Groups E-H of the Grand Slam of Darts come to a conclusion on Monday night.

With three already through and three out from the four groups, the evening’s play will be much more significant for the ten whose Grand Slam prospects are still alive.

The low-pressure ties

In the interest of belaying the drama, the first three games are ostensibly dead rubbers. That being said, Gabriel Clemens has top spot in Group G to play for. The German has been consistently excellent and, should he beat Richard Veenstra, he’ll mount a challenge against anything Group H throws at him. Veenstra, meanwhile, has endured a torrid tournament. For some reason, he hasn’t found his form at all, winning a solitary leg. The Dutchman can still have an impact on the Grand Slam here, should he get in his stride.

Michael Smith piled in the third-highest Grand Slam average of all time against Nathan Aspinall on Sunday. If he maintains his ridiculous scoring form, he’ll go all the way. First he needs to wrap up Group H. The Bully Boy’s likely to do it too, against Martin Schindler, who was facing an uphill battle from the moment the draw was made.

A send-off and a showdown

Lisa Ashton has shown glimpses of her best; few of them were visible against Jamie Hughes. She has one last chance to make an impact and round off her Grand Slam debut in style. Dave Chisnall is through, and will be a massive favourite against the Group F runner-up. Chizzy needs to watch out for complacency because, if Ashton finds her A-game and springs a surprise, top spot might not be his after all.

In terms of the narrative, the fourth game of the Monday session is the highlight. Northern Ireland’s two brightest-shining lights. A pair of players capable of some major fireworks. One Grand Slam spot, and one game to decide it. Daryl Gurney versus Brendan Dolan will be pure box office. Gurney is the favourite on paper, but given Dolan’s overall form in 2019, let’s not rule anything out.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Can Warren burrow out?

The two Group F games will be played back-to-back, because there are no conclusions already drawn from out. All four can go through; they can all go out, too. Peter Wright will feel confident about his chances, topping the group with two wins and a healthy leg difference. In fact, he’d still win the group with a 5-4 defeat to Danny Noppert. The Dutchman desperately needs a win, or his Grand Slam is over.

He has zero points and a minus seven leg difference. Yet bizarrely, Wayne Warren isn’t done yet. First of all, he needs Wright to lend a massive helping hand – namely, with a 5-0 win. He then has to whitewash Ryan Harrington. Perhaps he is done, after all. Harrington, meanwhile, is in a fantastic position. All he has to do in essence is win one leg more than Danny Noppert – unless Noppert wins, in which case he has to win by a bigger margin. Or, of course, hope the Dutchman thrashes Wright so a thumping win sends the seed home. The Grand slam can be confusing, sometimes.

Group E and G’s fitting climaxes

When the draw was made, and Groups E and G were dubbed the twin groups of death, this was always going to be the likely outcome. Four outstanding players go head-to-head, with two heading home and the other two powering on.

Not many would’ve seen Rob Cross mired in this qualification dogfight. Cross himself will have pictured himself topping Group E, but Dave Chisnall looks set to do that. His loss against Chizzy was by a fine margin, but it could make all the difference. Jamie Hughes sits second now thanks to a routine win over Lisa Ashton. He knows what he needs to do to stay there, but Cross is notoriously cool under pressure. This won’t be easy for either.

A Glen Durrant-Nathan Aspinall battle for second seemed destined. But it didn’t seem such a foregone conclusion when Durrant was dragged into a decider by Martin Schindler. He kept his cool to keep the Grand Slam dream alive. Aspinall, meanwhile, did nothing wrong against Michael Smith but lost 5-1. He’ll recognise it as the freak result that it was, and will know that playing the same against Duzza would likely get him an all-important victory.

Grand Slam of Darts 2019, Day Four

Evening session schedule

19:00 Gabriel Clemens v Richard Veenstra (G)
19:30 Michael Smith v Martin Schindler (H)
20:00 Dave Chisnall v Lisa Ashton (E)
20:30 Daryl Gurney v Brendan Dolan (G)
21:00 Peter Wright v Danny Noppert (F)
21:30 Ryan Harrington v Wayne Warren (F)
22:00 Rob Cross v Jamie Hughes (E)
22:30 Nathan Aspinall v Glen Durrant (H)

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Author: Ed McCosh