Rob Cross and Stephen Bunting completed the semi-final line-up at the Grand Slam of Darts with convincing wins against Damon Heta and Stowe Buntz on Saturday evening.
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The penultimate day of the £650,000 event saw the remaining quarter-final ties take place at WV Active Aldersley, after James Wade and Luke Humphries came through epic last eight ties on Friday.
Rob Cross reeled off ten consecutive legs to dispatch an out-of-sorts Damon Heta 16-6 and progress to the last four, while Bunting ended Buntz’s Wolverhampton fairy-tale with a 16-8 success.
There will be a new name on the Eric Bristow Trophy in 2023, and Cross continued his bid for a fifth premier televised title with a comprehensive victory over the Australian number one.
“Unfortunately Damon didn’t play how he could,” admitted Cross, who averaged 98 and pinned 46% of his attempts at double to cap off another classy performance.
“I was averaging 97 at one stage and I didn’t even feel like I had turned up yet. In my head it was horrific! I couldn’t find that first dart.
“I wasn’t happy with my performance at the start, but I’ll take the win, wake up tomorrow and it’s a different day.
“Having the semi-finals and final in one day is going to be tough. I’ve never experienced it before so I can’t say I’ve had that luxury, but I feel in a really good place with my game.”
Heta’s combination finishing was a feature of his last 16 victory against Michael van Gerwen on Thursday, and he continued from where he left off in the early exchanges against Cross.
The former World Cup winner landed 120, 64 and 72 checkouts as the opening six legs were shared, although Cross seized the initiative at the second interval, producing a timely 12-darter to establish a 6-4 buffer.
Heta hit back to restore parity, but Cross punished a mid-game slump from the Australian to seize control, following a run of three straight legs with 116 and 89 checkouts to stretch his lead to 11-6.
Cross continued his relentless march towards victory as Heta’s game unravelled, and the Englishman extended his winning run to ten legs to ease through to his first Grand Slam semi-final.
The 2018 World Champion will now take on Bunting for a place in Sunday evening’s decider, after the Merseyside man produced a superb display of doubling to end Buntz’s remarkable campaign.
The American debutant won the pair’s Group E tussle last weekend, but Bunting avenged that result in some style, converting 62% of his attempts at double to break new ground in Wolverhampton.
“It means the world,” reflected the 38-year-old, who averaged 96 and crashed in six maximums to win through to his first premier televised semi-final since October 2021.
“There were some nerves tonight. I was a heavy favourite going into that game, and I still didn’t know what to expect from Stowe.
“I said to him at the end of the match, he’s a friend now. We’ve had two games on the stage, and I wish him all the best for the World Championship and the rest of his career.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of effort behind the scenes, but I couldn’t do it without the crowd cheering me on. I really appreciate the support and I cannot wait for the semi-finals now. "
Buntz missed darts at double for 147, 106 and 146 combinations in the early exchanges, and Bunting – aided by back-to-back 13-darters – capitalised to race into an early 4-1 lead.
CDC Continental Cup champion Buntz responded to level at six apiece, but Bunting suddenly found his range midway through the contest, winning seven of the next eight legs to seize control at 13-7.
Bunting’s 12-dart break of throw in leg 14 provided the spark, and he converted clinical 93, 101, 126 and 97 finishes during a blistering spell to move to the cusp of a place in the semi-finals.
The former Lakeside champion fired in another 12-darter on the bull to extend his lead to 14-7, and he continued the procession to end Buntz’s record-breaking run.
Sunday afternoon’s opening semi-final will see Humphries and Wade collide, before Bunting takes on Cross for a place in the evening’s showpiece, with a £150,000 top prize on offer to the eventual champion.
James Wade defeated Josh Rock 16-15 in dramatic fashion, while Luke Humphries beat Gary Anderson 16-14 on an unforgettable night of action in Wolverhampton which saw 61 of a possible 62 legs played.
The Machine produced a stunning fightback to defeat Rock, winning the last four legs to battle back from 12-15 down. Rock missed his first match dart at double top to win 16-14, as Wade dug deep to take the contest the distance.
A nerve-wracking deciding leg saw Wade miss double 14 for a 121 checkout, which gave Rock the chance to win it on tops. However, the Northern Irishman went high with all three darts, allowing Wade a look at 28.
The drama continued in the deciding leg too as Wade slipped into the double 11 bed to leave six and after seemingly blocking double three with his second match dart, he found a way through to the target to seal a memorable win.
"To hit the doubles like I did at the end, there's not many players who can do that," said a jubilant Wade, who has reached the final three times in Wolverhampton. "I got a bit lucky, Josh was way better than me tonight. I'm still not at my best but I'll always keep fighting.
"I don't think there's anyone better than me in those high-pressure situations, but I have to be good in those moments because other players score better than me.
"When I got the chance at double 14 I thought Christmas had come early, then I hit double 11 and thought 'you silly boy!' Thankfully I hit probably the best double three of my life.
"I enjoyed the interaction with the crowd tonight, they were brilliant to me and I'm looking forward to coming back on Sunday."
