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Grand Slam of Darts final preview: Barney set for Smith semi showdown

Raymond van Barnaveld faces another tough test at the Grand Slam of Darts with Michael Smith to overcome in the semi-finals.

Barney’s last-four clash with Bully Boy, who saw off Joe Cullen in a final leg decider, is one half of a fantastic finals day that also features a mouthwatering contest between Nathan Aspinall and Luke Humphries. 

Cool Hand Luke booked his place in the Wolverhampton semi-finals with an impressive and comfortable 16-10 victory over Michael van Gerwen and that set up a fantastic tussle against Aspinall. 

The Asp was defeated Alan Soutar in the last-eight and one of Aspinall, Smith, Van Barneveld or Humphries will be crowned Grand Slam champion in Wolverhampton this evening. 

What: Grand Slam of Darts

Where: Aldersley Leisure Village, Wolverhampton

When: 13:00pm, Sunday 20th November 2022

How to watch: Sky Sports Arena

Odds: Michael Smith 6/4, Luke Humphries 15/8, Nathan Aspinall 4/1, Raymond Van Barneveld 5/1

Barney back in the big time

Roll the clock back 12 months and very few observers would have expected Van Barneveld to be in the last-four of a major televised event. 

Barney only came out of retirement in February and it’s pretty incredible that the man from the Hague finds himself in the last-four of the Grand Slam of Darts. 

It’s maybe a surprise that the Dutchman is back in the big time, but it’s certainly not a shock when you look at Van Barneveld’s performances. 

Barney topped his group to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition and that was a section that contained top performers Price and Dave Chisnall, as well as the capable Ted Evatts. 

The Dutchman won all three of his round-robin games and that set up a last-16 contest against Simon Whitlock. 

Like Barney, the Australian thrower has been on the scene for many years, and the Wizard produced a brilliant performance with an 101 three-dart average, but Van Barneveld still found a way past the Aussie. 

The 55-year-old moved on to tackle Price for the second-time in the quarter-finals and a brilliant Barney froze out the Iceman to record a 16-13 victory. 

Incredibly, Van Barneveld is now two games away and just 5/1 to lift his first major trophy since claiming the Players Championship crown in 2019. 

Smith likely to pose a serious challenge 

Smith has shaken off the disappointment of losing in the final of last month’s European Championship to put himself in contention to land a first major title.

Bully Boy showed composure and battling qualities to secure a dramatic 16-15 victory over Joe Cullen at the last-eight stage and the St Helens arrowsmith a 100 three-dart average over the course of those 31 legs. 

Smith also performed well when beating Rob Cross at the last-16 stage of this competition and Bully Boy should pose a major threat to the players remaining in Wolverhampton. 

Humphries has high hopes of landing first major title

Van Gerwen was brilliant in his last-16 clash against the fantastic Josh Rock, but MVG was unable to replicate the same level of performance at the last-eight stage and Humphries didn’t need a second invitation to take advantage. 

Cool Hand Luke was a comfortable 16-10 winner over Mighty Mike in their quarter-final clash and that was despite missing a series of combinations checkouts and hitting only 33.3 per cent of his finishing doubles. 

The Newbury arrowsmith is 4/7 to get past Aspinall and book his place in tonight’s final and continue his bid for a first major tournament victory. 

Finishing the key to Aspinall’s chances

Aspinall recorded a 45.7 per cent checkout success in his 16-12 quarter-final victory over Alan Soutar and that strength at the end of legs will be key to the Asp’s chances of victory. 

The Stockport man has the experience of lifting a televised trophy, after claiming the 2019 UK crown, and that should serve the 11/8 shot well in his semi-final against Humphries. 

Bully Boy value to land elusive first major title 

Smith is a two-time World Championship runner-up, a beaten finalist in the World Matchplay, Premier League, European Championship, Masters and UK Open, but this could be the time that the St Helens arrowsmith gets his hands on a major trophy. 

Apart from failing to convert those finals spots into tournament victories, that’s an extremely impressive set of results for Smith, and while Van Barneveld has played well to reach the semi-finals, Bully Boy should prove too strong for the Dutchman. 

A last-four victory for the 32-year-old would set up a final clash against either Humphries or Aspinall and at 6/4 Smith looks good value to claim the Grand Slam crown.

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