Phil Taylor Wins Inaugural Champions League Ahead Of Dublin Grand Prix

A busy week’s worth of top darts action gets underway in Dublin this Sunday as the World Grand Prix begins. All of the big names are in the hat and the first round draw was made this week, allowing us to take a look at the order of play before we call a winner.

Phil Taylor

Phil Taylor Wins Champions League

First, a quick note on last week’s first ever Champions League of Darts. In a sensational final, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor blew Michael Van Gerwen off the oche as the sixteen-time world champion recalled the form of his younger years.

Mighty Mike has been the best in the world for some time now, taking down tourney after tourney. However, perhaps because it was the inaugural event, Taylor was inspired to relive the glory days and (as we suggested) was too good to turn down at 5/1.

The event, live on the BBC, took place over two days at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena with Taylor and MVG meeting twice along the way. Taylor emerged victorious on both occasions, first winning 10-4 in the group-stage, then 11-5 in the final on Sunday.

In truth, Taylor, 56, had looked near-invincible all weekend; feeding off the crowd, winning all five matches and dropping only 19 legs throughout the whole event.

Taylor and MVG were seeded in the same group and as such avoided each other until Sunday’s trophy match. Instead they faced and defeated James Wade and Gary Anderson respectively i to set up the final everybody was hoping for.

Taylor set the pace, taking an early 4-1 lead, before MVG began the short-lived fight back, pulling it back to 6-3. The Power, though, responded magnificently using an 11-darter to move 7-3 up.

The break in play after ten legs did little to slow Taylor down or recharge his rival as the match sailed away in the Englishman’s favour. The Power quickly finished a 114 on double 17, sealing the title and the £100,000 winner’s cheque as well as being crowned the first ever winner of the event.

World Grand Prix: order of play in Dublin

The running order for this year’s Grand Prix was announced this week, giving us an idea as to what we can expect when the usual suspects return to the Citywest Hotel in Dublin on Sunday.

Darts Grand Prix
With Michael Van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright not making their entrance until Monday, James Wade, twice a winner in the Fair City, is the first of the seeds to step up.

Defending champion Robert Thornton will be in action on the opening night as will Raymond van Barneveld and current world champion Gary Anderson. The event, live on Sky Sports 3 at 7pm, will begin with Australian Kyle Anderson looking to out throw Spaniard Cristo Reyes, which will be followed by Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts taking on Ian White.

Later in the evening, Scotland’s Thornton faces former BDO world champion Stephen Bunting before Anderson’s game with Jamie Caven prior to Barney’s match.

As for the betting, third seed Adrian Lewis is a surprisingly generous 18/1 which, with each way bets paying half of the odds for a top two finish, represents good value with Jackpot more than capable of making the final. Betway are laying 9/2 on Taylor to continue his return to form in the outright betting, while the best you can take on MVG at 5/4 at SkyBet. Personally, I’m looking at Anderson who is due a win and, at 11/2 with Betway, is a worthwhile punt.

Full order of play

Sunday October 2 – 1st round

  • Kyle Anderson v Cristo Reyes
  • Ian White v Kim Huybrechts
  • James Wade (6) v Terry Jenkins
  • Gerwyn Price v Benito van de Pas
  • Adrian Lewis (3) v Jelle Klaasen
  • Robert Thornton (7) v Stephen Bunting
  • Gary Anderson (2) v Jamie Caven
  • Mervyn King v Raymond van Barneveld

Monday October 3 – 1st round

  • Dave Chisnall v Robbie Green
  • Mick McGowan v James Wilson
  • Mensur Suljovic v Daryl Gurney
  • Michael Smith (8) v Alan Norris
  • Joe Cullen v Simon Whitlock
  • Phil Taylor (4) v Steve West
  • Michael van Gerwen (1) v Steve Beaton
  • Peter Wright (5) v Brendan Dolan

Tuesday October 4 – 2nd round

  • James Wade (6)/Terry Jenkins v Gerwyn Price/Benito van de Pas
  • Robert Thornton (7)/Stephen Bunting v Ian White/Kim Huybrechts
  • Gary Anderson (2)/Jamie Caven v Kyle Anderson/Cristo Reyes
  • Adrian Lewis (3)/Jelle Klaasen v Mervyn King/Raymond van Barneveld

Wednesday October 5 – 2nd round

  • Michael Smith (8)/Alan Norris v Joe Cullen/Simon Whitlock
  • Peter Wright (5) v Brendan Dolan v Dave Chisnall/Robbie Green
  • Phil Taylor (4)/Steve West v Mensur Suljovic/Daryl Gurney
  • Michael van Gerwen (1)/Steve Beaton v Mick McGowan v James Wilson

Thursday October 6

  • Quarter-Finals x 4 (TBA)

Friday October 7

  • Semi-Finals x 2 (TBA)

Saturday October 8

  • Final
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Betting Tips For First Champions League Of Darts

A little piece of darting history will be made this weekend when the players return to action for the first ever Champions League of Darts.

