Eight Gain Grand Slam Spots

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2022 UK Open champion Danny Noppert and Australia’s former World Cup winner Damon Heta were among the eight players to secure their place in the 2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts at Friday’s Tour Card Holder Qualifier.

The Barnsley Metrodome played host to the Tour Card Holder Qualifier to follow the conclusion of the PDC ProTour season earlier this week, with 101 players competing for the remaining eight spots in the £650,000 event.

World number seven Noppert – a winner of two Players Championship titles in 2023 – was the highest-ranked player in action in Barnsley, and he navigated his way through the field to seal a fifth Grand Slam appearance.

The Dutch number two followed up a whitewash win over Robert Owen with victories against Rusty-Jake Rodriguez and last year’s quarter-finalist Alan Soutar, who averaged 110 earlier in the afternoon.

Noppert will be joined in Wolverhampton by Australian number one Heta, who averaged 103 to edge out a spirited Connor Scutt in their decisive last 16 showdown.

Heta – also a two-time winner on the Players Championship circuit in 2023 – kicked off his campaign with a five-leg demolition of Jeffrey de Zwaan, before sweeping aside Germany’s Daniel Klose in the last 32.

Stephen Bunting fired in a sensational 111.06 average to dispatch Martin Schindler and confirm his Grand Slam of Darts return, having averaged 98 and 101 in earlier wins over Luc Peters and Arron Monk.

Ryan Searle recovered from 4-1 down to deny Rowby-John Rodriguez in a dramatic last 16 contest, surviving multiple match darts against the Austrian and Richie Burnett en route to qualification.

Ireland’s Steve Lennon will make a third Grand Slam appearance later this month, averaging 106 in his last 16 success against James Wilson, following wins against Daryl Gurney and America’s Jules van Dongen.

Northern Irish duo Brendan Dolan and Nathan Rafferty also won through Friday’s qualifier, with Dolan defeating Jamie Hughes, Mensur Suljovic and Richard Veenstra to progress.

Rafferty, meanwhile, survived match darts in his last 16 encounter against former European Champion Ross Smith to secure qualification for a third consecutive year.

The last remaining spot in the 32-player field belongs to Martijn Kleermaker, who saw off 2014 semi-finalist Kim Huybrechts in the final round of qualification to clinch his Grand Slam debut.

The Dutch star began his campaign with victory over Keegan Brown, before defeating former TV title winners Simon Whitlock and Dimitri Van den Bergh to set up his showdown against Huybrechts.

Van den Bergh was among a host of high-profile names to miss out on qualification, with Ross Smith, Gurney and German duo Gabriel Clemens and Schindler also falling short.

Former Grand Slam champions Raymond van Barneveld, Jose de Sousa and Scott Waites were beaten in the last 64, while last year’s quarter-finalist Joe Cullen pulled out of Friday’s event due to personal reasons.

Elsewhere, Darius Labanauskas landed a nine-darter in his opening round victory against Darren Webster, only for Suljovic to end the Lithuanian’s qualification hopes in the last 64.

Reigning champion Michael Smith will headline the 32-player field at the Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts, which also includes three-time winners Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price.

World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall – a runner-up to Smith last year – will also feature, alongside the likes of World Grand Prix champion Luke Humphries and newly crowned European Champion Peter Wright.

The 2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts will take place at WV Active Aldersley from November 11-19, as the sport’s biggest names battle it out for the coveted Eric Bristow Trophy.

The draw for the Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts will be held on Monday November 6.

2023 Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts
Tour Card Holder Qualifier
Barnsley Metrodome, Friday November 3
Last 16
Danny Noppert 5-2 Alan Soutar
Stephen Bunting 5-2 Martin Schindler
Ryan Searle 5-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Nathan Rafferty 5-4 Ross Smith
Damon Heta 5-4 Connor Scutt
Steve Lennon 5-2 James Wilson
Martijn Kleermaker 5-2 Kim Huybrechts
Brendan Dolan 5-3 Richard Veenstra

Qualifying Players
Invited in the following order
TV Event Finalists, then European Tour Winners, then Players Championship winners (up to 16)
Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen
Nathan Aspinall
Luke Humphries
Chris Dobey
Andrew Gilding
Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price
Jonny Clayton
Rob Cross
James Wade
Gary Anderson
Dave Chisnall
Krzysztof Ratajski
Ricardo Pietreczko
Dirk van Duijvenbode

PDC Tour Card Holder Qualifiers
Danny Noppert
Stephen Bunting
Ryan Searle
Nathan Rafferty
Damon Heta
Steve Lennon
Martijn Kleermaker
Brendan Dolan

Additional Qualifiers
Josh Rock – 2022 World Youth Champion
Nathan Girvan – 2022 World Youth Championship runner-up
Berry van Peer – 2023 Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner
Gian van Veen – 2023 Development Tour Order of Merit winner
Beau Greaves – 2023 Women’s World Matchplay winner
Fallon Sherrock – 2023 Women’s Series Order of Merit qualifier
Haruki Muramatsu – 2023 PDC Asian Championship winner
Stowe Buntz – 2023 CDC Continental Cup winner


Images: PDC


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