Wade was quickest out the traps, racing into a 3-0 lead, before Rock warmed to his task and levelled at 4-4.
The Northern Irishman, who averaged 101.31 and produced three ton-plus checkouts in his first televised quarter-final, took the lead for the first time at 11-10.
The World Youth Champion took four of the next six legs to lead 15-12 to seemingly take control of the tie, only for Wade to show his trademark resilience in winning the final four legs.
Meanwhile, an astonishing display from Humphries saw him average 103.56 to come out on top of a high-class encounter with Anderson.
Humphries, who lifted TV silverware for the first time at October's World Grand Prix, came back from 1-5 and 4-8 down to reach the semi-finals for a second successive year.
"It was a pleasure to share the stage with one of the greats of the game at his best," Humphries reflected. "It really meant a lot to me, we both played a fantastic game which was a privilege to be part of.
"I think I showed a lot of bottle at the end, Gary threw everything at me but I just kept digging in which is testament to the new temperament I've got. This has been a breakthrough year for me, it's been the year I've always dreamed of, but I'm hungry for more."
Despite a 170 checkout from Humphries in leg four, Anderson raced into a 5-1 lead as the two-time Grand Slam runner-up took control.
Back-to-back legs saw Humphries take a foothold in the contest, only for Anderson to respond with finishes of 150 and 128 to restore a four-leg cushion at 8-4.
Humphries took the next four legs, before taking the lead for the first time at 10-9. A 132 checkout from Anderson saw him move back within a leg of Humphries at 11-12, and a 131 from the Scot saw him level the tie once again at 13-13.
The Flying Scotsman then regained the lead at 14-13, before Humphries reeled off the last three legs to book his place in the final four.
Saturday's action at WV Active Aldersley will see the final two quarter-final ties take place, as Michael van Gerwen's conqueror Damon Heta takes on three-time quarter-finalist Rob Cross.
Meanwhile, the evening’s opener sees America's Stowe Buntz looking to continue his fairytale Grand Slam debut against the in-form Stephen Bunting.
Three-time champion Gerwyn Price was sent packing by a resurgent Gary Anderson on Wednesday, and Michael van Gerwen became the latest big name to crash out on a dramatic night of last 16 action in Wolverhampton.
Van Gerwen – who lifted a hat-trick of Grand Slam titles between 2015 and 2017 – led 4-2 at one stage, but a nerveless Heta recovered from a sluggish start to inflict the Dutchman’s earliest exit at this event in a decade.
The Australian number one turned the contest on its head with consecutive 76, 112 and 92 finishes to move into the lead, and he extended his winning run to five straight legs to establish a 7-4 buffer.
Van Gerwen displayed glimpses of his brilliant best with some exquisite cover shooting in the closing stages, but Heta kept his cool to complete a 10-7 success, sealed with a classy 80 combination on tops.
“I’m absolutely stoked with the win,” declared Heta, who has now broken into the world’s top ten for the first time in his career. “I had so many trebleless visits, but my checkout percentage was great, and that is what wins you games!
“Obviously Michael didn’t turn up tonight, but things just happened for me in that second session and I was riding the wave.”
Heta’s reward for defeating Van Gerwen is a quarter-final showdown against Rob Cross, who averaged 103.97 to edge out World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall 10-8 in a Grand Slam classic.
Aspinall – a runner-up in Wolverhampton last year – also averaged 103, fired in six 180s and converted 62% of his attempts at double, but it wasn’t enough to deny a merciless Cross.
The 2018 World Champion stormed into a 4-1 lead at the first interval, capping off a dominant opening session with a 116 checkout, and the high-quality continued as Aspinall reduced the deficit to 4-6.
The Stockport star refused to relent, producing brilliant 12, 10 and 13 dart legs to cut the gap to 8-9, but he was unable to force a decider, as Cross pinned his favourite double 18 to prevail with a 14-darter.
“Huge credit to Nathan. He was so resilient, but I was the better player tonight and I got it done,” claimed Cross, who landed seven 180s and pinned 50% of his attempts at double.
“I feel great. I have had my ups and downs like every professional, but now I’m ready to compete and perform, and I want it more than ever.
“I want to win everything. If I get myself right mentally, I believe I can do great things, but I will take one game at a time, because Damon is a great player.
Earlier in the night, Stephen Bunting overcame world number seven Danny Noppert in a contest dominated by missed doubles to move through to the Grand Slam quarter-finals for the first time since 2014.
Bunting fired in three 180s in as many legs to race into an early 4-1 lead, before Noppert hit back with a stunning 136 checkout in leg six, after Bunting had opened the leg with seven perfect darts.
Despite that moment of magic, Noppert spurned 23 darts at double in a disastrous display on the outer ring, as Bunting followed up a 13-darter with a brilliant 121 on the bull to complete a 10-4 victory.
“Danny really struggled and I think I got caught up in his game to be honest,” reflected the former Lakeside Champion, who will renew his rivarly with Stowe Buntz in the last eight.
“I’m delighted with the result, but not with the performance. In the practice room I was hitting everything, and I felt really confident tonight, but it just didn’t happen.
