Champions League of Darts: Predictions, betting tips & odds as the likes of MVG & Gary Anderson head to Brighton

Who will win the Champions League of Darts?
Who will win the Champions League of Darts?

Our darts expert Chris Hammer previews this weekend's BBC-televised Champions League of Darts and picks out his best bets.

Eight of the world's best players collide in Brighton this weekend, live on the Beeb, in one of the increasingly popular events on the PDC calendar, despite it's very short history.

But in just four days worth of action over the past two years, the Champions League of Darts has treated the terrestrial TV audience with no end of drama to whet the appetite ahead of a packed period of major tournaments.

Scroll to the bottom for the full tournament draw, format & fixture schedule

In the inaugural staging of the event in 2016, Phil Taylor rolled back the years to batter MVG twice across the weekend, including the final, much to the delight of the 'old ladies who can't afford Sky' (his words not mine!) and 12 months ago Mensur Suljovic defied pre-tournament odds of 40/1 to claim his maiden TV title.

Suljovic's success was particularly memorable due to him insisting it was "impossible" for him to win the tournament after each of his four wins - including a 10-3 thrashing over Gary Anderson in the group stages - in the lead up to the final, where he faced the Flying Scotsman once again. But he proved himself wrong and pretty much everyone else by keeping his cool to triumph 11-9.

The Austrian is just 12/1 to repeat his heroics this weekend although he'll (secretly) fancy his chances of finishing in the top two of a group also containing Peter Wright, Rob Cross and Simon Whitlock.

Michael van Gerwen, obviously, is favourite at 10/11 and although he faces Gary Anderson in the group stages, he should see off Daryl Gurney and Dave Chisnall to avoid a repeat of last year's early exit.

In both stagings of this event the finals have been repeats of a group stage meeting and there'll be no shortage of punters getting on the Van Gerwen - Anderson final. But I'm not going down that route...

Group A

Sky Bet odds to win group in brackets, followed by 'to qualify' odds

  • Michael van Gerwen (2/5, 1/10)
  • Gary Anderson (5/2, 1/3)
  • Daryl Gurney (18/1, 3/1)
  • Dave Chisnall (18/1, 3/1)

Prediction: Anderson 1st, MVG 2nd

No one needs telling why Michael van Gerwen is favourite although it's strange to be pondering whether he's had a 'difficult season' or not when he's won 16 tournaments AND the World Cup with Raymond van Barneveld!

He got over his World Championship trauma by landing the Masters at the start of the year before bagging the lucrative Premier League Darts title for the fourth time as he averaged 112.37 against Michael Smith.

Those kind of performances make him almost unbeatable but he suffered shock early defeats at the UK Open and World Matchplay - both to Jeffrey de Zwaan - and only won one of the six World Series of Darts events.

His last appearance on the PDC circuit resulted in a 6-1 hammering to William O'Connor at the Dutch Darts Championship.

So in short, these vulnerabilities make it hard for me to advise anyone to back him at odds-on prices and in terms of topping this group, I quite like Gary Anderson.

Especially considering he nearly quite the Premier League due to injury in February, the Flying Scotsman has enjoyed a stunning season, which really got rolling when winning the UK Open at a freezing Minehead for the first time in his career.

He topped that this summer when becoming only the third player after Taylor and MVG to complete the Triple Crown of Darts as he overcame his bogey player Suljovic in a compelling World Matchplay final.

It's like he's on a mission to scoop up the remaining trophies he's not yet won - and the Champions League is the next on his list ahead of the World Grand Prix at the start of October.

I was extremely fortunate to be in Blackpool that week when he sent the Winter Gardens crowd wild with a nine-darter and he's going to be hard to live with in Brighton.

Interestingly any player who hits a nine-darter in Brighton this weekend won't pocket a £50,000 bonus from sponsors Paddy Power. That will instead be shared by the crowd attending the event!

I don't want to be accused of dismissing Daryl Gurney, who could be recharged after taking a five-week break following his World Matchplay disappointment, and Dave Chisnall but neither have shown the kind of form this year to give me much confidence of them troubling both MVG and Anderson, which they'll need to do if they're to stand a chance of topping the group.

They are both 3/1 to qualify for the group and that's not tempting enough. If you're strong on them you may as well back them to win the whole thing.

Group B

Sky Bet odds to win group in brackets, followed by 'to qualify' odds

  • Rob Cross (6/4, 1/2)
  • Peter Wright (9/4, 8/13)
  • Mensur Suljovic (5/2, 8/11)
  • Simon Whitlock (8/1, 3/1)

Prediction: Cross 1st, Suljovic 2nd

Mensur Suljovic is unbeaten in this tournament with five wins from five last year and it's more than fair to say the popular Austrian has built on his landmark success in the 12 months since.

Although he was relegated in his debut Premier League season - albeit having played very well at times - Suljovic won his second TV title at the German Darts Masters in May before losing that thrilling World Matchplay final 21-19 to Gary Anderson.

On tour he's regularly reaching the latter stages of tournaments and while I back him to get through, it is really tough to call this group.

