Champions League of Darts - 16/09/17 - 17/09/17

It’s been a barren few months in terms of TV tournaments after Phil Taylor’s emotional win at his last ever World Matchplay. Whilst the Champions League is a relatively small and unprestigious event compared to other tournaments, it will provide a great indicator of players’ form going into the World Grand Prix in Dublin and the big one in December, the World Championship.

Michael van Gerwen is back after becoming a father for the first time and is immediately firing the sort of arrows we are accustomed to: an average of 107 against Kyle Anderson in the Dutch Darts Masters was just a taster. It’s no surprise that he is the overwhelming favourite and he’s the same price to win as the rest of the field put together. However, it would be foolish to back against him. Whilst Phil Taylor won this tournament last year, it was his only televised success until July’s Matchplay crown. Gary Anderson is the next biggest threat, but he has already admitted that his focus is solely on the Worlds in December. Van Gerwen loves hoovering up these kinds of tournaments and will continue to do so in Cardiff.

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Michael van Gerwen Tournament Winner - 3pts @ 10/11

Eight players are split into two groups of four, which means that players have no time to get into gear as the short format of the tournament takes hold. Group A sees Van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld pitted together. Taylor's odds are shorter than usual due to his recent success but they look too short considering his form was woeful up until the Matchplay, which has always been Taylor’s self—confessed favourite tournament. Adrian Lewis has stayed consistent in the rankings but has produced nothing of note for years. All that being said, Raymond van Barneveld should not be the outsider in this group. He has the game to beat all three players (anyone writing off the Dutchman should see his game against MVG in the 2016 World Championship) and at big odds-against to qualify, looks a tempting price.

Group A to Qualify – Raymond van Barneveld - 1pt @ 12/5

Group B is slightly weaker, but still possesses plenty of talent in Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall and Mensur Suljovic. Anderson is heavy favourite to qualify and rightly so, his B game is still good enough to beat Chisnall and Suljovic. Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall should fight it out for the second qualifying place and it could well come down to the game between the two. However I’m backing Wright to get through the group, he’s playing better on stage than he has ever done and that’s down to breaking his duck by winning the UK Open. Chisnall is fast becoming known as the ‘nearly’ man due to never winning a big one and the crowd will favour Scotsman Wright against the English Chisnall. Back Wright to qualify.

Group B to Qualify – Peter Wright - 1pt @ 4/7