“Stowe is a fantastic player. When I played him the first time I didn’t really know what to expect, but now I know how good he can be, and I can promise you that I won’t play like this again.”
Buntz continued his fairy-tale run by punishing a profligate display from UK Open champion Andrew Gilding to become the first American player to progress to the Grand Slam quarter-finals.
The debutant won the opening five legs of the contest and retained that buffer throughout, defying seven maximums from Gilding, who paid the price for squandering 21 of his 26 darts at double.
“I had no expectations this week. I just wanted to give it my all and savour every moment,” reflected Buntz, who won last month’s CDC Continental Cup to seal his Grand Slam qualification.
“Andrew gave me opportunities the whole match. I can only play the opponent in front of me, and if they give me opportunities, then it’s up to me to capitalise.”
Friday’s action at WV Active Aldersley will see the opening two quarter-final ties take place, as World Grand Prix champion Luke Humphries plays two-time Grand Slam runner-up Gary Anderson.
Meanwhile, the evening’s opener pits three-time finalist James Wade against 2022 World Youth Champion Josh Rock, who is appearing in his first premier televised quarter-final.
'The Flying Scotsman' produced a vintage display to defeat the 3/1 favourite Gerwyn Price in a thrilling second round clash at the Grand Slam of Darts on Wednesday.
Anderson, into to lift his first major televised title in five years, defied eight 180s and a 103 average from Price to continue his bid for an elusive Grand Slam crown on a high-quality night of action in Wolverhampton.
Day Five of the £650,000 event saw the knockout stages begin on a bumper night of action at WV Active Aldersley, and it was Anderson who stole the headlines in a repeat of the pair’s infamous 2018 final.
Price - who registered consecutive 110 and 112 averages in the round-robin phase - drew first blood with a 14-dart hold, only for Anderson to seize the early initiative with a run of three straight legs.
The Welshman responded to restore parity at three apiece, only for Anderson to win four of the next five legs to regain control - sparked by a superb 12-dart break in leg seven.
The Scot maintained his charge by crashing in consecutive maximums to stretch his lead to 8-4, although Price refused to relent, registering back-to-back 13-darters to put himself back in contention.
Nevertheless, Anderson halted Price’s charge with a brilliant 11-darter in the penultimate leg, which he followed with a comfortable hold of throw via double six to cap off a virtuoso display.
“There’s life in the old dog yet,” joked Anderson, who averaged 104.96 to set up a mouth-watering quarter-final showdown against Luke Humphries. “Gerwyn has been playing very well. Hitting 110 and 112 averages is a hard job to do, but I’ve hit a 102 and now a 104, so we’re getting there.
“I’m playing well on the practice board, I’m playing well on the floor, and that was the most comfortable I’ve felt on the stage for a while.”
New favourite Humphries sealed his place in the last eight with a superb 10-7 victory against Ryan Searle, defying three ton-plus checkouts from the Somerset star to triumph with a 105 average and nine 180s.
Searle, who landed a sensational nine-darter to seal his last 16 berth on Monday, remarkably led 3-2 at the first interval, despite averaging 15 points less than Humphries in the opening session.
However, the World Grand Prix champion won six of the next seven legs to assume control at 8-4, with a magnificent ten-darter in leg 12 typifying his relentless scoring power.
Searle - featuring in the knockout stages at the Grand Slam for the first time - prolonged the contest with 115, 112 and 94 combinations in the closing stages, but Humphries kept his cool to prevail.
“That was a really tough game to play,” reflected the world number four, who is eyeing his second televised ranking title in as many months. “I felt really good there. I probably could have been 8-2 up but I wasn’t, and that’s just testament to how good Ryan is, because he pushes you.
“Ryan is one of the elite players in my opinion. I know what he is capable of, so when he started coming back at me there, I started to get a little worried!”
Earlier in the night, three-time runner-up James Wade continued his resurgence after fending off a late rally from Masters champion Chris Dobey to move through to his sixth Grand Slam quarter-final.
“We want to win a little bit too much at times, and that’s what happened tonight,” admitted 12/1 hope Wade, who will regain his place in the world’s top ten with glory in Wolverhampton.
“I let so many opportunities go and I didn’t get it wrapped up, but luckily Chris missed some big shots, because if he forced a decider, I dare say he probably would have won.”
In the evening’s opener, Josh Rock produced an impressive display to see off Krzysztof Ratajski and move through to his first premier televised ranking quarter-final, and shorten his hopes of capturing a first ranking title to .
“I think my celebration said it all,” reflected the 2022 World Youth Champion, who will face Wade for a place in Sunday’s semi-finals. “I knew I hadn’t got through to a quarter-final on the major stage before, but I managed to control the nerves and get the win, so I’m happy.
“This is a big moment. I wasn’t at my best in the group stage, so I knew I had to pick my game up against Krzysztof and I did that.”
The second round action will conclude on Thursday, as three-time champion and second favourite Michael van Gerwen takes on Australian number one Damon Heta for a place in the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall faces 2018 World Champion Rob Cross, world number seven Danny Noppert plays a resurgent Stephen Bunting, while UK Open champion Andrew Gilding meets American newcomer Stowe Buntz.
