Champions League of Darts – Day One Review
Mensur Suljović extended his unbeaten run in the Champions League of Darts to seven games as the third edition of the tournament for the top eight PDC players got underway in Brighton.
‘The Gentle’, who is defending his title from last year has already sealed his spot in Sunday evening’s semi-finals after wins over Rob Cross and Peter Wright. Elsewhere, world number one Michael van Gerwen registered the highest average of the day – an astronomical 111.23 in his 10-2 demolition of Dave Chisnall. MVG is on course to finally take home the Champions League title and complete his trophy cabinet. Other than Suljović, no one really laid down a significant marker. Gary Anderson, Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright all won one game each, while Simon Whitlock is already eliminated and Dave Chisnall would require a near-miracle to escape the same fate, especially considering ‘Chizzy’ seems to have a back problem.
The event began with a mouthwatering clash that saw World Champion and local favourite Rob Cross go up against the reigning champion Mensur Suljović. The Austrian continued his stellar form from this time last year to deny a near-perfect finishing percentage from ‘Voltage’ and take that one 10-8. The second game in Group B saw Peter Wright edge past Simon Whitlock 10-7 with a 101 average. ‘Snakebite’ could have got it done much earlier, which could turn out to be vital given the format of this tournament, but eventually got over the line on double 16. Another ton-plus average followed from two-time back-to-back World Champion Gary Anderson, but ‘The Flying Scotsman’ didn’t have enough against a superb finishing display from Daryl Gurney. The World Grand Prix champion may well be coming into some form for the defence of that title next week. The final game of the afternoon session was a quick one as Michael van Gerwen hit 10 out of his 12 doubles attempts and romped to a 10-2 victory over Dave Chisnall – crucial for the leg difference. On that performance, ‘Mighty Mike’ will be hard to stop this weekend.
Four more matches took place in the evening at The Brighton Centre, and this quartet of match-ups got underway with home hero Rob Cross facing off against former two-time World finalist Simon Whitlock. Once again, ‘The Wizard’ came close to a notable scalp but eventually succumbed 10-8 to the World Champ. The next game was the only one of the day where both players averaged over 100, and it saw Mensur Suljović come out on top 10-7 against Peter Wright. Gary Anderson then made amends for his loss to Daryl Gurney by seeing off an out of sorts Dave Chisnall 10-3. Michael van Gerwen is Anderson’s opponent tomorrow afternoon, and he once again looked formidable after he stormed into a 5-0 lead against Gurney, but ‘Superchin’ brought it back to 6-4 at the break and missed darts to close within one at 9-8. MVG then went out on double 4 to move close to joining the reigning champion in the last four.
Sunday afternoon sees the final set of group matches, starting with a dead rubber as Suljović plays Whitlock, although ‘The Gentle’ will still want to top the group, thus probably avoiding van Gerwen in the semis. There’s then a winner-takes-all match-up between Wright and Cross, before Group A concludes with Gurney against Chisnall and the big one, van Gerwen against Anderson – probably the two best players in the world this year. The semi-finals and final then take plane in the evening as the third Champions League winner is confirmed, and stay tuned to dartsplanet.tv to find out exactly who that is.