THE Daily Mirror Grand Slam of Darts begins on Saturday, as 32 stars of the sport seek to claim the £100,000 title at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall over the next nine days.

Stars from both the Professional Darts Corporation and BDO systems will gather at the Wolves Civic to battle for the sought-after title, which has been won for the past three years by Stoke legend Phil Taylor.

Taylor heads up one of the eight four-player groups for the round-robin first round stage in Wolverhampton, as players battle to qualify for the knockout last 16.

Play begins with Groups A-D playing their first matches on Saturday evening at the Wolves Civic, with former UK Open finalist Colin Osborne facing Scotland’s Robert Thornton in the opening game of the event.

Their Group A rivals, Ladbrokes.com World Championship runner-up Simon Whitlock and Lakeside Championship finalist Dave Chisnall, will also clash in one of the high-profile contests of the opening night.

Mervyn King meets Women’s World Champion Stacy Bromberg as the American ace – who is joined by Tricia Wright as female stars taking part in Wolverhampton – gets to take on the world number six ranked male star.

“It’s hugely exciting,” said Bromberg. “Obviously Mervyn will be a big favourite but it’s a fantastic opportunity for Tricia and myself to play against the best in the men’s game and over the best of nine legs anything can happen.”

2009 quarter-finalist Tony O’Shea takes on quick-fire Dutchman Vincent van der Voort, while Gary Anderson – twice a semi-finalist in Wolverhampton – takes on debutant Mark Hylton, who won through the ITV Wildcard Qualifier in Barnsley last Friday.

Justin Pipe and John Henderson, two of the other ITV Wildcard Qualifiers, have tough tasks against world number two James Wade and 2008 Grand Slam finalist Terry Jenkins respectively, and Wolverhampton’s Wayne Jones plays Wales’ former Lakeside Champion Mark Webster.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Jones. “I played in the first Grand Slam of Darts but lost in the group stage and didn’t do myself justice so I’m keen to do well this time.

“Mark’s a great player and I’ve got a tough group with Gary Anderson and Mark Hylton but every group’s full of top players and it’s going to be a challenge.”

Sunday’s afternoon session sees Groups E-H, featuring the other 16 stars, begin their challenge on the Wolves Civic stage.

Reigning and three-time champion Taylor’s group has been dubbed the “Group of Death”, with former Lakeside Champion Ted Hankey, in-form Wes Newton and Dutch wonderkid Michael van Gerwen drawn alongside the 15-time World Champion.

Taylor faces van Gerwen in the final game of the afternoon, while Telford’s Hankey – the two-time Lakeside Champion who was a group stage loser on his Grand Slam debut last year – faces Newton, who followed up his success in the ITV Wildcard Qualifier with back-to-back Players Championship wins last weekend.

“I’m raring to go,” said Taylor, who will wear glasses for the first time in competition at Wolverhampton. “It’s a special event because it’s players from the PDC and the BDO and I really enjoy it.

“The group stage is always interesting and I’ve got a belter of a group. I play Michael van Gerwen first and he’s the kind of player who can produce anything over nine legs, he’s a massive talent and I’ll have to be firing from the start.”

Scott Waites, who enjoyed a tremendous Grand Slam of Darts last year when he won through to the final, opens the session against Holland’s Co Stompe, before Colin Lloyd faces Darryl Fitton.

Paul Nicholson, January’s Players Championship Finals winner who previously competed in the 2008 Grand Slam, returns to the Wolves Civic stage against 20-year-old Arron Monk, who qualified by reaching the PDC Unicorn Under-21 World Championship Final last Saturday.

“I can’t wait,” said Nicholson. “It’s been an ambition of mine to get back on that stage since I qualified in January and I’ve had a really good preparation, so I’m excited about getting up there against Arron.”

Blackpool’s Ronnie Baxter and former Lakeside Champion Steve Beaton take to the stage for the fifth game, before number five seed Adrian Lewis, the Bodog.com World Grand Prix runner-up last month, takes on Martin Phillips, who was a Lakeside Championship semi-finalist this year.

Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld takes to the stage before Taylor closes the afternoon’s play, with the Dutchman meeting Tricia Wright in the other battle of the sexes.

Sunday’s evening session will see the winners from the opening Group A-D games face off, and the losers from each group also meet, with those players playing their final group games on Tuesday.

Groups E-H will play their second and third games on Monday and Wednesday evenings respectively, with the top two players from each group after the round-robin stage progressing to the knockout last 16.

The Daily Mirror Grand Slam of Darts will be played from November 13-21 at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall and shown live on ITV4. For tickets, call 0870 320 7000 or visit the Wolves Civic Box Office.

Daily Mirror Grand Slam of Darts – Schedule of Play
Saturday November 13
6pm-10.30pm
Groups A-D First Games
Colin Osborne v Robert Thornton (Group A)
Mervyn King v Stacy Bromberg (Group C)
Vincent van der Voort v Tony O’Shea (Group D)
Gary Anderson v Mark Hylton (Group B)
Simon Whitlock v Dave Chisnall (Group A)
James Wade v Justin Pipe (Group D)
Wayne Jones v Mark Webster (Group B)
Terry Jenkins v John Henderson (Group C)

Sunday November 14
Afternoon Session – 12.30pm-5pm
Co Stompe v Scott Waites (Group E)
Colin Lloyd v Darryl Fitton (Group F)
Paul Nicholson v Arron Monk (Group G)
Wes Newton v Ted Hankey (Group H)
Ronnie Baxter v Steve Beaton (Group G)
Adrian Lewis v Martin Phillips (Group E)
Raymond van Barneveld v Tricia Wright (Group F)
Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen (Group H)

Evening Session – 6pm-10.30pm
Groups A-D Second Games
The winners of Saturday’s games will play each other and the losers will play each other

Monday November 15
6pm-10.30pm
Groups E-H Second Games
The winners of Sunday afternoon’s games will play each other and the losers will play each other

Tuesday November 16
6pm-10.30pm
Groups A-D Final Games

Wednesday November 17
6pm-10.30pm
Groups E-H Final Games

Thursday November 18
6pm-10.30pm
Groups A-D Second Round
Winner A v Runner-Up B
Winner B v Runner-Up A
Winner C v Runner-Up D
Winner D v Runner-Up C

Friday November 19
6pm-10.30pm
Groups E-H Second Round
Winner E v Runner-Up F
Winner F v Runner-Up E
Winner G v Runner-Up H
Winner H v Runner-Up G

Saturday November 20
Afternoon Session – 12.30pm-5pm
Quarter-Finals x2

Evening Session – 6pm-10.30pm
Quarter-Finals x2

Sunday November 21
Afternoon Session – 12.30pm-5pm
Semi-Finals

Evening Session – 8pm-10.30pm
Final

The Order of Play for all sessions after the opening matches for each group will be confirmed as soon as possible once the previous session involving players concludes.
The knockout stages will be played in a bracket format, with the qualifiers in Groups A-D progressing in the top half of the draw bracket and players from Groups E-H forming the bottom half of the draw bracket.

Format
First Round (Group Phase) Best of nine legs
Second Round Best of 19 legs
Quarter-Finals Best of 31 legs
Semi-Finals Best of 31 legs
Final Best of 31 legs

Prize Fund

Winner

£100,000

Runner-Up

£50,000

Semi-Final Losers

£25,000

Quarter-Final Losers

£15,000

Second Round Losers

£7,500

Group Winner’s Bonus

£2,500

Third Place In Group

£5,000

Fourth Place In Group

£2,500

Total

£400,000

 

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