVG converted stunning 148, 164 and 170 combination finishes, but at crucial stages lacked composure on the outer ring.

Since September, no player boasts a higher running average than the world No 3, but as a perennial winner, he knows he must convert performances into tangible success, particularly with the World Championship round the corner.

Josh Gorton

Mature Bully Boy making strides

Smith's 16-13 win over Van Gerwen was his first against the Dutchman in a major PDC ranking event
Image: Smith's 16-13 win over Van Gerwen was his first against the Dutchman in a major PDC ranking event

Smith will be hurting right now. The St Helens star was on the cusp of the Grand Slam final after establishing a 12-8 cushion against Wright, only for 'Snakebite' to produce a sensational eight-leg blitz to storm through to Sunday's showpiece.

Smith is desperate to break his major duck. The five-time major finalist is one of the most prodigious talents the sport has ever produced, but after missing darts to win tournaments on two separate occasions, his mentality has been questioned.

It would be easy to label his latest setback as a capitulation, but barring a handful of missed doubles in leg 26, Smith did very little wrong. At times in sport you just have to take your medicine, and this was one of those occasions.

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Michael Smith reflected on the improvements he's made to the mental side of his game following his win over Van Gerwen

Smith can take great encouragement from his exploits in Wolverhampton. He topped Group H with wins over Van Barneveld and Anderson, swept aside Cullen in the last 16 and registered a first win over Van Gerwen in a televised ranking event.

Bully Boy's attitude was exemplary. There was no head-shaking, no negative body language, and he kept his emotions in check throughout. He referenced the work he's been doing on the mental side of the game, and it's starting to pay dividends. His time is coming…

Josh Gorton

Has the Grand Slam found its purpose?

Image: World Youth champion Brooks almost caused a seismic shock against eventual champion Price

For many years - 14 in fact - the Grand Slam brought darts' two governing bodies together; pitching the cream of the BDO against the best of the PDC. However, that has been dwindling for some time.

In fact, in 2020 just the BDO men's and women's world champions represented the organisation, forcing the PDC to think differently - and it's paid off in buckets.

The Challenge and Development Tours from Europe and the UK have joined the Women's Series and World Youth Championship finalists in offering a fresh look to the event and crucially giving some new faces exposure to the big stage.

Image: Northern Ireland's Nathan Rafferty also starred on his Grand Slam bow

Rowby-John Rodriguez and Nathan Rafferty impressed in reaching the knockout stages, world youth champion Brooks came close to shocking Price, and Sherrock did more Sherrock things in reaching the quarter-finals.

Rather than wonder how the amateur game might be represented, the PDC have turned to their own next generation, and the only question now is whether that tier of qualifiers should be raised from eight to 12 or even 16.

Paul Prenderville

It's not long to wait until the darts returns to your screens and it's the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace - join us on Sky Sports for every arrow from every session across 16 days, which gets underway on Wednesday December 15.

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