After a gruelling week at the PDC Winter Series, Ryan will be raring to go for the PDC Grand Slam of Darts. Having narrowly missed out on an automatic qualification spot last Monday, after suffering a 5-1 defeat in the quarter-finals to Justin Pipe, Ryan had to do it the hard way. With a quarter-final and
L16 placing over the course of the PDC Winter Series, Ryan managed to sneak his way into the Grand Slam, having won Players Championship 9 pre-lockdown, finishing as the second highest ranked player on the Pro Tour Order of Merit, who wasn’t already qualified for the tournament. Confusing, I know.
A tough, yet winnable group for Ryan, as he was drawn in Group B. Sharing his group, as the top seed, was former back-to-back PDC World Champion, Gary Anderson, who qualified through being the runner-up in the 2020 PDC World Matchplay, as he fell to a 18-10 defeat to an impressive Dimitri van den Bergh. Also drawn in Ryan’s group was the Australian star Simon Whitlock, who qualified through the PDC Grand Slam qualifiers, defeating Loxley’s own Matthew Edgar in the quarter-finals to secure his place in the competition. The PDC World Youth championship finalist, Adam Gawlas, joined them in the group, as he features in his first ever televised darts competition.
It was Simon Whitlock up first for Ryan, with ‘Heavy Metal’ debuting his new Loxley darts in a televised tournament for the first time. A 140 to start, as Ryan cruised to a finish in the first leg, despite a well timed 180 from his opponent. A confident hold from Simon allowed him to hold throw to take the second leg, before punishing missed doubles from Ryan to break throw and race into a 2-1 lead. For the fourth leg in a row, Ryan opens up with a two-treble visit, with three treble-less darts from Simon allowing Ryan to break straight back, and level the match. A fantastic 96 checkout from Simon, utilising two D19’s, results in a third consecutive break of throw, before Ryan finds D5 to make it four, and level the match at 3-3. A best of 3 leg match, with Ryan having the darts should it go to a deciding leg. A fifth straight break of throw allows Simon to go within one leg of the match, with a poor last leg from ‘Heavy Metal’ allowing ‘The Wizard’ to take the points and claim a 5-3 win.
A tough clash with young star Adam Gawlas to follow, with both players knowing defeat will all-but see them knocked out of the 2020 PDC Grand Slam of Darts. Ryan dominated the opening few legs, going 7 darts deep into a 9 darter before missing the T20 with his second dart of the third visit. Racing into a 3-0 lead, averaging nearly 117, Ryan looked set to see the game out – yet things don’t always go as planned. An inspired comeback from Adam allowed him to imitate Ryan and rattle off three consecutive legs of his own, to level the match once again. The pair traded holds of throw in the next two legs, with a fantastic 100 checkout from Gawlas forcing a deciding leg in a truly nail-biting encounter. An unfortunate bounce-out denied Ryan a chance at a 156 checkout for the match, scoring just 80, and allowing Adam a shot at 107 for the match. Wiring D16, Ryan was allowed a second chance for the match, finding D20 with his last dart in hand to secure a 5-4 victory, giving him a fighting chance against Gary Anderson tomorrow, as he looks to secure his place in the knockout rounds.
A true crunch match for both players, as they looked to join Simon Whitlock in qualifying for the knockout round. Both Ryan and Gary have enjoyed a near identical PDC Grand Slam campaign, with both players suffering a defeat to Simon Whitlock, and both defeating Adam Gawlas. Ryan currently sits higher in the table, thanks to his greater leg difference, yet that will prove irrelevant as it is simply winner-takes-all in this Group B clash. Gary started the match the stronger of the two, rattling off the first two legs in quick succession, with the pair trading 180’s towards the latter stage of the second leg. Ryan got his first leg on the board in the third, before Gary held his throw to restore his two leg advantage. Two more holds took the match to 4-2, putting the Scotsman just one leg away from the knockout rounds, with Ryan knowing he must win the last three legs if he wishes to progress. An impressive hold of throw, with two 180’s from Ryan, helped him close the gap, yet Gary proved too strong, seeing out the eighth leg to seal a 5-3 win. Impressive doubling from Anderson, hitting 5 doubles from his 6 attempts. Despite averaging 102.06, there was little Ryan could do, as he unfortunately finished third in the group.
Positives to take from an impressive few days, especially off the back of a draining and challenging week at the PDC Winter Series. Time for rest and practice now, as he prepares for the upcoming PDC Players Championship finals, where he has been drawn to face current PDC World Matchplay champion Dimitri van den Bergh in the opening round.
A televised debut for Ryan’s new darts as well, which are available to purchase from the Loxley website for just £49.95, as well as the shirts Ryan wore throughout the tournament, which likewise can be purchased through the Loxley website for just £34.95, or signed for £44.95.
Author – Joe Reid