Peter Wright admitted he faces a “tough” clash with Simon Whitlock after fighting back from 2-0 down to win his third successive Grand Slam clash and sail through to the knockout stages.
Snakebite got into his stride after a sluggish start to level the match up at 4-4 before delivering a powerhouse deciding leg win over Josh Payne.
The Livingston-born ace will now face a tricky clash with Wizard of Oz Simon Whitlock in the last 16 tomorrow night (Wednesday).
He said: “I’m through and I’m happy about that. The scoring was absolutely shocking and I was lucky to get away with the win.
“I guess I’m saving my best for the knockout stages. It’s a proper competition now with the knockout, you’ve got to play proper darts.
“It’s different playing the group stuff, you can win two games and still get knocked out. What’s that all about!
“Simon’s going to be tough, he’s been playing really well. He played some magic darts against Gerwyn Price and if he plays like that I’m in for a hard game.”
Simon Whitlock vowed “I never give up” after producing a sensational comeback to defeat Gerwyn Price.
European Championship runner-up Whitlock, who needed a win to qualify from Group F, trailed 4-1 before landing a second 170 finish of the match and then survived two match darts from Price to claim a dramatic win.
He said: “I never give up, it's part of who I am as a person.
“I'm feeling so relieved to get through after that crazy game. It felt amazing to see the two 170s to go in. I'm feeling good at the moment and I want to keep this feeling going.”
Despite suffering defeat to the determined Australian, Welshman Price qualified as group winner, while the result also meant an early elimination for last year's quarter-finalist Glen Durrant, who suffered a 5-4 loss to Andrew Gilding earlier in the evening despite averaging 104.98.
German No.1 Max Hopp suffered a 5-4 defeat to Jim Williams, but it still wasn't enough for the Welsh BDO qualifier to progress on his Grand Slam debut.
In Group H, reigning World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh secured his progression to the last 16 with a 5-1 win over Mark McGeeney and he will now take on Group G winner Stephen Bunting.
Van den Bergh said: “Two years ago I won two group games but I lost in a nine-dart shoot-out, which was gutting, so I'm happy to get through this time.
“I'm in a good place, my preparation before games is going fine, and I have a lot of support from people around me. That helps me a lot."
Rob Cross was already assured of his place in the knockout stage but his 5-2 win over already-eliminated Ryan Searle meant the World Champion went through as Group H winner, and he will now play Mensur Suljovic, who made it through despite suffering a 5-4 defeat to young German Martin Schindler.
Bunting topped Group G with three wins out of three after his 5-1 success over Scott Mitchell in the battle of the former Lakeside Champions, a result which ensured Suljovic’s progression.
By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia)