This weekend will be an exciting one for darts fans, with the inaugural edition of the Champions League of Darts set to take place in Cardiff. So what exactly is this new tournament and which players will be taking part?
The Champions League of Darts – A Brief Guide to the Competition
Established by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), the Champions League of Darts is a new tournament, which the organisation hopes will mark the start of a new era for the sport. The event is scheduled to begin on Saturday 24 September and will take two days to complete.
The tournament, which is being held at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, will feature the top eight players from the PDC Order of Merit, all of whom have won some coveted darts trophies during their careers. They will be divided into two groups of four for the first part of the competition, which consists of a round robin event. The top two players from each group will then head into the semi-finals to battle for a place in the final. The tournament winner will be rewarded with a prize of £100,000.
In February 2016, the BBC announced that it would be broadcasting live coverage of the Champions League of Darts. The decision meant that the corporation would also cease to show action from the BDO World Championship, an event which has been broadcast by the BBC for the past 38 years. The fact that the BBC was likely to stop covering the BDO tournament due to budget cuts was reported by the press as far back as December 2015, but the decision to broadcast the new competition instead will surely be seen as a snub to the BDO.
The change of direction was good news for the PDC, however, and the organisation’s chairman, Barry Hearn, told the Daily Mail that viewers would be able to enjoy “an exciting, quick-fire tournament.”
“Both live crowds and TV audiences have continued to soar for PDC tournaments in the last year, and it’s a great reflection for us that the BBC were keen to add the Champions League of Darts to their sporting portfolio,” he added.
Who’ll be Playing at the 2016 Event?
Whether you’re watching the competition on the television or heading to Cardiff to attend the event, you’ll be able to see eight of the sport’s biggest names in action.
Winner of sixteen World Championships, Phil “the Power” Taylor will be competing in Group A, along with the world number one, Michael van Gerwen. The group also includes Peter “Snakebite” Wright, famous for his vibrantly-coloured Mohican haircuts, who was the runner-up in the 2015 and 2016 UK Open tournaments, and who won a European Tour event in 2014. The final member of Group A is Robert Thornton, the winner of the 2015 World Grand Prix, the 2012 British Open and the 2007 World Masters titles.
Group B includes Gary “The Flying Scotsman” Anderson, the current PDC World Champion, and Adrian “Jackpot” Lewis, who held the title in 2011 and 2012. James Wade, the former winner of a host of major events, including the 2008 and 2011 UK Open and the 2014 Masters, will also be competing in Group B, along with the 2013 PDC U21 Champion, Michael Smith, who made it into the quarter-finals of the World Championship at the beginning of year.
Are you planning to watch the Champions League of Darts? Who do you think will win the title? Tell us in the comments section, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.