Raymond van Barneveld’s year has started in promising fashion.
The five-time world champion kicked off 2018 by reaching the Masters final. Despite losing 11-8 to Michael van Gerwen, it was a positive performance. Van Barneveld received a further boost, as it was confirmed his performance had earned him a spot at the Grand Slam of Darts. Barney will be part of the 32-strong field this November in Wolverhampton.
The Dutchman is the seventh person to qualify for the Grand Slam. Van Gerwen was the first to seal his spot by winning the 2017 event. Peter Wright, the other Grand Slam finalist, also confirmed his place. They were then joined by World Youth Championship winner Dimitri van den Bergh, and runner-up Josh Payne. Jonny Clayton was the fifth player confirmed. He finished runner-up to van Gerwen at the Players Championship Finals. Rob Cross earned a place after becoming world champion in December. Phil Taylor would have taken the seventh place, but forfeited entry due to his retirement.
After van Barneveld, 25 more players will join the field. Eight of those will be chosen by the BDO. The next opportunity to claim places will be at the UK Open in March. Both the winner and runner-up will put their name into the hat for the Grand Slam, unless one or both has already qualified.
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Author: Edward McCosh