Day Four of the £650,000 event saw Groups E-H conclude on Tuesday evening, as Greaves came within touching distance of creating Grand Slam history at WV Active Aldersley.
The Women’s World Matchplay champion was bidding to become the first woman to finish top of her group at the Grand Slam, and she produced another terrific display in a captivating Group H encounter againsttournament hope Heta.
Greaves showed no sign of early nerves, opening her account with a 101 finish, before wiring a dart at the bull for a spectacular 170 checkout in leg three.
The 19-year-old returned to complete a 14-dart hold before extending her cushion with a clinical 99 kill, but Heta hit back superbly, landing 164 and 130 outshots in successive legs to level at three apiece.
Greaves regained her poise to regain the lead at 4-3, although she squandered a match dart at double 16 in the penultimate leg, and Heta capitalised to complete the turnaround with a 105 finish in the decider.
“Fair play to Beau! I hope she doesn’t get a Tour Card because we’re going to be in trouble,” joked Heta, who now faces three-time winner, and 7/2 second favourite, Michael van Gerwen in Thursday’s second round.
“Those big finishes were extremely crucial. Every other ton-plus checkout had to go. If I didn’t hit it, I was gone. Beau was insane tonight. We all know what she can do and I’m shaking like crazy after that, but to get over that line is massive for me.”
Elsewhere, 2021 quarter-finalist Fallon Sherrock was denied a place in the knockout stage for the second time in three years, after succumbing 5-2 to Rob Cross in their decisive Group G showdown.
Sherrock made the perfect start with a 15-dart break in the opening leg, only for Cross - 14/1 to win the title for the first time - to win five of the next six legs to move through to a tantalising last 16 tie against World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall.
“Fallon is a fantastic player,” insisted Cross, who has advanced to the knockout stage in all seven of his Grand Slam appearances. “I have been steady in the last few games. I threw the game against Michael [van Gerwen] away in my opinion, but tonight the doubles went in and that was the difference.
“I feel great at the moment. I have still got so much more to offer, but I’m sure that will come later on [in the tournament].”
Earlier in the night, Bunting (22/1) converted a trio of ton-plus checkouts to defeat Wright in their Group E shootout, which condemned the world number two to his third group stage exit in four years.
Bunting recovered from an edgy opening leg with an inspired four-leg spell, following up 103, 101 and 107 finishes with a 13-darter to move to the cusp of victory at 4-1.
Wright responded with a nerveless 116 skin-saver and a 14-darter to reduce the deficit to 3-4, although Bunting hit back with a third maximum, before pinning double 16 to triumph.
“When you’re playing on stage against a legend like Peter it’s always difficult,” conceded Bunting, who averaged 99.38 to advance to the last 16 for the fourth time in five appearances. “Everyone is questioning Peter’s form at the minute, but he’s one of the best players in the world, and every time I play him it’s always a huge battle.
“I held it together well and I’m so happy to be through to the next round. I’ve put a lot of hard work in behind the scenes, so this is a special moment.”
Bunting will take on 18/1 shot Danny Noppert for a place in the last eight, after the Dutchman edged out Brendan Dolan in a last-leg tie to clinch top spot in Group F with maximum points.
Noppert required four legs against Dolan to seal his place in the knockout stage, and after establishing a 4-2 cushion, he defied a late rally from the Northern Irishman to prevail with a 124 outshot on the bull.
UK Open champion Andrew Gilding also confirmed his qualification as the Group F runner-up, courtesy of an impressive 5-1 victory against PDC Asian Champion Haruki Muramatsu.
Muramatsu drew first blood with a 101 checkout, before Gilding (33/1) reeled off five straight legs without reply - including a 136 finish in the penultimate leg - to prevail with a 99 average.
Gilding’s next assignment pits him against American newcomer, and 50/1 outsider, Stowe Buntz, who secured top spot in Group E despite his deciding-leg defeat to 2014 runner-up Dave Chisnall, who rounded off his campaign on a high.
Van Gerwen recovered from 4-2 down to defeat his eliminated compatriot Martijn Kleermaker in a scrappy Group G encounter, maintaining his 100% record in this year’s event in the process.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Ricardo Pietreczko punished a below-par display from Aspinall to win through a nine-leg affair, although Heta’s win over Greaves ensured Aspinall retained top spot in Group H.
The 2023 Grand Slam of Darts knockout stage will get underway on Wednesday, as three-time champion Gerwyn Price (4/7) takes on two-time runner-up Gary Anderson (11/8) in a repeat of their memorable 2018 final.
World Grand Prix champion Luke Humphries (2/5) will play nine-dart hero Ryan Searle (2/1), while three-time finalist James Wade (11/10) faces Masters champion Chris Dobey (8/11).
Elsewhere, 2022 World Youth Champion Josh Rock () opens the evening’s proceedings against Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski (11/8), with both players eyeing a place in a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.
Ryan Searle raised the roof at WV Active Aldersley with a moment of magic in his decisive Group D tussle against Nathan Rafferty, while world number one Smith was sent packing by James Wade in their Group A decider.
