GARY ANDERSON became the first player to secure qualification from the Group Stage of the SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts with a superb 5-3 win over Raymond van Barneveld on Sunday afternoon, as Phil Taylor, James Wade and Robert Thornton remained unbeaten.
PDC World Champion Anderson followed up Saturday's ruthless whitewash of Larry Butler with a sublime performance against 2012 Grand Slam winner van Barneveld.
The Dutchman showed his class with a 105.93 average as he matched the Scot's four 180s, but crucially missed one dart at double 15 to lead 4-3 - with his rival hitting tops to take charge and a 121 finish to seal the win.
Anderson had also finished 86 on the bull during the game and took out five doubles from seven attempts to leave van Barneveld facing a shoot-out against Butler on Monday night where the winner will move through to the last 16.
"It was a battle and Raymond always plays well against me so I'm always happy to win," said Anderson "Barney's a class act and he always has been.
"My scoring's coming back and in the last few months I've been taking out the big finishes. It would be nice to have three wins and I want to keep this going."
Butler had bounced back from his opening-game loss with a narrow 5-4 win over fellow qualifier Andy Boulton, who battled back from 4-1 down to send the game into a decider only to miss tops for the win in leg nine.
"I was up 4-1 but then Andy started playing some phenomenal darts, so it was good to get the last double," said Butler. "He played brilliant darts for those last four legs.
"I think I've got a shot of beating Raymond and I'm really looking forward that one, it's going to be very enjoyable. Raymond's a class act and a great dart player and I'm going to have fun, and something might happen."
Reigning Grand Slam of Darts champion Phil Taylor maintained his fine opening in Wolverhampton with a 5-2 defeat of Robbie Green, posting the event's highest average so far this year at 108.42.
Green responded to finishes of 83 and 125 from Taylor by taking out 81 and double four to share the opening four legs, but the Stoke legend hit a 13-darter to move 3-2 up, broke with a superb 126 checkout and hit scores of 180 and 177 as he sealed the win.
"I think that will probably qualify me but I'm not going to rest on my laurels," said Taylor. "Robbie's a very strong player on his throw and he handled the pressure tremendously.
"I'm enjoying it and I want to go out there and set a little standard tomorrow. The 108 average now is an average average, that's going to be the norm so I want to keep pushing forward."
Taylor's two wins mean he has a foot into the second round ahead of his final group game on Monday against Rowby-John Rodriguez, who overcame Martin Phillips 5-2 in their second game.
Phillips hit a 161 finish in the contest's second leg, but Rodriguez won the next three to take command before sealing two points with a 114 checkout as he bounced back from his opening defeat to Green.
"I played well yesterday but Robbie played well too, and I wanted to keep that going and it's good to win," said Rodriguez. "I practised on my doubles before the game and I felt good about that, and I finished well.
"It's a tough group but I'm looking forward to playing Phil and we'll see what happens tomorrow. He's a legend and it's probably the biggest game of my career so far, but I'll give it my best."
James Wade averaged 105.83 and hit five doubles from eight attempts in his superb 5-1 win over Mark Webster, as the 2010 runner-up remains unbeaten following his opening two matches.
Webster hit two 180s in the first leg, but Wade punished one missed double before capitalising on five further misses to lead 2-0 before pulling away for an impressive win.
"This was a big game and I'm happy," said Wade. "Mark was so close to getting going but didn't quite manage it and I capitalised on that.
"I've added ten points to my average from yesterday but it wasn't about my average but about how it felt, and I felt I played well in patches.
"I've been practising hard to play well and that's starting to shine through. It would be nice to win my group, which I've never done here."
Keegan Brown claimed victory in the other Group F game as he overcame Dutchman Michel van der Horst 5-4 in a deciding leg.
The World Youth Champion took out finishes of 103 and 136 and hit four 180s as he opened up a 4-2 lead, with the qualifier hitting back to force a decider only to miss the bull to snatch victory and allow Brown back in for a 115 checkout.
