16 Nov, 2020
Events

Team Target are sending six players to the Grand Slam of Darts this year, which takes place behind closed doors at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. The tournament format has been altered slightly for 2020 with only two BDO representatives, but Target's Mikuru Suzuki features among them as the reigning Ladies World Champion.

All six of our stars have played at the event before, with Glen Durrant the top performer in recent years following his semi-final appearance 12 months ago. "Duzza" will hope to better that run in a venue where he has good memories, having been crowned Premier League champion in October.

Here we lay out how the draw has gone for Team Target and the prospects of success for each of our players.

Rob Cross

World ranking: 5

Group: D (Dave Chisnall, Luke Humphries, Justin Pipe)

Best Grand Slam run: Quarter-final (2017)

Rob Cross is not playing poorly, but he is playing inconsistently. Of all the big names in the sport right now, "Voltage" has perhaps had the strangest 2020 so far in terms of performances on the dart board. There have been highs: a nine darter, a final on the Pro Tour, and a runner-up spot at the World Series Finals. However, he comes into this year's Grand Slam after a disappointing Winter Series, with only £2,000 in ranking money won (while missing the final event).

Unlike most players, Cross is able to win big titles without playing his very best - he did so at the European Championship and the World Matchplay. Cross has never failed to get out of his group in his three appearances at the event, and he is joint-favourite with Chisnall to top Group D, but the world number five will not view simply reaching the knockout rounds as a success - he wants more.

Glen Durrant

World ranking: 13

Group: F (James Wade, Damon Heta, Jermaine Wattimena)

Best Grand Slam run: Semi-final (2019)

Glen Durrant has finally climbed his mountain this year and claimed the PDC major title that everyone knew he was capable of winning. As Premier League champion, the expectation was that he could then continue his remarkable progress since switching codes from the BDO. However, his momentum was immediately halted by a positive Covid test, causing him to miss the last European Tour event of the year as well as the European Championship. "Duzza" looked rusty at the Winter Series and called it "the worst week of [his] darting career" - but Glen is often a slave to his emotions.

One disappointing week should not damage his chances of performing well once again at the Slam. Wade, Heta and Wattimena have all produced some excellent displays in recent weeks, so Glen will need to be at his belligerent best on the board to progress, but he has shown repeatedly that once he gets going in a major tournament, there are few better at reaching the latter stages.

Nathan Aspinall

World ranking: 6

Group: H (Dimitri Van den Bergh, Wayne Warren, Ricky Evans)

Best Grand Slam run: Group stage (2016, 2019)

"The Asp" started 2020 brilliantly, but despite reaching the Premier League final last month, his performances since the Covid break have been solid rather than spectacular. That said, he has consistently picked up ranking money to the extent that he will be seeded fourth at the Players Championship Finals.

Nathan has all the ingredients required to win another major title in Coventry, and he is odds-on to produce his best run at the event. Last year saw a straight shootout for the knockout rounds with fellow Target pro Glen Durrant, one which Nathan was disgusted at losing, and he will be focused on putting things right this time around.

The group looks winnable for the former UK Open Champion, despite two reigning major champions being drawn alongside him; but with three titles and a major final to his name already this year, "The Asp" should be the man to fear in Group H.

Ricky Evans

World ranking: 30

Group: H (Nathan Aspinall, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Wayne Warren)

Best Grand Slam run: Group stage (2013)

A return to the Grand Slam after seven years away is a reflection of how Ricky has moved himself up the rankings to join the world's top 32 in recent months, and "Rapid" has consistently been picking up ranking money in 2020 without truly threatening to pick up his first senior title.

Ricky was struggling with toothache during the recent Winter Series, but still produced a couple of ton-plus averages as well as a run to the last 16 in one of the events.

The fastest thrower on the planet is always a thrilling spectacle on televised stages, and he has the capability to reach the knockout stages for the first time in his career. To do that however, he will probably have to win two of his matches - and he has been drawn against three major champions, including fellow Target star Nathan Aspinall. Ricky is guaranteed to be entertaining and could turn out to be an intriguing dark horse in Coventry.

Gabriel Clemens

World ranking: 31

Group: A (Michael van Gerwen, Joe Cullen, Adam Hunt)

Best Grand Slam run: Last 16 (2019)

The bookmakers do not think "The German Giant" will come through a tough group featuring world number one Michael van Gerwen and two-time title winner this year Joe Cullen - but they did not expect him to come through his group on debut last year... and yet he won all three of his games.

Gabriel was only stopped last year in a last leg decider with Target's eventual semi-finalist Glen Durrant, and after a very impressive World Cup run for Germany and some genuinely stunning displays at the Winter Series, it is quite possible that he upsets the odds again this year.

His displays last week in Players Championship 20 (where he averaged 107 over his five matches) suggest that if he gets things right in Coventry, even MvG will struggle to handle him. It has been clear to us for a while now that Clemens is an incredible talent, but now everyone else is being forced to take notice.

Mikuru Suzuki

World ranking: N/A

Group: G (Gerwyn Price, Jonny Clayton, Ryan Joyce)

Best Grand Slam run: Group stage (2019)

"The Miracle" returns to the Grand Slam after successfully defending her BDO Ladies World Championship title in January, and once again faces defending champion Gerwyn Price in the group stages. A succession of averages in the mid-80s saw her depart last year without a win, but not without credit. Mikuru will need to find the extra gears she has shown in the past to progress beyond a very difficult group though.

Price's World Cup winning teammate for Wales Jonny Clayton and title-winner in 2020 Ryan Joyce will both be tough opponents, but they can both be sporadic - potentially creating an opportunity for Suzuki to become the first woman ever to progress through to the knockout rounds of the Slam.

The bookmakers make her the rank outsider at 1500-1 for the title, but she would not need to go all the way and lift the trophy to leave her mark on the tournament.

Event photos © Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Share this Article
Back To Top