Humphries dumps out van Gerwen to book a semifinal date with Aspinall
Humphries dumps out van Gerwen to book a semifinal date with Aspinall.
On a dramatic Saturday night in Wolverhampton, Luke Humphries defeated three-time champion Michael van Gerwen and advanced to the Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts semi-finals.
Humphries, the 2021 UK Open runner-up, advanced to a second televised semi-final with a 16-10 victory over Van Gerwen, who joined reigning champion Gerwyn Price in exiting in the quarter-finals.
Van Gerwen had been unstoppable at Aldersley Leisure Village, but he was outplayed by a rampant Humphries, who averaged 97 despite missing 32 darts at double.
The 27-year-old, who will be a four-time European Tour winner in 2022, also hit eight 180s and three ton-plus finishes to advance to the semi-finals against Nathan Aspinall.
“I just proved again that I can beat the world’s top players,” said Humphries, who is set to rise to fifth on the PDC Order of Merit following the tournament.
“I’ve got good memories of playing Michael. I’ve beaten him in some great games and if you haven’t got that belief, you’ve probably lost before you have got up there.
“It’s a trophy I would love to pick up because it’s one of the toughest to win, and if I could pick that trophy up, I would dedicate it to my Dad, because he’s done so much for me over the years.”
Humphries took an early 4-2 lead after an error-filled start to the match, with the pair missing 26 darts at double in the first six legs.
The contest erupted with an 11-darter from Van Gerwen in leg seven, before Humphries converted sublime 140 and 167 finishes in consecutive legs to extend his lead to 6-3.
In leg 11, the 27-year-old nearly produced another magical moment, wiring the bull for a 170 outshot, only to respond with a 12-darter followed by a two-dart 94 combination to race 9-5 ahead.
Van Gerwen halted his slump in style, producing legs of 12 and 11 darts to cut the deficit in half, but his comeback was cut short when Humphries produced a brilliant 132 on the bull to break straight back
The third seed came perilously close to responding with a magnificent 164 checkout, but after wiring the bull for a show-stopping finish, he could only stand there and watch Humphries extend his lead to 12-8.
Humphries was constantly threatening massive three-figure combinations, and he took advantage of more frailty from the three-time World Champion to move a leg away from glory at 15-10.
Van Gerwen kept his slim hopes alive with a 104 skin-saver, but it was only a temporary reprieve, as Humphries sank tops to seal the deal after Van Gerwen missed the same target to stay alive.
Aspinall shines at the Slam
Humphries will now face former UK Open champion Aspinall for a place in Sunday night’s showpiece after defeating a spirited Alan Soutar.
Soutar defeated Aspinall in their Group E clash last weekend, but the former Premier League runner-up made amends in a tense encounter to win 16-12.
Despite missing 11 darts at double, Aspinall stormed out of the gate, registering three 180s and a 177 in the first three legs to establish a 4-1 lead.
After Aspinall failed to follow up a 107 finish in leg seven with a 112 combination in leg ten, Soutar found his range in the second mini-session and cut the deficit to 6-4.
Following up a ten-darter in leg 12 with back-to-back 14-darters, the Scot levelled the match at seven apiece, having also missed the bull for a 170 checkout during a stunning three-leg spell.
However, Aspinall halted the bleeding with a 13-dart hold before restoring his cushion with a brilliant 142 finish to lead 9-7. He punished the crucial errors from Soutar to make it five legs without reply.
Aspinall edged closer to victory at 14-9 after the next four legs, but Soutar responded with back-to-back legs, crashing in his eighth maximum.
However, Soutar’s carelessness on the outer ring proved to be his undoing throughout the match, and after he missed three darts at double 18 to close the gap to 14-12, Aspinall capitalised to complete a hard-fought victory.
“At the end of that match I was really poor, and I have to improve tomorrow or I’m not going to be winning anything,” conceded Aspinall, who averaged 95 and landed seven maximums.
“I’m into another semi-final though, so I’ve got to take the positives, and I don’t think a big title is too far away.”
Aspinall and Humphries will compete in the afternoon’s second semi-final, while Van Barneveld will face World Championship runner-up Michael Smith in Sunday’s opener.
The semi-finals and final will be played over the best of 31 legs, with the remaining four players vying for the £150,000 grand prize on what promises to be an exciting Finals Day in Wolverhampton.
Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts
Saturday November 19
Nathan Aspinall 16-12 Alan Soutar
Luke Humphries 16-10 Michael van Gerwen
Sunday November 20 (1300 GMT)
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Nathan Aspinall v Luke Humphries
Best of 31 legs
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Van Barneveld/Smith v Aspinall/Humphries