Grand Slam of Darts 2020 schedule: Friday session, featuring Van Den Bergh, Wade and Whitlock
Ready for even more Grand Slam of Darts drama?
The Wednesday and Thursday sessions brought up all sorts of drama. First, we had Wednesday's quartet of deciders. Somehow, Thursday topped it in the entertainment stakes. Gerwyn Price almost went out, while Peter Wright did. Ian White and Adam Hunt qualified after losing their opening two games, the first players in the 14-year history of the Grand Slam of Darts to do so. Now we're into the best-of-19 first knockout round games; the white-knuckle ride is just starting.
Not many players have had a smooth ride into the Grand Slam knockouts. Dimitri van den Bergh is one of them. The World Matchplay champion cantered to three wins, and across those three, he averaged more than any player ever in the Grand Slam group stage - anyone who's not called Phil Taylor, anyway. Van den Bergh goes into the round in which he hit a nine-darter two years back with more reasons to be cheerful than anyone.
Jonny Clayton isn't riding as high, but after whitewashing Mikuru Suzuki with ease, he didn't have to watch Gerwyn Price's win over Ryan Joyce with bated breath. It's a nasty tie for the Ferret, but it should be remembered that they start level - and on a level playing field, he is more than good enough to win this tie.
Ian White needed something really special to get through, and he provided it. A sterling performance against Dirk van Duijvenbode, garnished with a 100 per cent record on the doubles, did half the job. Devon Petersen did the rest for him. White had played alright, even in his defeats, so he's not really missed a step. The finishing falling into place makes him very dangerous.
James Wade, by contrast, has indicated that he's not so pleased with his more recent performances. Despite that self-doubt, the Machine beat three good players in Damon Heta, Jermaine Wattimena and Glen Durrant. Wade has excelled on the outer ring, with a 58 per cent checkout rate - and you have to feel that if he keeps that up, Ian White will need to dig deep once again.
Adam Hunt's qualification from Group A is one of the most surprising in the history of this competition. That's not down to his quality, naturally. For one, he'd lost his opening two games. Being in a group with Michael van Gerwen, Joe Cullen and Gabriel Clemens, that should be the kiss of death. And then you consider that Clemens was 2-0 up in his last game, and this is just downright mind-boggling. It's brilliant to see another talented young player putting on a run.
It's Simon Whitlock's job to bring that run to a shuddering halt. Topping a tough group with three wins is a boost for the Wizard, who smashed in ten 180s during the group stage, and he'll attempt to force Hunt to follow his consistent scoring or risk falling well behind.
Dave Chisnall needs to consider two key stats. One is that he got three wins out of three, which is always easier said than done. The other, more worrying, figure is his 25 per cent checkout rate, which was worse than Wayne Warren's. You simply can't be that wasteful and go far in a tournament like the Grand Slam.
Jose de Sousa may have been blown away by Michael Smith, but otherwise he's looked good - if not quite his best self, which is still mostly seen on the floor. This should end up being a heavy gunfight between players who rarely lose sight of the treble 20. Chisnall's big advantage is that he's been in this situation a lot of times, while De Sousa's major CV is still very sparse. Now's as good as time as any for the Portuguese star to make a mark.
2020 Grand Slam of Darts Schedule
Friday November 20 (19:00 GMT)
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Jonny Clayton
James Wade v Ian White
Simon Whitlock v Adam Hunt
Dave Chisnall v Jose De Sousa