However, Searle’s heroics stole the headlines on Day Three in Wolverhampton, as he produced the sixth nine-darter in Grand Slam history to book his place in the knockout stage for the first time.
33/1 tournament outsider Searle, who recovered from 4-0 down to win his opening round-robin tie against Gian van Veen on Saturday, raced into a 3-0 lead against Rafferty, only for the Northern Irishman to respond with back-to-back legs.
The Somerset star then restored his two-leg buffer with a 13-darter in leg six, before fending off Rafferty’s rally to wrap up a memorable 5-3 victory with his first televised nine-darter.
“It’s a special feeling to hit a nine-darter to win a match,” said Searle, who will now take on World Grand Prix champion Luke Humphries in a fascinating last 16 showdown. “I think I’ve been pretty unlucky in previous Grand Slams where I’ve run into some awesome performances; last year I ran into two 107 averages!
“I’ve got my best friend Luke in the next round now. Luke has beaten me so many times on the big stage, so I do owe him one. Hopefully I’ll get him back on Wednesday!”
5/1 third-favourite Humphries clinched top spot in Group C with a resounding 5-1 victory over a struggling Dirk van Duijvenbode, recording his third ton-plus average of the group stage to continue his blistering form.
That also confirmed 16/1 shot Gary Anderson’s place in the last 16, after the Scot swept aside Steve Lennon to preserve his astonishing record in the round-robin phase.
Anderson, a two-time runner-up in Wolverhampton, averaged 102 and fired in four maximums to progress to the knockout stage at the Grand Slam for the 16th time in as many appearances.
Nevertheless, world number one Smith was sent packing on an action-packed evening, after succumbing 5-1 to three-time runner-up Wade in their crunch Group A showdown.
The Machine - 25/1 to go the full distance this week - punished a profligate display from the World Champion to secure top spot in Group A, which also ended Smith’s remarkable 18-match winning run in the group stage, in a record dating back to 2017.
“I’m James Wade and I do what I do,” reflected last month’s European Championship runner-up, who pinned five of his nine attempts at double to continue his resurgence. “I think I dealt with the pressure better than Michael did. I didn’t play particularly well, but I was a little bit better than somebody who was nowhere near their best tonight.
“Michael had a lot of misfortune, but I know how good I am, I know what I am capable of, and I believe I will be back in the top ten in two years’ time.”
Wade will now play Chris Dobey (12/1) for a place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, after the Masters champion won his all-important Group B tie against Jonny Clayton.
Dobey dominated the opening exchanges to storm into a 3-0 lead, although he was forced to withstand a late fightback from the Welshman to prevail 5-3 in a topsy-turvy affair.
"I knew it was going to be a tough battle, especially playing a good friend like Jonny," admitted Dobey, who made the quarter-finals on his Grand Slam debut in 2016. "I missed so many darts at double and Jonny punished me, but I'm just delighted to get through that one. The opening two games were a struggle, so I'm pleased to have put in a performance.
"I owe James [Wade] one after he thrashed me in my first appearance here, but I think the longer format suits me, and I'll be ready for that."
In the evening’s opener, Gerwyn Price - now into 10/3 to win the title - crashed in a mammoth 112.30 average and converted a trio of ton-plus checkouts to cap off a sensational Group D campaign with a 5-1 demolition of Gian van Veen.
Price, who was already assured of top spot ahead of Monday’s play, landed 107, 108 and 121 finishes to dismantle the Dutchman with the ninth-highest average in Grand Slam history.
The Welshman – who has won a hat-trick of titles in his four visits to the Aldersley venue – will now take on Anderson in a repeat of the pair’s unforgettable 2018 final.
Elsewhere, Josh Rock completed a clean sweep in Group B with a comprehensive 5-1 success against Berry van Peer, which sets up a last 16 encounter against Group A runner-up Krzysztof Ratajski.
Ratajski eased past former World Youth Championship runner-up Nathan Girvan by the same scoreline in his final Group A fixture, reeling off the last five legs without reply.
The Grand Slam of Darts group stage will conclude on Tuesday, as the final round-robin matches in Groups E-H take place at WV Active Aldersley.
Michael van Gerwen, Nathan Aspinall and American debutant Stowe Buntz have confirmed their qualification to the knockout stage, while world number two Peter Wright is the narrow 4/5 favourite to seal progression against Stephen Bunting (1/1) as the pair lock horns for a last 16 berth.
Elsewhere, Fallon Sherrock is 7/2 to prevail against Rob Cross to seal group stage progression, with fellow women's tour star Beau Greaves 11/5 to oust Damon Heta in their winner takes all showdown.
Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price were among the five players to secure a place in the knockout stages at the Grand Slam of Darts on Sunday, as Beau Greaves and Fallon Sherrock created history in Wolverhampton.
Greaves and Sherrock delighted a packed WV Active Aldersley venue, on a landmark day which saw two female stars prevail in the same PDC premier televised event for the first time.
125/1 tournament hope Greaves, who fired in five 180s during her deciding-leg defeat to Nathan Aspinall on Saturday, delivered another brutal display of scoring to sweep aside emerging German talent Ricardo Pietreczko in Group H.
