There are four players and three matches left at the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts.
Where the first two quarter-finals were well-fought, if not tense, affairs, the second pair were wrapped up quickly. Gerwyn Price sauntered past Gary Anderson, barely registering any emotion for the first ten legs or so. Given that this is the ironically-nicknamed Iceman we’re talking about, that’s quite something. Afterwards, Michael van Gerwen dismissed Adrian Lewis without breaking a sweat. You’d assume the final day of Grand Slam action will be more dramatic.
The two semi-finals pit the first seed against the fifth, and the number seven against a BDO wildcard who’s been tearing up the PDC for ten months. We’re likely to be treated to a spectacular end to the latest major in the calendar.
Peter Wright vs Glen Durrant
Only three players have reached the Grand Slam semi-finals while representing the BDO: Scott Waites (twice); Gary Anderson (twice); and Glen Durrant. That Duzza forfeited his BDO membership ten months ago is neither here nor there. In any case, it’s three major televised semi-finals in a season for the Middlesbrough man, which is hard enough even for seasoned campaigners.
While his seesaw quarter-final against Michael Smith was enthralling, what really caught the attention were Durrant’s post-match comments. He compared himself to James Wade, labelling himself one of the game’s best closers. Durrant lauded his own fighting spirit and deadliness on decisive doubles. The confidence levels are through the roof. After a couple of close-but-no-cigar runs, the Grand Slam could open the floodgates for Duzza.
It doesn’t always work like that, however; just ask Peter Wright. Snakebite has been on the cusp of a major trophy deluge for years now. It looked as if 2017 would be that year for him – but after winning the UK Open and a slew of European Tour titles, the Slam was the third and final event of that year where he fell at the final hurdle. Incidentally, 2017 was when this pair met at the Grand Slam. Wright won that battle 16-10.
A lot of players have been where Wright has been, and fallen away completely. The Scot’s ranking his suffered due to a failure to defend large ranking earnings, but his form is as good as ever. Wright has played five games – that’s 62 legs total – and his lowest match average was 98.16. When Dave Chisnall thought the seventh seed was on the ropes, he came roaring back. Even a switch of darts paid dividends.
The narrative sets this tie up nicely; either Durrant finally breaks the semi-final duck, or Wright earns himself a shot at a title in the midst of this frightening form. Neither will give up their dream without a hell of a fight.
Michael van Gerwen vs Gerwyn Price
“I know of all the players left I have the most talent by a mile, so if I play well and don’t make any mistakes then I will be the champion, simple.”
People often say that Michael van Gerwen makes the game look easy, but that’s something else.
The Dutchman already has his path to victory mapped out. And why not? It’s no secret that the world number one is unstoppable when at his best. What’s worrying for Gerwyn Price is that van Gerwen has been at his best throughout this tournament. He showed no signs of mental or physical fatigue in the quarter-finals, averaging 103.05 against Adrian Lewis.
Price goes into this semi-final off the back of a significant match. It wasn’t just a routine win over Gary Anderson, who pushed him all the way in the 2018 Grand Slam final. But the crowd weren’t against him either. Price fought on one front, kept his emotions in check (until the latter stages), and won. Last year’s title win came with demons, and they might have been exorcised in time for a successful defence.
Yet while public opinion is a weight lifted from him, those broad shoulders have to bear history’s weight instead. His record against Michael van Gerwen is probably the worst in darting history. Is that harsh? Perhaps. But a player of his innate quality should not have an 0-19 record against anyone, even a man many believe is the most talented ever. For context, Keegan Brown’s beaten MvG twice in 2019 alone.
It means a real switch in approach for Price. He’s been the clear favourite in his games so far, and only Robert Thornton has made him fight for his life. But now he’s the underdog. The Iceman has to avoid being in the position Anderson was in last night, trailing from the start. Michael van Gerwen at full momentum is a frightening prospect, however. It might be the Dutchman himself who determines whether or not there’ll be an opening.
Price’s abysmal returns against van Gerwen has to end somewhere. How magical it would be if Aldersley Leisure Village proves to be that place.
Click here to view more information on the Grand Slam of Darts, the only cross-code tournament on the PDC calendar.
Grand Slam of Darts 2019 schedule
13:15 Peter Wright vs Glen Durrant
14:45 Michael van Gerwen vs Gerwyn PriceTags: PDC
Author: Ed McCosh