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.
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.
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.
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