James Wade made it 11 consecutive TV wins as he started his bid for Grand Slam glory in some style.
On the opening day in Wolverhampton, there were also wins for fellow Unicorn stars Gary Anderson, Michael Smith, Keegan Brown, Ian White and Dimitri van den Bergh.
But Wade was supreme again....full of confidence and belief after those back-to-back triumphs at the European Champion and World Series Finals.
He brushed aside Dutchman Wesley Harms 5-0 with a 99 average. Wade hit four 180s in the opening three legs as he took control and never looked back. He is clearly in the mood for another big TV title.
Gary Anderson got off to a winning start despite being far from his best. He struggled early on against German Michael Unterbuchner after seeing several darts hit the floor. But the Scot found his range and from 1-2 down, he reeled off four straight legs including an 11 darter.
In the same Group D we saw a stand out performance from Ian White. A superb 104.64 average as he completed a 5-1 victory over Steve Hine.
Anderson and White will clash in a huge match on Sunday.
Michael Smith got a case of the jitters. With those missed match darts to win the World Series Finals in Vienna still fresh in the memory, he made hard work of beating World Masters winner Adam Smith-Neale.
Smith, who of course has just agreed a new contract with Unicorn, was coasting as he hit four 180s to open up a 4-0 lead. But then his troubles started as he missed an incredible 10 match darts to win 5-0. His opponent hit back and then after Smith had missed five more match darts, Smith-Neale nailed 124 on the bull to make it 4-3.
But the Unicorn man then hit a 6th maximum and finally hit ‘tops’ to claim the win.
Dimitri van den Bergh clinched a crucial 5-3 victory over Grand Slam qualifier Ryan Searle. He hit two 180s, two 82 finishes, a vital 120 check-out to break throw and claim a big win.
Keegan Brown came from behind to beat Mark Webster in a deciding leg. The Welshman led 3-1 but the Unicorn man stormed back. A magnificent 153 finish was a game changer and he will be eyeing another good Grand Slam run.
But Mark McGeeney’s televised debut in Unicorn colours ended in disappointment on the opening day. And he will rue missed chances....20 of them in all.
The BDO No.2 started the match with a 177 and a 180 in the opening leg against Rob Cross but then missed NINE darts to win it and that set the tone. In fact, he had darts at a double in six of the seven legs but could only convert two.
Grand Slam Day 1 results:
Michael van Gerwen 5-1 Gary Robson
Jonny Clayton 5-2 Joe Murnan
Michael Smith 5-3 Adam Smith-Neale
Raymond van Barneveld 3-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
James Wade 5-0 Wesley Harms
Keegan Brown 5-4 Mark Webster
Gary Anderson 5-2 Michael Unterbuchner
Ian White 5-1 Steve Hine
Peter Wright 5-4 Jim Williams
Max Hopp 5-3 Josh Payne
Simon Whitlock 1-5 Glen Durrant
Gerwyn Price 5-2 Andrew Gilding
Mensur Suljovic 5-2 Scott Mitchell
Stephen Bunting 5-3 Martin Schindler
Rob Cross 5-2 Mark McGeeney
Dimitri van den Bergh 5-3 Ryan Searle
Story from STUART PYKE at the Grand Slam
Photo courtesy Chris Dean / PDC