2022 Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts: Finals Day preview

Raymond van Barneveld (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Raymond van Barneveld, Michael Smith, Nathan Aspinall and Luke Humphries will battle it out for Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts glory on a fascinating Finals Day in Wolverhampton on Sunday.

Following eight thrilling days of darts at the Aldersley Leisure Village, the semi-final line-up consists of three players ranked in the world's top ten, and one of the sport’s all-time greats.

The semi-finals and final will take place on a bumper day of action, after the tournament was blown wide open following quarter-final exits for Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price.

Sunday afternoon’s opening semi-final will see tournament favourite Smith continue his bid for a maiden televised ranking title against 2012 champion Van Barneveld.

Van Barneveld has rolled back the years in Wolverhampton to secure a place in his first TV ranking semi-final since January 2017, having dumped out reigning champion Price in a last eight classic.

The Dutch veteran also defeated Price in last weekend’s round-robin phase, before producing a stellar display to inflict the world number one’s first defeat in the knockout stages at this venue.

Van Barneveld is now eyeing his second Grand Slam triumph – a decade on from his 2012 success – as he bids to cap off one of the most incredible comeback stories in darting history.

“They all know I can do this. It’s all about belief, and I have worked so unbelievably hard,” said Van Barneveld, who has also beaten Dave Chisnall, Ted Evetts and Simon Whitlock to reach the last four.

“I’m a happy man. I was struggling for many years, but I love to play darts, I love to play in front of these amazing crowds and hopefully I can produce on Sunday.

“Michael Smith is something else. The ease he is playing with is incredible. He’s a fantastic player, but I’m looking forward to it, I’m relaxed and I’m thinking I can do this.”

Smith came through a deciding-leg epic against Joe Cullen to secure his spot in a second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final, and he’s now eyeing a spot in his fourth televised ranking final of 2022.

The St Helens star breezed through the round-robin phase to extend his record-breaking run of Group Stage victories to 16, before overcoming former World Champion Rob Cross in the last 16.

Smith then produced a superb recovery from 15-13 down to deny Cullen in a gripping last eight clash, to continue his bid for an elusive first TV ranking success.

“I’ve made a career out of these last-leg deciders. Sometimes I win them, sometimes I lose them, but I wasn’t losing that one,” insisted Smith, a two-time World Championship runner-up.

“I’ve had a good year, winning ProTours, a European Tour, a World Series event and reaching three major finals. I cannot complain.

“I have had a lot of experience of being in semi-finals this year and making it to the final. It’s just about getting ready for the big next step, but I’ve got to get there first.”

The second semi-final will then see former UK Open champion Aspinall take on Humphries, who is aiming to lift his first senior televised title.

World Grand Prix runner-up Aspinall is bidding to reach his second TV final in as many months, booking his last four spot with wins over Jermaine Wattimen and Alan Soutar in the knockout stages.

The Stockport star also defeated World Champion Peter Wright in the round-robin phase, and his victory over Soutar has seen him climb above Gary Anderson and return to the world’s top ten.

Aspinall feared for his career after suffering a serious wrist injury 12 months ago, but the 31-year-old is now aiming to complete a superb revival by clinching his first TV title since 2019.

“I believe I can win, but I have to perform at my best,” admitted Aspinall, who lifted UK Open and US Darts Masters titles three years ago.

“I have got to stay focused, I have got to stay sharp, and it’s something I need to learn to do if I want to become an elite player.

“I’m just enjoying my darts, especially after where I was six or eight months ago. I’m loving every minute, I’m into another semi-final and I’m on cloud nine.”

Humphries, meanwhile, produced a sublime display to dispatch three-time champion Van Gerwen 16-10 in Saturday night’s quarter-finals, taking out 167, 140 and 132 finishes in the process.

The 27-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough 2022 season, scooping four European Tour titles and a Players Championship crown to move up to a career-high of world number five.

Humphries – a UK Open runner-up in March 2021 – is now setting his sights on a first televised ranking title as he bids to continue his remarkable rise in the sport.

“It is a trophy I would love to pick up because it’s one of the hardest to win,” said Humphries, who also defeated Scott Williams, Ryan Searle and European Champion Ross Smith to reach the last four.

“I have envisioned myself winning a major title and I’ve always said to people I know I can do it, but there are four great players ready and waiting to pick up this title.

“I think it’s going to be an exciting day of darts, and if I could go on and win this title, it would mean the world to me.”

Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts
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