PRICE AIMING FOR BOYLESPORTS GRAND SLAM TREBLE AHEAD OF ANNUAL CROSS-CODE EVENT
The 2020 BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts begins at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Monday as Gerwyn Price the begins his bid for a third consecutive title.
The 14th staging of the tournament will see a 32-player field, comprising PDC event winners and qualifiers along with two BDO players, competing for 550,000 pound in prize money from November 16-24.
The group stage will take place across the opening four days, as the players compete in a round-robin format.
The Welshman is rated as the pre-tournament favourite with sponsor BoyleSports to lift the Eric Bristow Trophy for the third time in as many years.
The world number three has been drawn in Group G alongside World Cup team-mate Jonny Clayton, Grand Slam debutant Ryan Joyce and Japan's reigning Women's World Champion Suzuki, who he meets in Monday's opening ties.
Price comes into the tournament in red-hot form, having lifted the World Cup of Darts for the first time alongside Clayton last weekend before picking up his eighth title of the year at the Winter Series on Thursday.
"I'm in some good form off the back of winning the World Grand Prix and World Cup. Hopefully I can have another good run here, I'm looking forward to it," said Price.
"I like the favourite tag. It gives you a little boost and a bit of extra confidence. It shows that not only am I confident, but other people are confident in my ability as well.
"Hopefully I can go out and play like a favourite.
"To win three in a row is something that has only been achieved by Phil and Michael so it would be nice to make a bit of history and join them."
Three-time champion Van Gerwen, who last picked up the title in 2017, will be hoping to pick up his first TV title since March.
The world number one will take on qualifier Adam Hunt in his Group A opener, with debutant Joe Cullen and top-ranked German ace Gabriel Clemens facing off in their group's other tie.
Van Gerwen was almost forced to withdraw from the World Cup of Darts due to a back problem last weekend, but the Dutchman has revealed he is now fit and raring to go.
"Everything is fine now with my back. The doctors said I'm fine to play," Van Gerwen explained. "It's important to feel fit and ready to play during these busy times
"The last two years Gerwyn Price did phenomenally well in this tournament. You always want to win any tournament you play in so of course you're disappointed when you don't win.
"But the most important thing is to make sure you work hard to come back stronger. I'm making big steps in the last few weeks and I'm seeing the brighter side of my game again."
Four-time Women's World Champion Lisa Ashton will return for a second successive appearance having come through the Women's Qualifier last month.
Ashton will play World Cup finalist Michael Smith in her opening tie, with Poland's Krzysztof Ratajski and Portugal's Jose De Sousa being their Group C opponents.
Since last year's event, the 50-year-old became the first woman to win a PDC Tour Card in January and, having enjoyed a promising first year on the professional circuit, Ashton feels better placed to make an impression this year.
"It's always a dream come true to play in a the big PDC events, so to play in the Grand Slam back-to-back, I couldn't ask for anything better," said Ashton.
"I'm not here to make the numbers up. I played well last time but hopefully I can improve my results this time around.
"It's going to be different playing without a crowd for the first time on TV, but I've played in quiet atmospheres before in the BDO so hopefully I can draw on my experiences there.
"Playing the top players week-in, week-out has without doubt raised my game.
"The experience of playing on the PDC tour has been brilliant. It's improved me as a player from this time last year. Hopefully I can show that improvement with a good run this week."
World Champion Peter Wright has been drawn in Group E along with World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode, Ian White and Devon Petersen.
Two-time runner-up James Wade headlines a tough Group F alongside Premier League champion Glen Durrant, Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena - who qualified from the PDC Winter Series Order of Merit on Saturday - and Australia's fast-emerging Damon Heta.
Number eight seed Gary Anderson, a double World Champion, will be up against Simon Whitlock Ryan Searle and Czech Republic teenager Adam Gawlas in Group B.
2018 World Champion Rob Cross is joined in Group D by Dave Chisnall, Luke Humphries and Justin Pipe, while Nathan Aspinall is the Group H seed alongside World Matchplay winner Dimitri Van den Bergh, Ricky Evans and BDO Champion Wayne Warren.
Monday's winning players in each group will meet on Tuesday, while the two losing players also clash.
The third games in the group stage will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, with the top two players from each group progressing to the knockout stages, which begin on Friday and run through to Tuesday's final.