The 2020 Grand Slam of Darts was on Tuesday night (24th November 2020) and a new name was added to the trophy. For the first time since the inaugural event in 2007, won by Phil “The Power” Taylor, a debutant won the tournament. A little known Portuguese, known as “The Special One”, went all the way to the title by defeating Simon “The Wizard” Whitlock in the semi-final (who had beaten World number 1 Michael “Mighty Mike” van Gerwen) and James “The Machine” Wade in the final. A man who was beaten in the first round of the World Championships in each of the last two years has come out of nowhere in 2020 to claim the final major before the World Championship begins in December.
The tournament is an all legs format, starting with 8 groups of 4 players in a round robin format playing first to 5 legs. Reigning BDO World Champions Wayne “Yank” Warren and Mikuru “Miracle” Suzuki both lost all 3 group matches and were comfortably below the required standard (Warren averaging 79.2 and Suzuki averaging 82.1), although in her first match, Suzuki did push arguably the most in-form player, Gerwyn “The Iceman” Price, to a last leg decider and averaging an impressive 87.27 in that match. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for her, losing 1 and 0 in the final two matches.
The group stage was as far as reigning World Champion Peter “Snakebite” Wright and reigning Premier League champion Glen “Duzza” Durrant would go in the tournament. Durrant lost all 3 matches to finish bottom but Peter Wright was eliminated by a single leg after averaging just (for a World Champion!) 83.12 in his 5-2 defeat to Devon “The African Warrior” Peterson. Eventual Champion Jose de Sousa came 2nd in his group behind former PDC Youth World Championship winner Michael “Bully Boy” Smith, who famously defeated Phil Taylor at the 2014 PDC World Championship (hitting Bullseye for a 128 finish to win the match!).
The 2nd round pitted former World Champions Michael van Gerwen and Gary “The Flying Scotsman” Anderson in a race to 10 legs, but the match wasn’t as competitive as expected with a 10-2 hammering dished out to an out of form Anderson. The only match to go the distance was Michael Smith’s match against the 2018 PDC World Champion Rob “Voltage” Cross. Smith got the job done in the decider, winning 10-9 with a 97.46 average. The only arguable surprise of the 2nd round was Nathan “The Asp” Aspinall defeating Gerwyn Price 10-8, but even that was not too much of a shock considering it was the 6th seed defeating the 3rd.
The tournament really took off in the Quarter Finals – of the 124 possible legs across the 4 matches, 121 legs were played. Simon Whitlock defeated World Number 1 van Gerwen (despite being out averaged 100.32 to 95.97, although Whitlock did hit a record 20 maximums (180) in a single match. 2-time former PDC Youth World Championship, and reigning World Matchplay Champion, Dimitri “The DreamMaker” Van den Bergh also needed a last leg shootout to beat Nathan Aspinall. Jose de Sousa defeated Michael Smith 16-14 and in the most one sided match of the round, James Wade defeated Australian Damon “The Heat” Heta, 16-13.
The semi-finals were equally close although all the drama was saved for the second of the two. Van den Bergh was never behind against James Wade until the final dart of the match, which sealed a win for James Wade with the throw (meaning he threw first in the leg). Van den Bergh started brilliantly and raced into various leads but from 13-9 up he really ought to have closed out the match but “The Machine” earnt his nickname through being totally unflustered by the conditions or circumstances of a match. He kept his level consistent and capitalised on the nerves from the young Belgian to steal the match, 16-15. In the first semi-final, de Sousa won 16-12 against Simon Whitlock, who lost in the round following a victory over van Gerwen for the second time. Whitlock averaged 97.92, up from 95.97 during his win against van Gerwen, but it wasn’t enough and de Sousa’s smile grew wider and wider as the match went on, although he did make a classic counting error nailing a double 8 for a 136 finish, having left 126!
The final started off well for James Wade and catastrophically for de Sousa, who missed 7 darts to win the opening leg before Wade claimed the leg and raced into a 3-leg lead. He finally hit his desired double at the 11th time of asking to break the throw and then held with a 10-dart leg to go into the first break just one leg behind despite the nervy start. De Sousa then started to pull away and he sealed the victory with a spectacular 158 finish, pinning treble 20 twice before hitting the double 19 and cueing the celebrations. For James Wade it was a third defeat in the final of this tournament, but it could be worse – he lost having led 8-0 in the 2010 final against BDO entrant Scotty “2 Hotty” Waites.
James Wade remains stuck on 9 Major titles and will have another go at the PDC World Championship beginning in December but all eyes will be on reigning World Champion Peter Wright and the biggest question really is – what colour will Peter Wright style his hair this year?!