Gary Anderson produced a vintage display to defeat three-time champion Gerwyn Price in a thrilling second round clash at the Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts on Wednesday.
Anderson, a two-time runner-up at the Grand Slam, defied eight 180s and a 103 average from Price to continue his bid for an elusive Grand Slam crown on a high-quality night of action in Wolverhampton.
Day Five of the £650,000 event saw the knockout stages begin on a bumper night of action at WV Active Aldersley, and it was Anderson who stole the headlines in a repeat of the pair’s infamous 2018 final.
Price – who registered consecutive 110 and 112 averages in the round-robin phase – drew first blood with a 14-dart hold, only for Anderson to seize the early initiative with a run of three straight legs.
The Welshman responded to restore parity at three apiece, only for Anderson to win four of the next five legs to regain control – sparked by a superb 12-dart break in leg seven.
The Scot maintained his charge by crashing in consecutive maximums to stretch his lead to 8-4, although Price refused to relent, registering back-to-back 13-darters to put himself back in contention.
Nevertheless, Anderson halted Price’s charge with a brilliant 11-darter in the penultimate leg, which he followed with a comfortable hold of throw via double six to cap off a virtuoso display.
“There’s life in the old dog yet,” joked Anderson, who averaged 104.96 to set up a mouth-watering quarter-final showdown against Luke Humphries.
“Gerwyn has been playing very well. Hitting 110 and 112 averages is a hard job to do, but I’ve hit a 102 and now a 104, so we’re getting there.
“I’m playing well on the practice board, I’m playing well on the floor, and that was the most comfortable I’ve felt on the stage for a while.”
Humphries sealed his place in the last eight with a superb 10-7 victory against Ryan Searle, defying three ton-plus checkouts from the Somerset star to triumph with a 105 average and nine 180s.
Searle, who landed a sensational nine-darter to seal his last 16 berth on Monday, remarkably led 3-2 at the first interval, despite averaging 15 points less than Humphries in the opening session.
However, the World Grand Prix champion won six of the next seven legs to assume control at 8-4, with a magnificent ten-darter in leg 12 typifying his relentless scoring power.
Searle – featuring in the knockout stages at the Grand Slam for the first time – prolonged the contest with 115, 112 and 94 combinations in the closing stages, but Humphries kept his cool to prevail.
“That was a really tough game to play,” reflected the world number four, who is eyeing his second televised ranking title in as many months.
“I felt really good there. I probably could have been 8-2 up but I wasn’t, and that’s just testament to how good Ryan is, because he pushes you.
“Ryan is one of the elite players in my opinion. I know what he is capable of, so when he started coming back at me there, I started to get a little worried!”
Earlier in the night, three-time runner-up James Wade continued his resurgence after fending off a late rally from Masters champion Chris Dobey to move through to his sixth Grand Slam quarter-final.
Dobey followed up 106 and 110 checkouts with a 13-darter to secure an early 3-2 lead, although Wade hit back with consecutive 103 finishes; winning seven of the next nine legs to establish a commanding 9-5 cushion.
Dobey, who also took out 133 in leg 11, replied with three straight legs to cut the gap to 9-8, but Wade sealed his progress in a dramatic finale, after the Bedlington star missed three darts at double 18 to force a decider.
“We want to win a little bit too much at times, and that’s what happened tonight,” admitted Wade, who will regain his place in the world’s top ten with glory in Wolverhampton.
“I let so many opportunities go and I didn’t get it wrapped up, but luckily Chris missed some big shots, because if he forced a decider, I dare say he probably would have won.”
In the evening’s opener, Josh Rock produced an impressive display to see off Krzysztof Ratajski and move through to his first premier televised ranking quarter-final.
Rock, who was edged out by Michael van Gerwen in an epic last 16 encounter last year, raced into a 4-0 lead with a 103 average and a 100% success rate on the outer ring.
The Northern Irishman retained his four-leg buffer to establish a 7-3 lead at the second interval, before landing an 11-darter and a delightful double-double 93 finish in the latter stages on his way to a 10-5 success.
“I think my celebration said it all,” reflected the 2022 World Youth Champion, who will face Wade for a place in Sunday’s semi-finals.
“I knew I hadn’t got through to a quarter-final on the major stage before, but I managed to control the nerves and get the win, so I’m happy.
“This is a big moment. I wasn’t at my best in the group stage, so I knew I had to pick my game up against Krzysztof and I did that.”
The second round action will conclude on Thursday, as three-time champion Michael van Gerwen takes on Australian number one Damon Heta for a place in the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall faces 2018 World Champion Rob Cross, world number seven Danny Noppert plays a resurgent Stephen Bunting, while UK Open champion Andrew Gilding meets American newcomer Stowe Buntz.
2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts
Wednesday November 15
Second Round x4
Josh Rock 10-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
James Wade 10-8 Chris Dobey
Gary Anderson 10-6 Gerwyn Price
Luke Humphries 10-7 Ryan Searle
Thursday November 16 (1900-2300 GMT)
Second Round x4
Stowe Buntz v Andrew Gilding
Danny Noppert v Stephen Bunting
Michael van Gerwen v Damon Heta
Nathan Aspinall v Rob Cross
Friday November 17 (1900-2300 GMT)
James Wade v Josh Rock
Luke Humphries v Gary Anderson
Best of 31 Legs