The Women’s World Matchplay champion raced into an early 3-0 lead, before a pumped-up Pietreczko opened his account with a 118 combination in leg four.
However, the teenage sensation restored her three-leg buffer with a clinical 90 kill on the bullseye, before wrapping up a memorable victory with a brilliant 12-darter. Greaves will now play Australian number one Damon Heta on Tuesday in a straight shoot-out for qualification to the knockout phase of the Grand Slam.
“What a feeling; I can’t really explain it - I’m so happy,” said Greaves, who is the third woman to taste victory in the Grand Slam since the tournament's inception in 2007. “I’ve just been so relaxed and I’ve really enjoyed it, and that is when I play my best darts.
“I’m really looking forward to the game on Tuesday now. I’ve won a game at the Grand Slam, and nobody can take this away from me!”
150/1 hope Sherrock, a Grand Slam quarter-finalist in 2021, returned to winning ways in Wolverhampton with a deciding-leg success against Martijn Kleermaker in her second Group G encounter.
The 29-year-old was beaten by an impressive Van Gerwen on Saturday’s opening night, although she kept her qualification hopes alive with a battling victory against Kleermaker on Day Two.
“I was shaking near the end, but I got across the line,” reflected Sherrock, who will play 2018 World Champion Rob Cross for a place in the last 16 on Tuesday. “I think when you put me in these pressure situations that is when my best darts come out, so hopefully I can produce something special in my next game.
“Michael [van Gerwen] produced his A-game against me and I felt like I dealt with that pretty well, and I expect Rob will do the same, but hopefully I can grind out a win!”
Three-time Grand Slam champions Price (10/3) and Van Gerwen (4/1) were among the stars to confirm their place in round two on Sunday, with World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall also sealing his progress to the last 16.
Price continued his Grand Slam love-affair with a sensational whitewash win against Ryan Searle, demolishing the Somerset star in less than eight minutes to clinch top spot in Group D.
“I felt good up there. I knew I was through with a win, which gave me that extra edge,” revealed Price, who averaged 110.51 and recorded winning legs of 16, 11, 12, 14 and 15 darts. “I was in the zone. I was putting Ryan under a lot of pressure which was a good feeling, but I didn’t realise how well I was playing.
“I think that sends out a statement. The format gets longer in the knockout stage, but that’s when I get better and better.”
Van Gerwen sealed his qualification from Group G in dramatic style, rallying from 3-1 down to win a last-leg shoot-out against Cross, who landed 136 and 108 finishes before missing three match darts in the decider.
Aspinall - 14/1 to go the distance after reaching last year's final - was the first player to claim a place in the knockout stage, converting 151 and 122 finishes to seal a 5-2 success against Heta in Group H, which ended Pietreczko’s qualification hopes.
Former World Youth Champion Josh Rock then confirmed his place in the last 16 with an emphatic 5-1 win against Jonny Clayton, having already claimed the scalp of Chris Dobey in his Group B opener.
Meanwhile, American debutant Stowe Buntz, now into 40/1 to lift the coveted title on Sunday, guaranteed his progress from Group E with a clinical 5-3 success against Stephen Bunting, who missed double 12 for a nine-darter midway through the match.
Reigning champion Michael Smith picked up a second Group A victory to put one foot into the second round, edging out Krzysztof Ratajski to extend his winning run in the Grand Slam group stage to 18 matches.
Ratajski averaged 101 and conjured up the first 170 checkout of the tournament, only for Smith - 12/1 to retain his crown - to convert a nerveless 106 outshot in the final leg to retain top spot in Group A.
The world number one will now take on James Wade in a crunch showdown on Monday, after the three-time finalist won five straight legs to defeat Nathan Girvan 5-2 and keep his qualification hopes alive.
Dobey and Clayton will now lock horns in a decisive clash on Monday, after the reigning Masters champion denied Berry van Peer in a gruelling nine-leg affair, despite the Dutchman landing a brace of ton-plus finishes.
World Grand Prix champion Luke Humphries - the 11/2 third-favourite - is in pole position in Group C, averaging almost 101 to wrap up an emphatic 5-1 win against two-time finalist Gary Anderson in Sunday evening’s finale.
Humphries’ final round-robin fixture pits him against Dirk van Duijvenbode, who battled through the pain barrier to see off Steve Lennon with the aid of 139 and 136 finishes.
Elsewhere, Nathan Rafferty will play Ryan Searle for a place in the second round, after averaging 103 to complete a 5-2 success against Gian van Veen, who is now unable to progress to the knockout stage regardless of his result in Monday's tie against Price.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, world number two Peter Wright will face Bunting in a straight Group E shoot-out, after winning through a topsy-turvy tie against Dave Chisnall to eliminate the 2014 runner-up.
Danny Noppert currently tops Group F with two wins from two, defying a late fightback from UK Open champion Andrew Gilding to close out a hard-fought 5-3 victory.
The Dutchman will collide with Brendan Dolan on Tuesday, after the Northern Irishman reignited his campaign with a 5-2 win against PDC Asian Championship winner Haruki Muramatsu.