Champions League of Darts
Taking place this coming Saturday and Sunday at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, the event will also mark a thawing of the frost that has developed between the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the BBC.

Since the PDC formed and split from the British Darts Organisation (BDO) in 1992, their events (by far the more prestigious of the two), have not been broadcast on the United Kingdom’s national channel who have continued to cover BDO tournaments. In broadcasting the new event, the BBC will cease to cover January’s BDO World Championship, which will now be watchable on Channel 4.

And what can the Beeb expect for its money?

They can expect eight of the world’s best players selected according to the PDC Order of Merit following July’s World Matchplay. Playing a round robin format and competing in two groups, A and B, the top two places from the tables’ final standings progress to the knock-out phase, the semi-finals, which will be played on the following Sunday.

All of the group matches will be played out over the best of 19 legs with the semi-finals and final being the best of 21. Both days will have an afternoon and evening session, with Sunday’s session hosting the semi-finals and final.

The Groups

Group A

Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Peter Wright, Robert Thornton

As the inaugural event, both Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and Michael ‘Mighty Mike’ van Gerwen will be aiming to be the first ever winner.

Good news then, that they have landed each other in Group A. Should both progress from the group, they cannot meet in the semis, thus there is a decent chance that the pair could meet in what would surely be an epic first final. That said, with Peter Wright and Robert Thornton making up the numbers, it will be tough.

Taylor is a best price 5/2 at Sky Bet to top the group while our partners all agree on MVG at 4/7 and Snakebite at 7/1 with Thornton way out at 25/1.

Group B

Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, James Wade, Michael Smith

World champion Gary ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Anderson will be the man to beat in Group B, something Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis is capable of. Lewis has two world championships himself but with James Wade and Michael Smith looking to claim their slice of history, this could well be the closer of the two groups.

Understandably, Gary Anderson is the favourite to win the group and both Sky Bet and Betway are in agreement that 6/5 is reasonable value for him to do just that.

If, like me, you can see Jackpot toping the pile, then jump on the 9/4 offered by all of our partners. James Wade can be backed for the group at a best price of 9/2, available at Bet365, while Smith can be found at 13/2 in the same book.

So, if we go with odds and form, then we could end up with a last four of MVG/Taylor vs Anderson/Lewis, which would open up the Taylor vs MVG final face-off that we are all looking forward to.

Obviously, Van Gerwen is the clear outright favourite at 8/11 across the board, but that’s too easy so I’ll lose my money on Taylor instead, available at a more than reasonable 5/1.

The Champions League of Darts airs across BBC One and BBC Two, Saturday 24 September (first match at 1.15 pm) and Sunday 25 September.

Champions League of Darts tournament schedule

Saturday September 24

Group Phase One, Afternoon Session (1.15 pm-5 pm)

  • Gary Anderson v Michael Smith (B)
  • Adrian Lewis v James Wade (B)
  • Phil Taylor v Peter Wright (A)
  • Michael van Gerwen v Robert Thornton (A)

Second Group Matches, Evening Session (6.30 pm-10 pm)

The winners of earlier matches play one another, while the losers of earlier matches play one another.

Sunday September 25

Afternoon Session (1 pm-5 pm)

Final group matches

Evening Session (6.30 pm)

Semi-finals and final

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The 5 Best Checkouts In Darts History

The holy grail of darts, a nine-dart finish is a perfect leg of a match, using only nine darts (the minimum available), to checkout from 501.

Considered to be the darting equivalent of a 147 break in snooker, these fantastic finishes used to be rare. As the game’s professionalism has risen, so too has the televised nine-dart checkout. Nowadays, a nine-dart finish is almost expected, with tournament sponsors often donating pre-determined sums to the charity of the finisher’s choosing.

It isn’t only nine darts that the crowds love however. Any remarkable checkout, particularly one performed under extreme pressure, will get the crowd jumping.

