Luke Humphries produced a stunning display to dump out three-time champion Michael van Gerwen and storm through to the Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts semi-finals on a dramatic Saturday night in Wolverhampton.
Humphries – a UK Open runner-up in 2021 – secured his place in a second televised semi-final with an emphatic 16-10 victory over Van Gerwen, who joined reigning champion Gerwyn Price in bowing out at the quarter-final stage.
Van Gerwen had been in irresistible form at the Aldersley Leisure Village, but he was outplayed throughout by a rampant Humphries, who averaged 97 despite squandering 32 darts at double.
The 27-year-old – a four-time winner on the European Tour in 2022 – also posted eight 180s and hit three ton-plus finishes in setting up a semi-final showdown against Nathan Aspinall.
“I just proved again that I can beat the world's top players,” said Humphries, who is set to rise to fifth on the PDC Order of Merit following the tournament.
“I’ve got good memories of playing Michael. I’ve beaten him in some great games and if you haven’t got that belief, you’ve probably lost before you have got up there.
“It’s a trophy I would love to pick up because it’s one of the toughest to win, and if I could pick that trophy up, I would dedicate it to my Dad, because he’s done so much for me over the years.”
Humphries established an early 4-2 advantage following an error-strewn start to proceedings, with the pair spurning 26 darts at double between them in the opening six legs.
The contest suddenly sparked into life following an 11-darter from Van Gerwen in leg seven, before Humphries converted sublime 140 and 167 finishes in consecutive legs to stretch his lead to 6-3.
The 27-year-old almost produced another moment of magic in leg 11 - wiring the bull for a 170 outshot – only to respond with a 12-darter followed by a two-dart 94 combination to race 9-5 ahead.
Van Gerwen arrested his slump in some style, producing legs of 12 and 11 darts to halve the deficit, although his revival was short-lived when Humphries conjured up a brilliant 132 on the bull to break back.
The third seed came perilously close to responding with a majestic 164 checkout, but after wiring the bull for a show-stopping finish, he could only watch as Humphries extended his lead to 12-8.
Humphries was constantly threatening huge three-figure combinations, and he capitalised on further fragility from the three-time World Champion to move a leg away from glory at 15-10.
Van Gerwen preserved his slender hopes with a 104 skin-saver, yet this only proved to be a temporary reprieve, as Humphries sank tops to seal the deal after Van Gerwen had missed the same target to stay alive.
Humphries will now take on former UK Open champion Aspinall for a place in Sunday night's showpiece, after the Stockport star overcame a spirited Alan Soutar to secure a place in his first Grand Slam semi-final.
Soutar defeated Aspinall in their Group E tussle last weekend, but the former Premier League runner-up made amends in a topsy-turvy clash to close out a 16-12 success.
Aspinall raced out of the blocks, registering three 180s and a 177 within the opening three legs to establish a 4-1 cushion, despite missing 11 darts at double.
Soutar found his range in the second mini-session, reducing the arrears to 6-4 after Aspinall was unable to follow up a 107 finish in leg seven with a 112 combination in leg ten.
The Scot continued his revival to level at seven apiece, following up a ten-darter in leg 12 with back-to-back 14-darters, having also missed the bull for a 170 checkout during a stunning three-leg spell.
However, Aspinall stopped the rot with a 13-dart hold before restoring his buffer with a brilliant 142 finish to lead 9-7, and he punished crucial errors from Soutar to make it five legs without reply.
The pair shared the next four legs as Aspinall edged closer to victory at 14-9, but Soutar replied with back-to-back legs, crashing in his eighth maximum in the process.
However, Soutar’s profligacy on the outer ring was his undoing throughout the contest, and after he spurned three darts at double 18 to cut the gap to 14-12, Aspinall capitalised to complete a hard-fought victory.
“At the end of that match I was really poor, and I have to improve tomorrow or I’m not going to be winning anything,” conceded Aspinall, who averaged 95 and landed seven maximums.
“I’m into another semi-final though, so I’ve got to take the positives, and I don’t think a big title is too far away.”
Aspinall and Humphries will contest the afternoon’s second semi-final, with 2012 champion Van Barneveld taking on World Championship runner-up Michael Smith in Sunday's curtain-raiser.
The semi-finals and final will both be played over the best of 31 legs, as the remaining four players battle it out for the £150,000 top prize on what promises to be a fascinating Finals Day in Wolverhampton.
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Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts
Saturday November 19 (1900 GMT)
Nathan Aspinall 16-12 Alan Soutar
Luke Humphries 16-10 Michael van Gerwen
Sunday November 20 (1300 GMT)
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Nathan Aspinall v Luke Humphries
Best of 31 legs
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Van Barneveld/Smith v Aspinall/Humphries
Best of 31 legs