Darts: Grand slam defending champion Raymond van Barneveld opens 2013 event
Last Updated: 05/11/13 6:54pm
Van Barneveld celebrates last year's triumph
Defending William Hill Grand Slam of Darts champion Raymond van Barneveld will take on rising star Ricky Evans in the opening session of the £400,000 tournament on Saturday as the nine-day event begins in Wolverhampton.
Dutch legend van Barneveld heads Group E for the round-robin stage of the prestigious tournament which sees the 32 players split into eight groups of four players, with the top two from each group progressing to the knockout stage from the second round onwards.
Van Barneveld will open the defence of his title in Saturday afternoon's opening session against Kettering's Evans, the World Youth Championship finalist this year who also reached his first senior final on the PDC ProTour in a Players Championship last Saturday in Wigan.
Their Group E rivals Mervyn King and Tony O'Shea will also meet, while former Grand Slam of Darts champion Scott Waites, the current Lakeside Champion, plays Shropshire's two-time World Champion Ted Hankey in their Group H opener.
World Grand Prix finalist and World Youth Champion Michael Smith meet in an all-St Helens clash in the other Group H game, while Group F's opening matches see Andy Hamilton face Wildcard Qualifier Justin Pipe and former UK Open champion Robert Thornton take on Mark Walsh.
The afternoon's other fixtures will come from Group G, as Simon Whitlock plays Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner Ross Smith and Wes Newton plays Mark Webster.
Saturday's evening session features the opening matches for Groups A-D, headlined by 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor's game with Cheshire-based Wildcard Qualifier Stuart Kellett.
Their Group A rivals Kevin Painter and Paul Nicholson, both former Players Championship Finals winners, also meet, while Group B sees former Wolverhampton runner-up James Wade play Wildcard Qualifier Peter Wright and 2011 Grand Slam finalist Gary Anderson face Dutchman Wesley Harms.
Premier League Darts champion Michael van Gerwen plays Vincent van der Voort in an all-Dutch Group D opener, with Belgium's Kim Huybrechts playing Dean Winstanley in the other tie.
European Champion Adrian Lewis kicks off Group C against debutant Richie George, with former Lakeside Champion Christian Kist playing Belgium's Ronny Huybrechts.
Sunday's play will see players compete in their second group games, with the winners of Saturday's matches facing each other and the losers also facing off.
Monday evening will sees Groups E-H play their final group games, with Groups A-D completing their round-robin matches on Tuesday night.
The top two players will progress to play in the knockout Second Round from Wednesday onwards, with the tournament concluding with the semi-finals and final on Sunday November 17.