2023 Grand Slam of Darts Final Preview: A New Champion Is Confirmed!

Published on 19 November 2023 at 13:00

At the 2023 Grand Slam of Darts, one of James Wade, Luke Humphries, Stephen Bunting or Rob Cross will lift the prestigious Eric Bristow trophy on Sunday night in Wolverhampton, confirming a new name will be added to the list of winners of the tournament. 


James Wade enters the semi-finals as by far the most experienced player left in the competition. Having finished as a runner three times in his career, 2023 might be Wade's best shot yet at glory and capturing one of the few majors he hasn't actually won yet. The Machine has enjoyed a rollercoaster of a tournament: starting off with a narrow loss to Krzysztof Ratajski on the opening night, a more decisive win over Nathan Girvan left Wade in the precarious position of needing to beat an undefeated Michael Smith (the winner of the previous year's Grand Slam and World Number One) in order to qualify for the knockouts. Producing a vintage performance and masterclass on the doubles, Wade dispatched Smith 5-1 to make the last 16 once again. 


Wade's run in the knockouts tells a similar story: pushed to the wire by a resurgent Chris Dobey, Wade's clinical finishing once more gave him the edge as he made it through 10-8. And then in perhaps the game of the tournament so far, the 40-year-old produced a monumental comeback and surviving multiple match darts to defeat Josh Rock 16-15. Epitomising 'trebles for show, doubles for dough', it'll be perhaps the best run in the tournament's history if Wade manages to win it all in Wolverhampton this year. 


The only seed remaining in the competition, Luke Humphries is the in-form player in world darts, and the clear favourite to win this year's Grand Slam. Cruising through the 'Group of Death' against Steve Lennon (5-2), Gary Anderson (5-1) and Dirk Van Duijvenbode (5-1), with maximum points, 'Cool Hand' has clearly kept some of the momentum from his Grand Prix triumph just a couple months ago. 


A semi-finalist in 2022, Humphries will be looking to make it one further this year. After a tough but convincing win against good friend Ryan Searle, a rematch against Gary Anderson in the quarter finals saw the Flying Scotsman race into a lead, before a fantastic run of form saw Humphries do just enough to edge out Anderson once again, this time 16-14. It's important to note that when Humphries and Wade met in last month's European Championship, it was Wade who in fact won en-route to the final. Will history repeat itself?


Read More: 2023 Grand Slam of Darts: Group Stage Review


Stephen Bunting, in arguably the form of his career, has been one of the most impressive players at this year's tournament as he looks to win his first major on the PDC circuit. The former BDO World Champion did taste defeat against Stowe Buntz in the group stage, but tense wins over Dave Chisnall and the seeded Peter Wright was enough to see the Bullet fly through to the knockout stage. 


But Bunting only got better as the tournament got on, as both Danny Noppert and the aforementioned Buntz felt the full force of Bunting, as the 38-year-old steamrolled to successive dominant wins 10-4 and 16-8 over his opponents respectively. Coming into fine form at just the right time, is 2023 finally Bunting's year?


Standing in the way of the former World Champion is the 2018 PDC World Champion himself: Rob Cross. Coming in second in his tough group behind Michael Van Gerwen, Cross needed a strong performance against the 'Queen of the Palace' Fallon Sherrock to assure his progression to the last 16. 


What should have been two tough knockout stage matches for Cross turned out to be anything but difficult for the 33-year-old. 'Voltage' surged past last year's finalist Nathan Aspinall, before producing the most dominant performance of the all the semi-finalists in his 16-6 demolition of Damon Heta, who had done Cross an earlier favour by defeat Michael Van Gerwen in the last 16. 


Sunday's semis and final are an arduous test for the winners, having to win 16 legs in back-to-back games on the same day make the Grand Slam a true test of endurance and one of the toughest tournaments on the circuit. Whoever wins the tournament for the first time in 2023 will truly go down as a worthy winner in Wolverhampton, and in the case of Luke Humphries in particular, a real favourite to win the World Championship like Michael Smith last year.


By Jaspar Shepherdson 

(@jasparshepmedia on X/Twitter and Instagram)

Image Credit: Sven Mandel

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