On that note, with no live darts again this week, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable nine-darters and other top checkouts in recent history.

Adrian Lewis V Gary Anderson (2011)

Top darts checkouts
At the 2011 World Championships, Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis chalked up the first ever nine-darter in the final; he left it to the end of the tourney to checkout on his few remaining arrows and take the title, his first, at the young age of 25.

What is even more impressive is that his opponent that day was current world champion Gary Anderson. In beating the Scotsman 7-5, Lewis’ young age meant that he became the first ever PDC World Darts Championship winner to have never appeared at the BDO.

On top of that, he was only the fifth new winner since the PDC championships broke away from the BDO in 1994, during which time Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor took the crown an incredible 13 times. Taylor’s Stoke protégé Lewis retained the title a year later, beating Andy Hamilton at the Ally Pally.

Dean Winstanley vs Vincent van der Voort (2013)

Top darts checkouts

Little-known Dean Winstanley from Rotherham threw only the fourth ever nine-dart checkout in the history of the PDC World Championship back in 2012 against the Dutchman Vincent van der Voort.

Two sets down in the second round when he threw the perfect nine, Winstanely dug deep to throw the best darts of his life which was comprised of two 180s and a 141 checkout of treble 20, treble 19 and a double 12.

Feeling pleased with his darts, the Yorkshireman took to running wildly across the stage at London’s Alexandra Palace in celebration before returning to the oche to level the match and set himself up for a historic win.

Naturally, Van Der Voort took the next two sets and won 4-2. The £15,000 prize money, however, can never be taken away from him.

Tony Ayres vs James Wade (2010)

Top darts checkouts
The largely unknown Tony Ayres came to the world’s attention back in 2010 at the UK Open when the Billinghurst-born player produced a career best performance and a life-defining checkout.

In a tourney run he never again managed to equal, Ayres reached the semi-final stage of that year’s event. Having outperformed himself to reach the quarter-finals, he looked for a long time like he wouldn’t see the final four when trailing James Wade 9-8.

Then, on the 18th leg, on Wade’s throw, Wade missed three match darts before Ayres produced what few believed him to be capable of: a 152 checkout, taking the match on double 20 on the way to seeing off James Wade 10–9.

Andy Hamilton Vs Simon Whitlock (2011)

Top darts checkouts

2011’s World Matchplay in Blackpool played host to one of the all-time greatest comebacks in darts history as Andy Hamilton fought back against Simon Whitlock in that year’s quarter-final.

One leg from defeat, Hamilton was trailing by a seemingly insurmountable 15-8 to the Australian Whitlock. Hoping only to claw back a little pride, out of nowhere Hamilton had taken nine consecutive legs as Whitlock, despite not doing a whole lot wrong, somehow still managed to crumble in front of the noisy UK crowd.

Hamilton closed with a 94 checkout to win 17-15 and complete a remarkable victory and turnaround with one of the greatest checkouts pulled off under pressure.

Keith Deller vs Eric Bristow (1983)

Top darts checkouts

The 1983 BDO World Darts Championship is still remembered today for one of the sport’s biggest ever shocks when the massively unfancied Keith Deller defeated Eric ‘The Crafty Cockney’ Bristow, then the world number one and pretty much undisputed best player of the era.

Bristow, Phil Taylor’s hero, dominated the 80s, winning the title in 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Not, however, 1983, when he lined up against 23-year-old qualifier Keith Deller in the final. Deller had caught people’s attention by knocking out world number three, John Lowe, in the quarter-finals and seeing off defending champion and world number two Jocky Wilson in the semis. This, coincidentally, makes him the only player in darts to defeat the world’s top three ranked players in a World Championship.

On the night, the young qualifier started brightly moving up 3 sets to 1, which Bristow was quick to reign in, before Deller won the next two to move into a 5-3 lead, leaving just one set to win. With six darts left to shoot a double for the championship, he choked briefly and allowed Bristow to equalise and overtake.

Despite being crushed, Deller found the strength to go again and shot off a 12-dart leg, followed by a 15, to close in on the title once more. Then, with Bristow opting to go for his signature check out, D16, instead of taking a shot at the bull to take the leg, Deller called his bluff.

He hit treble 20, treble 18, and double 12 to win the title with an unbelievable checkout, thought by many to be the best ever, and become as the youngest ever World Darts Champion and the first qualifier to win the World Championship, before sliding back into obscurity.

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