Is the Champions League of Darts a PDC major?

On the one hand, it brings together the best of the best at such glamorous locations as Cardiff, Brighton and, er, Leicester. There is big money to be won, and the Champions League of Darts has already had some brilliant moments. On the other hand, Co Stompe has never been involved, so it is therefore garbage.

Still, we press on.

Leicester is the third city to host the event, which last year was won by Gary Anderson. Phil Taylor and Mensur Suljovic took the title before that, and with neither of them competing this time, there’s an 87.5% chance of a fourth new champion.

Groups of Death

“There are no easy games in [insert competition here]” is a classic sporting cliche. It’s nonsense of course; there’s always a Watford involved somewhere. But in the case of the Champions League of Darts, it’s the PDC Order of Merit’s top eight – predicting a winner will be hard in any case.

Peter Wright is arguably the form horse, as long as you have a very short-term memory. The Scot piled in the best ever average in a game broadcast live, at Players Championship 29. He then went and won Players Championship 30. Daryl Gurney, however, has won his last two meetings with Snakebite, including at the World Matchplay when Wright was in red-hot form.

Rob Cross is now the reigning World Matchplay champion and former world champion, a multi-major winner and a regular fixture in any big event. He’ll want to keep accruing titles to force home what a big deal he truly is. Voltage can start by arresting a run of three straight defeats against Grand Slam holder Gerwyn Price.

That’s Group B; Group A features players who have won 50 premier stage PDC titles between them. And Michael Smith’s there too. Let’s not be too harsh on the Bully Boy, though. He may even feel like the favourite against defending Champions League of Darts champion Anderson, who’s still feeling his way back into the game.

It’ll annoy Michael van Gerwen that he hasn’t yet won this competition. Even though it’s still in its embryonic stage, the fiercely competitive Dutchman has missed three shots at the title. The recent Grand Prix winner will want to finally get his name on that trophy. James Wade is the ultimate dark horse, and could surprise MvG in the opener – winning wouldn’t be a surprise to Wade, mind.

These games will decide how the evening line-up will go. The four match winners will play each other, while the Group A and B losers will face potential do-or-die clashes.

All the afternoon’s play will be live on BBC One – click here for the full weekend TV schedule.

Champions League of Darts schedule, day one

Afternoon session

13:30 Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright (Group B)
14:30 Rob Cross v Gerwyn Price (Group B)
15:30 Michael Smith v Gary Anderson (Group A)
16:30 Michael van Gerwen v James Wade (Group A)

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Author: Ed McCosh