Champions League of Darts Preview
The top eight players in the PDC rankings will face-off in Brighton this weekend for the third inauguration of the Champions League of Darts.
The first two years of the only BBC-broadcast PDC event saw it take place in Cardiff, but there’s a change of venue this year as the tournament head to sunny Brighton. As always, the eight players have been split into two groups of four based on their rankings.
Group A includes Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Daryl Gurney and Dave Chisnall. Notably, this is the only PDC premier event (all televised events apart from the World Series) that MVG has failed to win. 2016 saw Phil Taylor defeat the world number one 11-5 in the final, while ‘The Power’ also ended van Gerwen’s run last year, this time in the group stage. The retirement of the 18-time World Champion has helped to allow three debuts in the competition, with World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney being placed in Group A. ‘Superchin’ has seen a slight recovery to his form after the summer break, including a run to the final of Players Championship 17. He has also produced a few encouraging performances on the European Tour stage without reaching a quarter-final. The group is completed by World Matchplay champion Gary Anderson, who should be refreshed after a two-week break from competitive action, and Dave Chisnall, who hasn’t kicked on at all after smashing in a Euro Tour record average of 118.66 at the start of the month in Hildesheim.
Group B consists of Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Mensur Suljović and Simon Whitlock. For World Champion Cross, it’s as close as he’ll get to having a home tournament as he resides in nearby Hastings. After taking the last two Euro Tours off, ‘Voltage’ will be confident of pleasing the locals with an impressive run. Mensur Suljović surprised everyone last year in beating Raymond van Barneveld then Gary Anderson on finals night to take home his first televised trophy. ‘The Gentle’ has already won twice on stage this year, on the European Tour in Copenhagen and on the World Series in Gelsenkirchen, so may fancy his chances of a repeat. Simon Whitlock is another success story, as ‘The Wizard’ is the third and final player to be making his debut in the event this year after an impressive rise up the rankings in the last twelve months, culminating in two recent Euro Tour finals. Peter Wright, meanwhile, won in Melbourne just over a month ago and will be hoping to take this form into Brighton as he aims to get out of his group for the first time.
The action gets underway on Saturday afternoon with the opening four group matches. Suljović starts his title defence in the first match of the tournament against local favourite Rob Cross, while the first session also includes Michael van Gerwen taking on Dave Chisnall. Four more best of 19 matches follow in the evening session as the afternoon winners each other and the afternoon losers play each other. This ensures it will be all to play for going into the final day of action at The Brighton Centre. Michael van Gerwen is the slight favourite for the title as he always is, but Gary Anderson and Rob Cross will both pose a serious challenge to the world number one. One thing is for sure, it will be an enthralling event on the south coast with every single game being a heavyweight clash. Stay tuned to dartsplanet.tv for a review of each day’s play.