Grand Slam of Darts 2021 - Preview

The 2021 Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts gets underway at the Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton on Saturday as Jose de Sousa begins his title defence.

The 15th staging of the tournament will feature a 32-player field, featuring TV event winners and qualifiers, competing for 550,000 pound in prize money from November 13-21. With the players split into eight groups of four for the first round stage, the round-robin action begins with a double session on Saturday November 13.

De Sousa's defence of the Eric Bristow Trophy will begin with a tie against Canada's Matt Campbell in the opening match of Group F, which also features Luke Humphries and Mensur Suljovic. The Portuguese maverick famously landed his first televised PDC title in the event 12 months ago when he defeated James Wade in the final of the tournament which was played behind closed doors in Coventry.

"Winning the Grand Slam last year was a dream for me," De Sousa reflected. "It was the tournament where I moved to the next level in the PDC, I showed I can do it in one of the biggest tournaments in the world. "It gave me a lot of confidence, and got me into the Premier League where I also did well. "I think I am a better all-round player now than I was last year, and I am looking forward to trying to keep hold of my trophy."

De Sousa's opener will take place in Saturday's evening session which will see Groups E-H in action, while players in Groups A-D will begin their title challenges in the afternoon session.
Gerwyn Price - the 2018 and 2019 winner at the Aldersley Leisure Village - headlines the afternoon's action as he takes on Northern Ireland's Nathan Rafferty in their opening Group A tie.
Premier League and World Grand Prix champion Jonny Clayton plays Rusty-Jake Rodriguez in their Group B opener, after the Austrian topped the PDC Unicorn European Development Tour rankings to secure his qualification on Saturday. Clayton comes into the event as one of the favourites to take the title, having racked up his fourth TV title of the year at the World Series of Darts Finals in Amsterdam just under two weeks ago.

"I'm just going to come into this tournament like I do all the others, though there's maybe a bit more pressure on me in this one," Clayton admitted. "I don't want to change what's working for me. I try not to overthink darts, I always say 'if it's meant to be, it's meant to be'. "It's nice to look back and think about what a year it's been so far, but that's as much as I think about it, I always look ahead to the next tournament. "The way I'm playing now, I feel confident that I can win the Grand Slam for the first time."

The opening session will also see three-time Grand Slam runner-up James Wade take on Jim Williams in their Group C opener, before European Championship winner Rob Cross meets Boris Krcmar.
Chris Dobey, a late replacement for Dimitri Van den Bergh, and reigning World Youth Champion Bradley Brooks are also in action.

The evening session sees Groups E-H commence their challenge for the title, with De Sousa up against Matt Campbell in Group F. The night is headlined by clashes between Michael van Gerwen and Lisa Ashton, and Peter Wright's meeting with Fallon Sherrock as the two PDC Women's Series qualifiers take on two of the sport' superstars.
Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld also makes his Grand Slam of Darts return in Saturday's final game, as he faces Michael Smith. Van Barneveld has fond memories of the event, having claimed the title in 2012, and is excited to be competing in his first Grand Slam since 2018.

"It is good to be back and see all the familiar faces, and I must say, the level of this sport is unbelievably good at the moment," said Van Barneveld. "I am really over the moon to be back in the Grand Slam of Darts, I was really happy. "I can't wait to play on stage again with this amazing crowd, and I am going to do my very best."

Sunday's second group matches will see Saturday's winning players face each other and the losing players also meet, before the final group matches are held on Monday and Tuesday. The top two players from each group will progress to the knockout stage of the event, with the last 16 action beginning on Wednesday November 17 and running through to the semi-finals and final on Sunday November 21.

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