A review of the opening day of the Paddy Power Champions League of Darts, as Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen progressed to the semi-finals but Rob Cross and Gary Anderson crashed out.
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There will be a new name of the Paddy Power Champions League of Darts trophy after defending champion Gary Anderson crashed out on the opening day of group stage action.
The Flying Scotsman, who followed in the footsteps of Phil Taylor and Mensur Suljovic by so memorably winning the third staging of the BBC-televised event in 2018, threw away a 5-1 lead against Michael Smith during the afternoon session to lose 10-7 and was then beaten in a last-leg decider by James Wade to leave him pointless after two Group A matches at Leicester's Morningside Arena.
Anderson then needed his protege Smith to do him a favour by defeating favourite Michael van Gerwen in the last game of the night to keep his hopes mathematically alive but in a repeat of the World Championship final, it was the Dutchman who triumphed once more by a 10-6 scoreline that also sealed his place in the semi-finals with a now dead rubber match against his old rival to spare.
Wade earlier held his nerve brilliantly as he won the last three legs of the match to edge out the Flying Scotsman 10-9 and stay in the tournament having lost his previous fixture to MVG.
It was also the Machine's first televised victory over him since 2016 and ended a winless run of six matches against the two-time world champion, which included a draw in the 2017 Premier League.
The European and World Series of Darts Finals champion, who will defend both of those crowns in the coming weeks, came into this tournament with high hopes having claimed five Pro Tour titles this season but his chances lay on a knife edge when Anderson opened up a 7-5 lead in a gripping contest that had only featured three legs won in more than 14 legs until that point.
The Aldershot thrower levelled the contest with back-to-back 16-darters only for Anderson to take the next two legs in 13 and 14 darts and move to the brink of victory.
Wade pulled one back with a 14-darter before a stunning checkout from 121 completed a 12-darter, with his opponent waiting on 50, to force a tense decider that he nicked before Anderson had a chance on tops.
Anderson's fate was sealed when MVG followed up his earlier victory over Wade with a largely dominant 10-6 triumph over Smith, who will now face the Machine on Sunday afternoon for the right to join the Dutchman in the last four.
Van Gerwen raced into a 5-0 lead thanks to checkouts from 110, 80, 118 and 70 before taking advantage of Bully Boy's double troubles in the fifth leg.
World Matchplay runner-up Smith, who is still seeking his first televised major, got off the mark in style with a 127 checkout to complete a 12-darter while three 14-darters on the trot saw him continue his stirring comeback.
MVG nicked the last leg before the interval to extend his lead to 6-4 before easing his way to the finishing line, which he crossed with an average of 100.19 compared to his opponent's 98.
The St Helens man did hit three more 180s with eight but was much poorer on the doubles, converting just six of his 23 attempts as van Gerwen pinned 10 of his 18.
Peter Wright became the first man to book his place in the semi-finals after an absorbing 10-8 victory over Gerwyn Price gave him a second win out of two.
The result also confirmed the early elimination of Rob Cross, who suffered his second defeat on the opening day of the BBC-televised major to Daryl Gurney.
Snakebite produced a far superior display to the sloppy one that barely saw him scrap past Gurney during the afternoon session and this was in no small part down to him switching back to the same flights he used when setting a new world record average for a broadcasted match last Monday and winning a fourth title of the season 24 hours later.
The regular darts tinkerer fired in six 180s and averaged 102.82 against Price while he also landed two show-stopping checkouts from 161 and 125, with the latter achieved by a pair of bullseyes either side of a 25.
His finish from 161, which was set up by a 180, not only completed a stunning 12-darter in the fourth leg to level the scores at 2-2, but also silenced a huge roar from his opponent, who had just pinned three treble 19s in a thrilling spell of darts.
Snakebite followed this up with scores of 140, 180 and 145 during a second successive 12-darter but Price was equally playing his part in a particularly mesmerisingly purple patch for both players, who were averaging around 110 at that point.
Price won't be able to beat himself up too much about losing having averaged 100.34 while he hit four 180s, converted eight of his 15 double attempts and produced a pair of 100+ checkouts of his own, including one from 130 on the bullseye.
The Welshman, who brilliantly put away Cross 10-5 during the afternoon session, looked as though he'd stolen momentum from Wright when an 11-darter squared the match at 8-8 but he was unable to have a crack at a double in the next two legs.
Price will now take on a now bald Gurney, who had his head shaved tonight after raising £11,000 for Cystic Fibrosis, in a do-or-die Group B contest on Sunday for a place in the semi-finals after the Northern Irishman overcame some late jitters to pull the plug on Voltage.