"The ton-plus checkouts saved me and the win's nice so it's a crunch game against James Wade now," said Brown. "Last year I lost my opening game and reached the quarter-finals, so I know I can do it and I'm looking forward to tomorrow now."
Robert Thornton remains unbeaten in Group G following his 5-2 win over Jonny Clayton, who was unable to repeat the heroics of his opening victory against Terry Jenkins.
Thornton opened up a 3-0 lead before Clayton took out 100 and 96 to reduce the gap, but crucially the Welshman missed the bull to level as Thornton edged the sixth leg and then took out double eight for the victory.
"I'm pleased with that," said Thornton. "I'm doing okay so far and my finishing wasn't too bad there, and I'm happy that I'm hitting the 180s at the right time and with the way my game's going.
"You can't take anything for granted but I've got Terry tomorrow night and another win will put me through, so I'm not going up there to lose. Hopefully it's going to be a cracker of a match."
Jenkins bounced back from his opening defeat with a superb whitewash of Belgium's Geert De Vos, hitting two 180s and a 138 checkout in the 11-minute win to boost his hopes of qualification.
"That was a big win," said the 2007 runner-up. "Before I went up there I said that I've got to try and win 5-0 or 5-1 and not try and let him get too many legs to put me back up the table, but it's still all on for tomorrow.
"I can just get on with it tomorrow - you know where you stand with Robert, you've just got to get up there and whack them in because if you don't you're going to lose."
The Group Stage continues on Sunday night as Groups A-D play their second games at the Wolves Civic.
SINGHA Beer Grand Slam of Darts
Sunday November 8
Groups E-H Second Games
Keegan Brown 5-4 Michel van der Horst
Rowby-John Rodriguez 5-2 Martin Phillips
Andy Boulton 4-5 Larry Butler
Terry Jenkins 5-0 Geert De Vos
Robert Thornton 5-2 Jonny Clayton
Phil Taylor 5-2 Robbie Green
James Wade 5-1 Mark Webster
Gary Anderson 5-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Evening Session (7.30pm-11.30pm)
Groups A-D Second Games
Steve West v Mark Oosterhuis
Ian White v Steve Beaton
Wayne Jones v Andy Fordham
Mervyn King v Scott Mitchell
Adrian Lewis v Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen v Kim Huybrechts
Jelle Klaasen v Martin Adams
Peter Wright v Dave Chisnall
All games are the best of nine legs
Keegan Brown v Michel van der Horst
0-1 - Brown misses the bull, and van der Horst takes out tops to claim the opening leg.
1-1 - The pair trade 180s before Brown finishes 103 on double 18 to break back and level.
1-2 - Brown misses six darts at doubles across three visits to allow van der Horst back from his own double trouble to finish double four as he regains the lead.
2-2 - Brown hits a 180 to leave 63 before finishing the combination to level.
3-2 - The World Youth Champion takes out 136 to move ahead for the first time.
4-2 - Brown lands two 180s in a sparkling 12-darter to pull two legs clear.
4-3 - Double ten keeps the Dutch qualifier's hopes alive.
4-4 - Brown misses three match darts at tops, allowing van der Horst in to hit a third-dart double eight to send the game into a decider.
5-4 - van der Horst is first to a finish, but misses the bull to take out 85 to allow Brown a chance, and the youngster finishes a superb 115 on double 19 to snatch the win.
Rowby-John Rodriguez v Martin Phillips
1-0 - Rodriguez finishes 32 to claim the opening leg.
1-1 - Phillips takes out a superb 161 checkout to level.
2-1 - Rodriguez lands tops for a 14-darter to move back in front.
3-1 - Rodriguez breaks throw by hitting double top once again.
4-1 - The young Austrian is first to a finish, and lands a third-dart double 14 to move a leg away from the win.
4-2 - Double four sees Phillips keep his hopes alive.