Groups A-D draw to a close on Monday evening, before players from Groups E-H continue their battle for qualification on Tuesday.
Stowe Buntz caused a huge upset on the opening day of the 2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts, producing a stunning display to dispatch world number two Peter Wright on his televised bow in Wolverhampton.
Buntz, who sealed his Grand Slam qualification with victory in last month’s CDC Continental Cup, turned on the style in a colourful clash against European Champion Wright to cap off a dream TV debut.
The unheralded American fired in a sensational tops-tops 137 finish and took out 116 to race into a three-leg lead, before wrapping up a landmark 5-1 victory with a 13-dart hold.
“I don’t know what to say,” admitted a shell-shocked Buntz, who averaged 102.28 to defeat his darting idol. “It is phenomenal - Peter Wright's a two-time World Champion. He is a big inspiration for me, hence the [colourful] attire.
"To play against one of my idols, it’s like playing against Michael Jordan if you’re a basketball fan. I’m sure my phone is going to be blowing up after this!”
Day One of the £650,000 event saw a double session of action take place at WV Active Aldersley, as reigning champion Michael Smith kicked off the defence of his title with a 5-2 victory over Nathan Girvan in Group A.
Smith, who defeated Nathan Aspinall to lift the Eric Bristow Trophy last year, averaged almost 99 to topple Scottish debutant Girvan and celebrate a 17th consecutive group stage victory at the Grand Slam.
“I love this event - I owe a lot to the Grand Slam, and hopefully it keeps being kind to me,” said Smith, who is bidding to become the fourth player to retain the coveted title. “I’m really happy to be back. It’s the first time I’ve had to defend a TV title so there were a few butterflies, but I’m happy with how I performed.
“My scoring was great and my finishing was there when I needed it. I’m aware of my record [in the group stage], but I’m only focused on trying to top the group."
Three-time champions Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price also made winning starts in Wolverhampton, storming to 5-1 victories over Fallon Sherrock and Nathan Rafferty respectively.
Van Gerwen began his bid for a fourth Grand Slam crown with a 5-1 thumping of Sherrock in Group G, averaging 101.30 to sink the 2021 quarter-finalist, who registered three 180s in defeat.
Price was equally dominant in his six-leg blitz of Rafferty, running out an emphatic winner in an entertaining Group D contest which saw the pair trade 164 and 167 combination finishes.
The Welshman now faces Ryan Searle in his second round-robin tie on Sunday, after the Somerset star produced an astonishing fightback from 4-0 down to stun debutant Gian van Veen, surviving six missed match darts in the process.
Elsewhere, World Matchplay champion Aspinall defied five 180s and a brace of ton-plus checkouts from a brilliant Beau Greaves to triumph in a deciding-leg thriller in Group H.
Women’s World Matchplay champion Greaves converted 101 and 124 finishes to seize the early initiative, but following a run of eight consecutive holds, Aspinall sank a nerveless 98 finish to deny the debutant.
“I have to give credit to Beau - she was the player in pot four that nobody wanted,” claimed Aspinall, the runner-up to Smith last year. “Beau completely outscored me in that match. She was fantastic; she's a credit to the women’s game and a credit to darts as a whole."
Aspinall added: “I have shown again what I am capable of. I wasn’t anywhere near my best, but I dug deep and whatever was thrown at me, I managed to find a way to win.”
In the other Group H tie, Damon Heta defeated Ricardo Pietreczko in similar fashion, producing a 150 skin-saver in the penultimate leg, before surviving a match dart from the German newcomer in a dramatic decider.
Luke Humphries and Gary Anderson will collide in a blockbuster tussle on Sunday evening, after overcoming Steve Lennon and Dirk van Duijvenbode in their respective Group C tussles.
World Grand Prix champion Humphries posted the first ton-plus average of the tournament in his 5-2 demolition of Lennon, with a 147 checkout in leg five the highlight of his victory.
Anderson, meanwhile, overcame a struggling Van Duijvenbode in a contest dominated by missed doubles, rallying from 4-2 down to triumph with finishes of 84, 74 and 76 in the latter stages.
Earlier in the day, Jonny Clayton recovered from a sluggish start to see off the returning Berry van Peer in his Group B opener, reeling off five straight legs to complete a convincing 5-2 success.
The Welshman’s reward is a showdown against 2022 World Youth Champion Josh Rock, who defeated Masters champion Chris Dobey by the same scoreline, aided by 106 and 110 checkouts.
Danny Noppert and Andrew Gilding - the last two UK Open champions - will collide in Group F on Sunday, after kicking off their campaigns with hard-fought 5-3 wins against Haruki Muramatsu and Brendan Dolan respectively.
Noppert landed 86, 109 and 161 finishes to defeat PDC Asian Champion Muramatsu, while reigning UK Open champion Gilding fended off a late rally from Dolan to prevail on his Wolverhampton return.
Sunday’s double session will see Saturday's winning players facing off and the losing players also meeting each other, as Smith continues his title challenge against Poland’s number one Krzysztof Ratajski.
Ratajski edged out three-time runner-up James Wade in Saturday evening’s opener, beginning the match with 112 and 120 outshots before firing in a sublime 11-darter to prevail in a high-quality last leg.
