Quotes from Gary Anderson, Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross, Mensur Suljovic & Daryl Gurney ahead of the Champions League of Darts
The world's top stars will do battle in Brighton this weekend for the third staging of the Paddy Power Champions League of Darts.
The BBC-televised tournament sees the eight highest-ranked players competing across four sessions at The Brighton Centre, with a round-robin group stage followed by the semi-finals and final on Sunday evening.
Group A features two-time World Champions Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson, who are joined by World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney and multiple TV finalist Dave Chisnall.
Scroll down for full fixture schedule & tournament tables
Reigning champion Mensur Suljovic heads up Group B along with World Champion Rob Cross, world number two Peter Wright and Australia's Simon Whitlock.
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
Suljovic defeated Anderson 11-9 in last year's thrilling final, and the World Matchplay finalist can't wait to fight for the £100,000 top prize once again.
"The best memory was the moment that final double 14 went in to win the tournament," said Suljovic, who doubled his televised title tally at the German Darts Masters in May.
"It was a fantastic moment for me, if you watch the replay of that moment it was perfect. I couldn’t believe it that I'd won such a big event on my favourite double!
"At the moment, I’m in the mix to be classed as one of the best players in the world, but I’m always looking for improvement with every tournament.
"The feeling I get when the fans sing my name is amazing. It helps a lot too and I’m really grateful for the reaction I get, not just on stage but also meeting the fans when I’m out and about."
The Austrian begins his title defence in Saturday afternoon's opening match against Cross, who is looking forward to playing in front of a home Sussex crowd across the weekend.
"I'm feeling nice and refreshed for this one and I'm really looking forward to playing in front of a local crowd," said Cross, who lives in nearby Hastings.
"I feel good, I've been practicing well and I'm feeling quietly confident for this weekend.
"My expectation levels are high and maybe I haven't won enough over the last five months, but now I've got a lot of chances to change that for the rest of the year."
Van Gerwen takes on Chisnall on Saturday afternoon, with the world number one eager to get his hands on the Champions League trophy for the first time.
"I was runner-up to Phil Taylor two years ago and last year was a bit of a disaster for me so I am really determined to put it right and win the title," said Van Gerwen, who suffered a group stage exit 12 months ago.
"I’ve had a nice break with my family but now it is back to business and this tournament for me is the start of the big run of big events up to the World Championship.
"This is the time of year you need to be at your best and I am fully focused on winning as much as I can for the next few months. That starts in Brighton."
Saturday afternoon's opening fixtures will also see Anderson face Gurney in Group A, while Wright will take on Whitlock in Group B.
Scottish star Anderson has already won the UK Open and World Matchplay titles during 2018 and is targeting another big triumph on Sunday night.
"It's the top eight, the best players in the world so if you come out winning this tournament, you've done well," said Anderson. "They're all top-class players and it's going to be a good event.
"I don't put myself under any pressure and I'm playing well, so hopefully that carries on to this weekend."
Gurney enjoyed a memorable 2017, culminating in his unforgettable World Grand Prix triumph which helped propel the Northern Irishman to world number five and into the eight-man field at The Brighton Centre this weekend.
Following a disappointing second round exit at July's World Matchplay, Gurney has enjoyed a return to form in September after a five-week break from action and is now ready to make a big return live on the BBC.
"August was my first break from darts in almost two-and-a-half years but it was a good chance to recharge my batteries, spend time with son and now I'm ready to go.
"From now until the Worlds takes complete focus and it will be January before I know it, the next couple of months will fly by because we're so busy.
"I'm excited to be playing against the best players in the world again. Gary is a great player, I usually play quite well against him and we have good games so I'm looking forward to that one.
"It's a very tough group, it contains the best two players in the world in my opinion but I like the round-robin format and hopefully I can progress from the group.
The Paddy Power Champions League of Darts, offering £250,000 in prize money, will be broadcast live on BBC1 and BBC2 throughout the weekend, as well as through the PDC's series of international broadcast partners.
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
- Michael van Gerwen P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
- Gary Anderson P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
- Daryl Gurney P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
- Dave Chisnall P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
- Peter Wright P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
- Rob Cross P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
- Mensur Suljovic P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
- Simon Whitlock P 0 W 0 L 0 LegDiff 0 Pts 0
- 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
Saturday September 22
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)
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
Group Stage (Best of 19 legs)
Live on BBC 2 from 1315-1630 BST
- Four Matches
Knockout Stages (Best of 21 legs)
Live on BBC 2 from 1830-2200 BST
- 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