Comment & Analysis
Watch the thrilling conclusion to this year’s Grand Slam with a double session on Sunday, starting with the semi-finals from 1pm on Sky Sports Arena, followed by the final from 7pm
Last Updated: 21/11/21 7:34am
We are set for a thrilling finale at this year’s Grand Slam of Darts, as three of the world’s top four and a five-time major finalist battle it out for the coveted Eric Bristow Trophy on Sunday.
Two-time champion Gerwyn Price is the only former champion left standing, after Michael Smith produced a sublime display to dump out three-time winner Michael van Gerwen.
Price will lock horns with three-time finalist James Wade in Sunday afternoon’s opener, before Smith continues his bid for a maiden televised major against world No 2 Peter Wright, who is eyeing a place in his third Grand Slam final.
Price, Wright and Wade have all displayed fallibility throughout this year’s tournament but at crucial moments, they have delivered the goods and underlined their championship-winning credentials.
𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐅𝐈𝐍𝐀𝐋 𝐅𝐎𝐔𝐑! 🎯
32 players came, now only four remain…
Who will lift the Grand Slam title tomorrow? 🏆
— Sky Sports Darts (@SkySportsDarts) November 20, 2021
Smith is the only semi-finalist with a 100 per cent record in this year’s competition, and having beaten Van Gerwen, Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson en route to the last four, he will be confident of breaking his major duck in Wolverhampton.
Who will hold their nerve to prevail on a blockbuster day of darting drama? Here’s our lowdown ahead of Sunday afternoon’s semi-finals…
Grand Slam of Darts 2021
|Quarter-Final Results||Gerwyn Price (1) 16-12 Jonny Clayton|
|James Wade (4) 16-14 Rob Cross|
|Michael van Gerwen (3) 13-16 Michael Smith|
|Peter Wright (2) 16-13 Fallon Sherrock|
|Semi-Final||Gerwyn Price (1) vs James Wade (4)|
|Peter Wright (2) vs Michael Smith|
Live Grand Slam of Darts
November 21, 2021, 1:00pm
Gerwyn Price vs James Wade
Price and Wade both boast flawless records in Grand Slam semi-finals, therefore something has to give at the Aldersley Leisure Village.
‘The Iceman’ is the only player to have lifted the title in this venue, and although he is yet to produce his blistering best, he’s just two wins away from scooping a third Grand Slam crown in four years.
The Welshman was beaten by Martin Schindler in Group A, having previously survived a match dart against Nathan Rafferty, before he was embroiled in a real scrap against world youth champion Bradley Brooks in the last 16.
However, the world No 1 underlined his credentials with an impressive 16-12 victory over Jonny Clayton, recapturing the aggression and intensity he’s become synonymous for.
Wade also endured a sluggish start to the tournament, but he maintained his superb group stage record by thrashing Rob Cross with a 111.71 in his Group C decider – the highest televised average of his career.
Gerwyn Price v James Wade – Routes to the SFs
|5-4 v Nathan Rafferty (A)||4-5 v Jim Williams (C)|
|5-0 v Krzysztof Ratajski (A)||5-2 v Boris Krcmar (C)|
|4-5 v Martin Schindler (A)||5-2 v Rob Cross (C)|
|10-8 v Bradley Brooks (L16)||10-2 v Rowby-John Rodriguez (L16)|
|16-12 v Jonny Clayton (QFs)||16-14 v Rob Cross (QFs)|
‘The Machine’ completed the double over Cross with a narrow 16-14 success in a high-quality last-eight clash, having brushed aside Rowby-John Rodriguez impressively in round two.
The world No 4 also holds the upper hand in their head-to-head record. He’s won both of their meetings in 2021, having beaten the world champion at the same stage of this year’s UK Open – en route to lifting the title.
Wayne Mardle’s verdict
“It is a fascinating encounter. There are massive pluses for the pair of them. They weren’t playing well, but now I believe they both have to think: ‘I can win this.’
“If Wade goes through spells of mediocrity, he will get royally punished, but if Price is slightly off, the relentless nature of Wade may drag him down.
“If it comes down to double hitting, then Wade is your man. If it comes down to sheer brilliance in parts, then Price is your man.
“I still see Price being just too good. I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes last leg. I think we enter the realms of 29, 30, 31 legs. Why not?”
Peter Wright vs Michael Smith
Prior to a dart being thrown in the quarter-finals, Wright had the lowest tournament average of the remaining eight players, but he recorded his first televised ton-plus average since claiming World Matchplay glory to seal his spot in the last four.
The world No 2 has endured an alarming slump since his Winter Gardens exploits – succumbing to early exits at the World Grand Prix, the European Championship and the World Series Finals, while also struggling on the Pro Tour.
The former world champion was perhaps fortunate to escape from Group E in top spot, and he ended Jose de Sousa’s title defence in a laborious second-round tussle, before turning on the style against Fallon Sherrock.
Peter Wright v Michael Smith: Route to the SFs
|5-1 v Fallon Sherrock (E)||5-4 v Raymond van Barneveld (H)|
|4-5 v Gabriel Clemens (E)||5-2 v Gary Anderson (H)|
|5-0 v Mike De Decker (E)||5-3 v Joe Davis (H)|
|10-9 v Jose De Sousa (L16)||10-5 v Joe Cullen (L16)|
|16-13 v Fallon Sherrock (QFs)||16-13 v Michael van Gerwen (QFs)|
‘Snakebite’ still displayed signs of fragility on the outer ring, but a 100 average and 14 maximums show he is capable of claiming a first Grand Slam crown, having lost in 2017 and 2019 finals to Van Gerwen and Price respectively.
Smith is featuring in his first Grand Slam semi-final since 2015, after producing one of the most mature performances of his career to register a first win over Van Gerwen in a televised ranking event.
‘Bully Boy’ made a blistering start to race into a 5-0 lead, and although the Dutchman reduced the arrears to 7-6, Smith maintained his composure to close out a seismic victory in his pursuit of an elusive first major.
The five-time major finalist may have to beat the world No 3, world No 2 and world No 1 in successive matches to make his big breakthrough, yet on current form, he will certainly fancy his chances.
The world No 10 prevailed in their most recent meeting in Hungary back in September, although Wright is unbeaten in 10 televised tussles against ‘Bully Boy’, in a record dating back to 2018.
What the players had to say…
Wright: “I’ve got to improve. Michael Smith played some fantastic darts. I did have a go at him earlier, why do you practice so much?
“That is why he practises so much, because he beat Michael van Gerwen, so hats off to Michael Smith. He hit Michael from the off and kept him under pressure all the time.”
Smith: “I’ll do the same as I’ve done every day, and I’ve got to keep telling myself that it’s just another game. I’ve got to get on with it and play my own darts.
“I just need to keep focused, keep my head on, which I’ve been working on for the last 12 months. It might happen, it might not, but I won’t give up. I’ll keep on fighting.”
Don’t miss a dart from the Grand Slam of Darts which continues on Sunday with a double session that starts with the semi-finals from 1pm and then the final from 7pm – join us on Sky Sports Arena.