2019 Paddy Power Champions League of Darts Preview

THE FACTS

When is the 2019 Paddy Power Champions League of Darts taking place? Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th October 2019

Where is the 2019 Paddy Power Champions League of Darts taking place? Morningside Arena, Leicester

What channel is the 2019 Paddy Power Champions League of Darts on? BBC One and BBC Two (this schedule should tell you which channel it is on)

Where can I stream the 2019 Paddy Power Champions League of Darts? The tournament can be streamed via the BBC iPlayer

Where can I get tickets for the 2019 Paddy Power Champions League of Darts? Tickets are available from SeeTickets and the Morningside Arena

What is the format for the 2019 Paddy Power Champions League of Darts? The eight players are split into two groups of four for the round-robin phase over the opening three sessions. the top two from each group progress to the knockout phase which consists of a semi-final and final.

THE PLAYERS

GROUP A

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN (1)

  • World number one Michael van Gerwen arrives at the 2019 Champions League of Darts in excellent form having retained his World Grand Prix title in Dublin last weekend in impressive fashion, dropping only four sets in five matches in doing so.
  • Although MVG has suffered some early exits in TV tournaments in 2019, it has still been a very successful year by anyone’s standards with the Dutchman having won the World Championship, Masters, Premier League and World Grand Prix titles this calendar year.
  • Despite his vast array of titles, this is one major tournament the dominant Dutchman has yet to win. Beaten in the inaugural final in 2016 by Phil Taylor, he then failed to make it out of his group in 2017 and lost in the semi-finals last year.

MICHAEL SMITH (4)

  • Michael Smith is competing at the Champions League of Darts for the first time since 2016 when he lost all three matches in a group containing Gary Anderson, James Wade and Adrian Lewis.
  • Smith is a much-improved player on the big TV stage since that appearance in 2016. In the last 18 months he has reached finals at the World Championship, World Matchplay and Premier League as well as a tournament win on the TV stage at the Shanghai Darts Masters.
  • Despite his undoubted talent and improved consistent play in the big tournaments, he has still yet to win a major PDC TV title and is without a PDC tournament win since his triumph in Shanghai in July 2018.

GARY ANDERSON (5)

  • Gary Anderson arrives in Leicester aiming to retain the Champions League of Darts title he won in Brighton in September 2018 with an 11-4 victory against Peter Wright in the final, thus going one better than in 2017 when he lost in the final to Mensur Suljovic.
  • The Flying Scotsman has competed in all three previous editions of this tournament and has never failed to qualify from his group. In total, he has won seven of his nine matches in the group stage.
  • Anderson has not played as much competitive darts in 2019 following his recovery from injury earlier in the year which caused him to miss the Premier League. Although he won the World Cup of Darts in June alongside Peter Wright, his last success in a singles tournament came at this tournament in September 2018.

JAMES WADE (8)

  • James Wade has qualified for the Champions League of Darts for the first time since 2016 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champion Phil Taylor. On his way to the semi-finals, he impressively averaged 103 in his wins against Adrian Lewis and Michael Smith.
  • Wade is no stranger to winning major TV tournaments having won a number of them in a glittering career and it was around this time last year when he won back-to-back TV titles at the European Championship and World Series of Darts Finals.
  • Although he hasn’t won a TV title in 2019 so far, Wade has had plenty of success on the PDC tour with a handful a ranking tournament victories under his belt this year.

GROUP B

ROB CROSS (2)

  • Rob Cross will be hoping to improve on a disappointing Champions League of Darts debut last year when he crashed out at the group stage with a third place finish behind Mensur Suljovic and Peter Wright, with his only win coming against Simon Whitlock.
  • Such was his underwhelming performance at the 2018 Champions League of Darts, his highest match average was 94.03 in his win against Whitlock. The defeats against Suljovic and Wright saw him average 91.79 and 89.70 respectively.
  • Although he suffered an early defeat to Glen Durrant at the World Grand Prix last week, Voltage has had an impressive year so far in the big TV tournaments with a win at the World Matchplay, a run to the final at the UK Open and also an impressive Premier League campaign that ended in defeat against MVG in the final.

DARYL GURNEY (3)

  • Daryl Gurney was unfortunate to miss out on qualification from his group on his Champions League of Darts debut last year when he won two out of his three matches in a group containing Gary Anderson, Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall.
  • In that 2018 campaign, he defeated eventual champion Gary Anderson in his opening match before losing 10-7 in a tight contest against Michael van Gerwen. His win against Dave Chisnall in his final match proved to be fruitless as Anderson and Van Gerwen progressed.
  • Twice a major TV tournament winner in his career, Gurney exited in the round one at the World Grand Prix last week but has had some good showings on TV in 2019 reaching both the Premier League and World Matchplay semi-finals.

PETER WRIGHT (6)

  • 2018 Champions League of Darts runner-up Peter Wright will be bidding to go one step further this year having lost 11-4 in the final to World Cup team-mate Gary Anderson in September 2018.
  • Prior to last year, Snakebite had failed to qualify from his group in 2016 and 2017, though in fairness in both of those years the two players who finished above him went on to contest the final – Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen in 2016 and then Mensur Suljovic and Gary Anderson in 2017.
  • Wright has tasted success on the TV stage in 2019 with wins at the German Darts Masters and alongside Gary Anderson at the World Cup of Darts. He also warmed-up for this tournament by posting a record broadcasted average of 123.5 in a tour event on Monday of this week, before winning Players Championship 30 the following day.

GERWYN PRICE (7)

  • Welshman Gerwyn Price is making his Champions League of Darts debut at the 2019 tournament and he is the only player in the eight-man field who has not previously featured in the event.
  • Price is certainly no stranger to the big stage and big occasion though. Having won the Grand Slam of Darts title in 2018, he has also been a Premier League participant in 2018 and 2019.
  • The Iceman has won a number of ranking events in 2019, the biggest of which came on the European Tour in September when he defeated Rob Cross in the final of the International Darts Open. His best TV tournament appearance in 2019 was a run to the semi-finals at the UK Open in March.

THE PREDICTION

The top eight ranked players in the PDC do battle for the 2019 Paddy Power Champions League of Darts title and with such an array of talent on display, whoever wins the tournament will certainly have had to come through a tough route to do so.

There have been three different winners of the Champions League of Darts since the tournament started in 2016 and only one of those previous champions – Gary Anderson – is in the field this year, with Phil Taylor now retired and Mensur Suljovic having fallen out of the top eight in the rankings.

It is somewhat a surprise given Michael van Gerwen’s immense talent that he has not succeeded here previously and he will certainly be in the mood to put that right following his impressive win at the World Grand Prix last week.

MVG is certainly the man to beat and is tipped to win the tournament, but if his odds are too short and you are looking for some value, one could make a case for any of the outsiders to have a run to the final at least. In particular James Wade, Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price all won TV titles at the back end of 2018 and have won on the tour in 2019 so certainly can’t be written off.

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