Grand Slam of Darts 2020 schedule: Monday session, featuring Wade versus Van den Bergh in semi-finals
We're going to have a brand new name on the Grand Slam of Darts trophy. What a ridiculous set of quarter-finals we were treated to. Only 124 legs of darts could've been played at maximum; we saw 121, all of them brilliant. After some intense darting drama, there are four left in the mix. Either Simon Whitlock, James Wade, Dimitri van den Bergh or Jose de Sousa will take the Eric Bristow Trophy away from Coventry.
Former champions Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price have fallen by the wayside, leaving room for a new man to write their name into the Grand Slam of Darts history books. Now Whitlock versus De Sousa and Wade versus Van Den Bergh will determine Tuesday's two finalists.
Simon Whitlock might well have put in one of the greatest performances seen at the Grand Slam. At first glance, a 95 average in a narrow win isn't all that. But consider the context. Michael van Gerwen, back in form, threw everything at him. The Wizard responded with 20 - TWENTY - 180s. Even 19 would've been a record for any match ever played in this tournament's history. When Mighty Mike stumbled at the death, Whitlock struck.
Jose de Sousa is into his first major semi-final, and anyone who's been watching him on the floor or in smaller stage events could've told you this has been coming for a while. The Portuguese hasn't hit his best at any stage in this competition, and has gone through the odd dire patch. But he has always found a way out, which is what you need if you want to build a trophy collection. Stamina is his forte, so if Whitlock wants to push this game to its limits, you better believe de Sousa will still have enough left in the tank. The treble 20 is going to suffer in this game - not just because of Whitlock's darts.
Could this be James Wade's year? It's a decade since the Machine led 8-0 in the Grand Slam final, yet somehow conspired to lose against Scott Waites. If there's a time to avenge both that and his 2016 final loss, it's right here, right now. Damon Heta threw the kitchen sink at Wade, and did remarkably just to keep up. In the end, the two-time finalist lived up to his nickname, and ground out a vital win. The scoring was sublime, with Wade averaging north of 100 over 29 legs. The ghosts of those two nearly-years would be banished with more of the same.
Dimitri van den Bergh can go out and avenge words, rather than deeds. It's Wade who has been questioning his major-winning credentials, arguing that without the changes enforced by COVID-19, Van Den Bergh would never have become Matchplay champion. Now it's up to Wade himself to back up those claims. The Belgian has shown the stuff of champions throughout this tournament, still boasting the highest overall average. But he slipped, almost fatally, at times against Nathan Aspinall. Wade's ruthlessness on doubles is a stark warning to Van Den Bergh that the best will be required.
But like Wade, Whitlock and De Sousa, the Dream Maker will be sure that another dream can be fulfilled in Coventry tomorrow night.
2020 Grand Slam of Darts Schedule
Monday November 23
19:10 Simon Whitlock v Jose De Sousa
20:45 James Wade v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Best of 31 legs