The Top 8 in the World of Darts embark upon Brighton this weekend for the third running of the Champions League Of Darts. The event is indeed unique as its the only televised PDC event on the BBC. With PDC of course originally being formed as a breakaway from the BDO and therefore the BBC.
Last year was a truly memorable event, and it was the making of Mensur Suljovic. The Austrian was the 40/1 outsider and stormed to victory which subsequently led to a Premier League Place, then later, a classic World Matchplay final and now established top 8 ranking. Simon Whitlock finds himself the outsider this year, but his form is worrying for such a strong field.
Group A seems to have all the quick players and big 180 hitters. Therefore we can expect fast and furious exciting action with Van Gerwen opening against Chisnall and Anderson playing Gurney.
The pace of each other suits the four players but I worry that Gurney is the most vulnerable for qualifying purposes. He hasn’t hit the heights this season and this is very tough company.
With all the fast-paced tungsten slingers in one group, we have the more balanced and deliberate throwing styles of these elite players.
Suljovic should put up a courageous defence and Whitlock is the one I suspect won’t qualify. He has a tough opener against Wright while World Champion Cross plays defending Champion Suljovic in the standout opening round game.
I think the best bet of the group stages is Whitlock to finish bottom of Group B as the other three will be very competitive for two qualifying places, and those three all have better form claims. With regards to Outright Betting, Van Gerwen should always be favourite but odds on looks a bit short given the mixed results this year.
He’s failed to land The Matchplay and The Worlds, the two most coveted trophies. I think Mensur will give a very bold defence but Gary Anderson might be the value as he is going from strength to strength and represents reliable betting equity these days and will avoid MVG until the final if he qualifies.