Van Gerwen will face Rob Cross in his next Group G clash, after the 2018 World Champion recovered from 3-1 and 4-2 deficits to defeat Dutch debutant Martijn Kleermaker with a 96 average.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s headline act Buntz will play a resurgent Stephen Bunting, who denied Dave Chisnall in another nine-leg affair, pinning five of his seven double attempts to defy a 99 average from the 2014 runner-up.
The 2023 Grand Slam of Darts gets underway at Wolverhampton's WV Active Aldersley on Saturday afternoon, as 12/1 shot Michael Smith begins his defence of the prestigious Eric Bristow Trophy.
The 17th staging of the event will see a star-studded 32-player field battling it out for £650,000 in prize money across nine days of action from November 11-19, with defending champion Smith kicking off his title defence against 2022 World Youth Championship runner-up Nathan Girvan; one of seven debutants in this year's field.
The world number one will also face three-time finalist James Wade and Poland's number one Krzysztof Ratajski in Group A, as he bids to become only the fourth player to lift multiple Grand Slam titles.
“It would mean everything to retain my title this year,” admitted Smith, who has won 16 consecutive group stage matches at the Grand Slam, in a record dating back to 2017. “Over the last five or six years the Grand Slam has been very kind to me. I think I’ve gone unbeaten in the group in the last five years, but I’ve probably jinxed that now!
“Every year I seem to have a poor run between August and September, and then I seem to come back into my own at the start of November, and I feel like my form is coming back now. I’m really looking forward to getting back there. Hopefully I can deliver again this year and go back-to-back.”
World Champion Smith will be among the headline acts in Saturday's evening session, as players in Groups A, C, E and G kick off their respective campaigns.
Another stellar showdown will see three-time champion, and 9/2 second favourite, Michael van Gerwen take on 2021 quarter-finalist Fallon Sherrock, in a repeat of the Nordic Darts Masters decider two years ago.
Sherrock - 7/1 to stun MvG - received her MBE at Windsor Castle earlier this month, and now the Milton Keynes trailblazer is set to brush shoulders with darting royalty in her Group G opener.
“Every time I play Michael it’s always a good game, whether it’s an exhibition or in a big TV event," insisted Sherrock, who will also face 2018 World Champion Rob Cross and Martijn Kleermaker in the group stage.
“I want to play the best players in the world, because you’re only going to get better by playing the better players. The way I performed towards the end of the Women’s Series this year, and hitting the nine-darter on the Challenge Tour has given me a lot of confidence.
“I am going into these big stage events expecting to play well now, rather than hoping to play well. I am really excited!”
Group C also takes centre stage on Saturday evening, as World Grand Prix champion and 13/2 Grand Slam hope Luke Humphries plays Steve Lennon, while two-time finalist Gary Anderson meets Dutch star Dirk van Duijvenbode on his Wolverhampton return.
Newly crowned European Champion Peter Wright takes on American newcomer Stowe Buntz in his opener, with 2014 runner-up Dave Chisnall priced at 4/6 to upstage his best friend Stephen Bunting in the other Group E tie.
The afternoon session sees players in Groups B, D, F and H commence their challenge for the title, as three-time Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price - the 4/1 tournament favourite - sets his sights on a fourth Aldersley triumph.
The Welshman locks horns with Northern Ireland’s Nathan Rafferty in Group D, after Ryan Searle has faced Dutch debutant Gian van Veen, a European Championship semi-finalist in Dortmund last month.
Masters champion Chris Dobey will meet 2022 World Youth Champion Josh Rock in a fascinating Group B tie, as the Bedlington star looks to add to his title haul in the West Midlands.
“I’ve been playing well. My consistency is there, so I definitely feel I have a good run in me,” claimed Dobey, a quarter-finalist at the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and European Championship in 2023.
“No games are easy and it’s a very strong group, but I’m ready for the challenge, and there is no reason why I cannot go there and top the group. It’s going to be a tough ask, but I’m confident going into it, and I know where my game is at. I think they will be worrying about me more than I am worrying about them.”
Wales’ World Cup champion Jonny Clayton (20/1 to claim the title) will also feature in Group B, and the World Matchplay runner-up kicks off the round-robin phase against the returning Berry van Peer.
Elsewhere, World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall - also 20/1 - opens his Group H campaign against Women’s World Matchplay champion Beau Greaves in another highly-anticipated tie.
Aspinall - 17/2 to reach a second consecutive Grand Slam of Darts final - headlines a highly-competitive group, which also includes Australian number one Damon Heta and Germany’s rising star Ricardo Pietreczko.
World number seven Danny Noppert will play PDC Asian Champion Haruki Muratmatsu in his first Group F assignment, as UK Open champion Andrew Gilding and Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan also go head-to-head.
The group stage continues on Sunday, with Saturday's winning players facing off and the losing players also meeting each other, before the final round-robin games take place across Monday and Tuesday.
The top two players from each group will progress to the knockout stage, with the last 16 action beginning on Wednesday November 15 and running through to the semi-finals and final on Sunday November 19.