Grand Slam of Darts 2015 – Saturday Preview

Saturday night at the Grand Slam brings the two quarter-finals from the top half of the draw.
With Michael van Gerwen, Kim Huybrechts, Michael Smith and Adrian Lewis all in action we should see some rapid darts, high scoring, plenty of 180’s and some high checkouts.

Here to help guide you through the action are my previews.

Smith vs Lewis

Michael Smith
• Smith is through the quarter-finals at the Grand Slam for the second year in a row and will be hoping for a better showing than last year when he lost 16-3 to Phil Taylor at this stage. In that match they were tied at 3-3, Taylor was to win the final 13 legs of the match with Smith only having darts at a double in 2 of those 13 legs.
• Coming into the quarter-finals Smith had won 80% of his winning legs in 15 darts or less, this was the highest total of any quarter-finalist.
• He has a 6-3 winning record against Lewis over their previous matches; Smith has won 4 of their last 5 encounters (all of those coming since June 2014). The only time they have met in a match on the big TV stage was earlier in the week when Smith defeated Lewis 5-3 in their group match. They have never played in a format of over longer than best of 11 legs though.

Adrian Lewis
• Lewis has been in the quarter-finals at the Grand Slam on two previous occasions (2011 and 2013), both times he has won his quarter-final match and lost in the semi-final to the eventual champion (Phil Taylor).
• The last time he was in a TV quarter-final was only earlier this month at the European Championships where he beat Phil Taylor 10-9.
• Lewis had the highest tournament checkout percentage of any of the 8 quarter-finalists with a 52.3% success rate on his doubles. His lowest checkout % came in his match against Smith in the group stage when he was 33% on his doubles.
• Lewis has actually only won 50% of legs on his own throw this week, this compares to winning 65% of legs where he opponent has thrown first.

van Gerwen vs Huybrechts

Michael van Gerwen
• MVG has reached this stage of the tournament averaging nearly 106 (he hasn’t averaged less than 102 in any of his four matches). He has only dropped 6 legs and has only had a total of 15 attempts at a double against him all week.
• He has only been past the quarter-final stage at the Grand Slam on one occasion. That was in 2012 when he reached the final. Last year he lost to Kim Huybrechts 16-10 in the quarters, having trailed 12-3 at one stage.
• He has won his last 11 PDC TV ranking quarter-final matches, going back to the 2013 World Grand Prix. The Grand Slam wasn’t a ranking event last year so not included in that stat.
• It total van Gerwen has played 25 matches in PDC TV ranking tournaments this season and has only lost 1 (the final of the Grand Prix to Thornton).
• Although van Gerwen lost to Huybrechts at the Grand Slam last year he has avenged that defeat on more than one occasion, beating Huybrechts in both the UK Open and World Grand Prix this year (9-2 at the UK Open and 3 sets to 0 at the World Grand Prix).

Kim Huybrechts
• Huybrechts has now made it through to the quarter-finals of the Grand Slam for the last 3 years (in each year he has competed in the event). He hasn’t made the quarter-finals in any other PDC TV major tournaments during this time. The previous time he did was in December 2012 when he reached the Players Championship finals.
• In his two previous quarter finals at the Grand Slam he faced Lewis in 2013 and van Gerwen in 2014. In his match against Lewis he never really recovered from going 6-1 down at the start of the match, he did get back within 2 legs at 8-6 down before Lewis pulled away to lead 13-7 and Huybrechts eventually lost the match 16-11.
• The win against van Gerwen last year at this stage was the only previous time they have played each other over this length of match. Huybrechts won 11 legs out of 12 after being 2-1 down to lead 12-3. It is hard to remember in recent times anyone having such a run against van Gerwen. Although van Gerwen did rally a little, a crucial 9 dart finish by Huybrechts (which came on the MVG throw) came at the right time and eventually Huybrechts won 16-10. In the semi-finals his run was ended by Chisnall in a last leg decider.

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