The Grand Slam of Darts begins on Saturday afternoon when half of the groups start out on their journey inside the WV Active Aldersley in Wolverhampton on a day where we should see some good darts to open up what is always a good event.
Everyone on show in the competition knows they have three matches to play but things will be a lot easier for everyone if they win their opening game and that will be the aim for all 16 players competing in the afternoon.
First Four Matches
We begin the tournament in Group H where the Australian former World Cup winner Damon Heta takes on the winner of the final European Tour event of the season in Ricardo Pietreczko. When they are done we open up Group F as the UK Open champion Andrew Gilding meets Brendan Dolan before a very tasty starter to Group D comes along when Ryan Searle goes up against the new youngster on the scene in Gian van Veen. We hit the halfway mark of the afternoon with the starting game in Group B as Chris Dobey takes on Josh Rock.
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Later Four Matches
The schedule switches a little for the second part of the afternoon with Group F back as the centre of attention to begin the latter part of the day. Danny Noppert will look to justify top seeding in the section when he takes on the Japanese player Haruki Muramatsu before the two World Matchplay winners meet when Nathan Aspinall faces Beau Greaves. Jonny Clayton will hope to find some form in the penultimate match of the afternoon when he takes on Berry van Peer before we conclude the session with the former winner Gerwyn Price meeting Nathan Rafferty.
I’m never one to go racing into these best of nine matches but as ever I just can’t ignore an odds against price on a competent player in Ricardo Pietreczko to see off a less than confident on the big stage Damon Heta. To be fair to the Australian, he had a wonderful week on the floor last time out with a couple of semi-final appearances and then qualifying for this tournament but the floor stuff has never been his problem.
I’m not sure why he has started goofing around on his walk ons on the big stages but it isn’t exactly having much in the way of a positive impact. He has lost in the first round of the last three TV tournaments and never made the final session of the last four European Tour events which he only has to win two matches to do. Pietreczko has shown signs of life in the last few months. He won the last European Tour event where he took care of Stephen Bunting, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright on the final day, and then scared MVG at the European Championship too. The German’s averages on the final day of that European Tour success were 102.23, 99.15 and 92.93. If he has those darts with him he’s a huge runner here.
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