Grand Slam of Darts 2015 – Semi-final Preview

After just over a week of darting action the Grand Slam of Darts reaches a conclusion today, with the semi-finals and final all played on what will be an unmissable day of darts.

Here are my previews for the two semi-finals.

van Gerwen vs Smith

Michael van Gerwen
• MVG qualified for the semi-finals with some very impressive numbers. His tournament average is just under 107, he has checked out 52.6% on his doubles, despite playing the fewest legs of any of the semi-finalists he has scored the most 180’s. He has also only conceded 10 legs in total.
• The numbers don’t end there though. He has won 92% of legs where he has thrown first and he has had a dart at a double in 90% of the overall legs he has played at this year’s tournament.
• This is his second appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final, his solitary appearance was in 2012 when he defeated Dean Winstanley to set up a final showdown with van Barneveld.
• A win here would take MVG through to his 5th PDC TV ranking tournament final of the year (from 5 played). He has only lost in 1 of his last 8 appearances in a PDC TV ranking tournament semi-final (that was at the World Championships against Anderson).

Michael Smith
• Smith will be competing in his first PDC TV semi-final when he takes to the stage against Michael van Gerwen, the big bonus for Smith is that this year the Grand Slam is a ranking tournament.
• Smith has the lowest checkout percentage of the four semi-finalists, hitting 38% of his double attempts. On the plus side he has scored an impressive 19 180s combined during his Last 16 and Quarter-final matches.
• Although Smith has a losing record against MVG in their previous encounters he did win their last meeting in the final of the European Darts Trophy in September. Smith and van Gerwen have never played on the big TV stage but they have met twice on the Euro Tour stage which is a similar environment, in both matches Smith has beaten van Gerwen (both in the final of the European Darts Trophy). They have never played over this long format though.

van Barneveld vs Taylor

Raymond van Barneveld
• Barney is appearing in his 3rd Grand Slam semi-final, and his first since winning the title back in 2012, in that semi-final he defeated Andy Hamilton 16-10 and then went onto beat van Gerwen in the final. His defeat was to Taylor in 2009 (16-6).
• He has lost in his last 6 PDC TV ranking tournament semi-finals; this goes all the way back to the World Matchplay in 2010 when he reached the final. He has of course reached finals in the Grand Slam, Premier League and at The Masters but none of these counted towards the ranking system.
• RVB has a losing record against Taylor overall but has beaten him in 3 of the 4 matches they have played this season, including the famous game in the Premier League where Taylor averaged over 115 and still lost to van Barneveld.

Phil Taylor
• On his way to this stage of the tournament Taylor has a tournament average of over 100 with over 55% on the doubles also. In his quarter-final win against Thornton he hit the finishing double with his first dart on 13 occasions in his 16 winning legs.
• Taylor has now played a total of 29 knockout matches at the Grand Slam since the tournament started in 2007. He has won a total of 27 matches losing only twice.
• Taylor has won all 6 of his previous Grand Slam semi-finals, all on his way to winning the tournament; he defeated van Barneveld 16-6 in the semi-finals of the 2009 Grand Slam. In his 6 semi-finals he has twice beaten an opponent on more than one occasion (Mervyn King in 08,14 and Adrian Lewis in 11,13) will van Barneveld be the 3rd player who Taylor beats twice in a Grand Slam semi?
• Taylor and Barney have actually met only 3 times in the last 5 years in PDC TV major ranking tournaments (Twice at the World Championship and once at the Players Championship finals), Taylor has won all three of those matches.

Don’t forget to check me on out on twitter and to call back here later for my final preview!

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