World champion Rob Cross is the marginal favourite to top it ahead of Peter Wright while Suljovic is next in the running ahead of outsider Simon Whitlock, which I guess is fair.

The Aussie has worse head-to-head records against all three although only by one against Suljovic (7-6) and Cross (4-3, 1 draw) so don't rule out a surprise result to upset the apple cart.

Ultimately I feel Whitlock will miss out alongside Peter Wright, even though he has won more titles this season out of this trio with three.

Suljovic has beaten Snakebite in all four of their 2018 encounters including in the World Matchplay semi-finals, the German Darts Masters and their sole Premier League encounter, which finished 7-1 noless, while at the back end of last year he got the better of him in the group stages of this event and the World Grand Prix.

Voltage also has a superior overall head-to-head record over Wright of 7-4 and has won five of their seven meetings this season, including the last three at the World Series of Darts tournaments in Las Vegas, Shanghai and Brisbane.

As a southerner, the former electrician will also have the benefit of the home crowd and in conjunction with the confidence he gained from triumphing in Brisbane in August - his first TV title since the world championship - I fancy him to top this group.

Overall winner

I can't argue with MVG heading the betting and I'm sure plenty of big hitters will want to lump on Sky Bet's Price Boost of 10/11 but he's always too short for me.

If my table topping predictions are correct then Cross will meet van Gerwen in the semi-finals and that's more preferable for the champ than facing Anderson believe it or not.

Voltage beat MVG en route to the world title and after losing their next three battles, he claimed an impressive 11-6 victory in the final of the Brisbane Darts Masters last month, averaging 104. Not even a 170 checkout from the Dutchman could knock him off his stride.

It looks as though the Hastings man could really be starting to find his top form again as we head into these huge few months of darts but to be honest I don't think he was as below par as many made out.

We've also got to bare in mind it's been by far a busier and more gruelling season than his historic debut campaign and it was always going to take time to adjust. It's amazing really that he qualified for the Premier League Play-Offs so comfortably but that is often overlooked when assessing his year.

His record against Anderson, who he'll probably have to face at some point although not guaranteed, is poor but his sole victory in eight attempts did at least come on a televised stage in the Premier League.

Cross is my pick at 6/1.

Recommended bets

1pt Gary Anderson to top Group A at 3/1

1pt Rob Cross to top Group B at 6/4

1pt Rob Cross to win the Champions League of Darts at 6/1

CLICK HERE TO PLACE YOUR BETS

Champions League of Darts odds

Prices below are boosted by Sky Bet

  • Michael van Gerwen 10/11 from 8/11
  • Gary Anderson 9/2 from 7/2
  • Rob Cross 6/1 from 5/1
  • Peter Wright 8/1 from 7/1
  • Mensur Suljovic 12/1 from 10/1
  • Dave Chisnall 33/1 from 28/1
  • Daryl Gurney 40/1 from 33/1
  • Simon Whitlock 66/1 from 50/1

Champions League of Darts tables & format

The four eight players will be split into two groups of four players, with the top two progressing to the semi-finals.

Scroll down for daily match schedule

GROUP A

  1. Michael van Gerwen P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
  2. Gary Anderson P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
  3. Daryl Gurney P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
  4. Dave Chisnall P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0

GROUP B

  1. Peter Wright P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
  2. Rob Cross P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
  3. Mensur Suljovic P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
  4. Simon Whitlock P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0

Group Format

  • The players will play each other once, in best-of-19 legs play matches, with two points for a win. The two players who win their opening group games will play each other on Saturday evening, with the two losing players facing each other. The remaining games take place on Sunday afternoon.
  • The top two in each group will go through to the semi-final. If players are equal on points then leg difference comes into play. If still level then it goes on head-to-head record. If three players are tied for Points and Leg Difference, then a nine‐dart shoot‐out will be played between the players on stage to determine placings.
  • The group winners will play the runners-up of the other group over 21 legs, with the two semi-final winners then meeting with the trophy and a cheque of £100,000 on the line. That too will be played over 21 legs.

Champions League of Darts: Daily Schedule & Results

Click here to place your bets

Saturday September 22
Afternoon Session
Group Stage Matches (Best of 19 legs)
Live on BBC 1 from 1315-1630 BST

  • Rob Cross v Mensur Suljovic (B)
  • Peter Wright v Simon Whitlock (B)
  • Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney (A)
  • Michael van Gerwen v Dave Chisnall (A)

Evening Session
Group Stage (Best of 19 legs)
Live on BBC 2 from 1845-2215 BST

  • Four Matches

Saturday afternoon's winning players face each other, and the losing players face each other in each group.

Sunday September 25
Afternoon Session
Group Stage (Best of 19 legs)
Live on BBC 2 from 1315-1630 BST

  • Four Matches

Evening Session
Knockout Stages (Best of 21 legs)
Live on BBC 2 from 1830-2200 BST

Semi-Finals

  • Winner Group A v Runner-up Group B
  • Winner Group B v Runner-up Group A

Final (best of 21 legs)

  • Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2

CLICK HERE FOR FULL TOURNAMENT GUIDE INCLUDING PLAYER PROFILES

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