5-2 - A superb 114 checkout sees Rodriguez claim the win.
Andy Boulton v Larry Butler
0-1 - Butler hits a 180 and finishes double six o win the opening leg.
1-1 - Double 16 sees Boulton level.
1-2 - Butler finishes 60 as he edges back in front.
1-3 - Boulton misses a dart at tops, and Butler takes out 48 on double 16 to break throw and move two legs clear.
1-4 - Butler hits a 180 and then finishes double ten for a 14-darter to move to the brink of victory.
2-4 - Boulton finishes 102 on double 16 to save the match.
3-4 - Boulton breaks throw to continue his revival, defying a 180 from Butler with scores of 137, 140 and 140 before finishing double eight.
4-4 - Double 12 for Boulton sends the match into a decider.
4-5 - Boulton hits his first 180 of the game, but misses a dart at tops for an 80 checkout to snatch the victory as Butler steps in to hit double 16 for the points.
Terry Jenkins v Geert De Vos
1-0 - Jenkins hits a 180, and is given a let-off by De Vos when the Belgian misses two darts at doubles, allowing him back in to claim the opening leg against the throw on double three.
2-0 - Double two gives Jenkins the second leg.
3-0 - Jenkins takes out a brilliant 138 on double nine.
4-0 - Jenkins fires in a 180 and takes out 60 to win his fourth leg.
5-0 - De Vos misses double 18 and nine, allowing Jenkins in on double six to seal a whitewash victory.
Robert Thornton v Jonny Clayton
1-0 - Thornton breaks throw by taking out 40.
2-0 - A 14-darter, capped by an 85 checkout, sees Thornton move two legs up.
3-0 - Thornton hits a 180 and finishes his favoured tops to win a third straight leg.
3-1 - Clayton claims his first leg with a neat 100 finish.
3-2 - The Welsh ace takes out 96 on double nine to reduce the gap.
4-2 - Clayton's revival continues with a 180, but he misses the bull to finish 121 and level, and Thornton escapes with double ten.
5-2 - Thornton fires in a 180 and finishes double eight to seal the win.
Phil Taylor v Robbie Green
1-0 - Taylor takes out 83 for a 14-darter to claim the opening leg.
1-1 - Green levels by finishing 81 on the bullseye.
2-1 - Taylor completes a 12-darter by finishing 125 on tops.
2-2 - Two missed darts at double 12 from Taylor allow Green to level on double four.
3-2 - Taylor completes a 13-darter on tops.
4-2 - Taylor breaks throw with a superb 126 checkout as double six moves him two legs clear.
5-2 - Taylor scores 180 and 177 during the leg before finishing double eight to seal the win, his second of the Group Stage.
James Wade v Mark Webster
1-0 - Webster opens with a 180 and adds another maximum, only to miss double top to allow Wade in to complete a 14-darter by hitting the same bed.
2-0 - Five further missed doubles from Webster allow Wade in on tops again.
2-1 - Webster finishes 76 on double eight to get off the mark.
3-1 - The former Wolverhampton finalist moves two legs clear once again.
4-1 - Wade hits a 180 before finishing 54 on tops.
5-1 - Wade completes victory in terrific fashion with an 11-darter, hitting a second 180 before finishing tops to end the game with a 105.83 average.
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
0-1 - Double four gives van Barneveld the opening leg.
1-1 - Anderson lands a 180 and double 12 to level, punishing a missed double 16 from the Dutchman.
2-1 - Anderson lands a 180 as he regains the lead.
2-2 - Double 12 sees van Barneveld level once again.
3-2 - Anderson finishes 86 on the bull to regain the edge.
3-3 - van Barneveld responds with a 180 and double eight.
4-3 - The pair trade 180s, but van Barneveld is punished for a miss at double 15 as Anderson returns on tops to avert a possible break of throw.
5-3 - Anderson lands a fourth 180 before taking out 121 on the bull to complete the win.