Gurney had spurned 33 attempts at doubles during his awful 10-7 defeat to Wright earlier in the day but cut a completely different figure on the oche when surging into an 7-1 thanks to checkouts of 160 and 142, which completed a 12-darter to add to the 11-darter in the opening leg.
The World Matchplay champion showed the similar kind of late spirit that helped him pull off that incredible comeback against Gurney in the Blackpool semi-finals as he cut the deficit to 6-8 but on this occasion it was too little too late.
Michael van Gerwen launched his quest for a maiden Paddy Power Champions League of Darts title with an enthralling 10-8 victory over James Wade in his opening Group A match.
The world number one headed to Leicester's Morningside Arena on the back of a 50th PDC televised triumph - and 36th 'major' - at last weekend's World Grand Prix in Dublin - but so far this BBC-screened tournament has eluded him in three previous stagings.
MVG, who has only reached the final once when losing 11-5 to Phil Taylor in 2016, was forced to produce a stellar display by the impressive Machine and averaged 103.4 with help from nine maximums and a 50% checkout percentage.
Wade contributed six maximums of his own in an average of 98.84 as he fought back from 7-4 down against the world champion before levelling it up at 7-7 and 8-8 only for MVG to close it out with a 100 checkout and a 14-darter in the last two legs.
The Dutchman had earlier threatened a nine-dart finish, which would win the crowd an equal share of £100,000, but after seven perfect darts he hit single 19 and ended up losing the leg as Wade cut the deficit to 7-5.
Van Gerwen, who has won 11 titles since lifting his third Ally Pally trophy at the start of 2019, also reeled off stunning 11 and 12-darters during the match, finished off with 82 and 85 checkouts respectively.
The 30-year-old will now meet Michael Smith on Saturday evening after Bully Boy produced a fine comeback to defeat his mentor Gary Anderson 10-7.
Smith, who is seeking the first big televised major of his career after finishing runner-up on three occasions including the 2019 World Championship and World Matchplay, trailed the defending champion 5-1 but came storming back to take top spot in the embryonic standings.
Anderson looked every bit of the Flying Scotsman of old when surging into a 3-0 lead and that was soon 5-1 thanks to a 100 checkout followed by an 11-darter.
The St Helens man took four of the next five legs and then got the crowd excited with seven perfect darts at the start of the 12th, only for his nine-dart attempt to agonisingly fall short.
Smith got his nose in front at 7-6 and although Anderson levelled, he won the next three on the trot to claim victory with an average of 100.64 while he hit one more maximum with seven and pinned 10 of his 24 double attempts.
Earlier in Group B, Gerwyn Price made a winning start to his Champions League of Darts debut with a highly-impressive 10-5 victory over Rob Cross.
The Grand Slam of Darts champion, who will defend his maiden major title next month in Wolverhampton, is competing at the BBC-televised event for the first time having broken into the world's top eight thanks to winning four tournaments this season.
And he's given himself a great chance of getting through the group stages by defeating the World Matchplay king with room to spare in his opening match at Leicester's Morningside Arena.
Price produced a consistent high standard throughout the contest, averaging 99 and throwing seven 180s while Cross will feel disappointed by his own display, especially on his doubles as he missed 10 of his 15 attempts.
The 2018 runner-up Peter Wright won seven of the last eight legs as he came from 6-3 down to defeat Daryl Gurney 10-7 in a match of many missed doubles.
Snakebite, who set a world record average for a broadcast match in midweek with 123.5, averaged a shade under 90 against Gurney but his opponent was down on 85 after spurning 33 attempts to finish.
Wright missed 22 of his own and will certainly need to brush up on that area of the game for the rest of the tournament.
"I didn't settle and I'm disappointed with how I played, but I got away with the two points," said Wright. "That's behind me now and I can get ready for my second match."
Champions League of Darts 2019: Tables & results
- (Q) Michael van Gerwen P 2 W 2 L 0 LegDiff +6 Pts 4
- Michael Smith P 2 W 1 L 1 LegDiff -1 Pts 2
- James Wade P 2 W 1 L 1 LegDiff -1 Pts 2
- Gary Anderson P 2 W 0 L 2 LegDiff -4 Pts 0 (Eliminated)
- (Q) Peter Wright P 2 W 2 L 0 LegDiff +5 Pts 4
- Gerwyn Price P 2 W 1 L 1 LegDiff +3 Pts 2
- Daryl Gurney P 2 W 1 L 1 LegDiff +1 Pts 2
- Rob Cross P 2 W 0 L 2 LegDiff -9 Pts 0 (Eliminated)
Saturday October 19
Group Stage Matches (Best of 19 legs)
- Daryl Gurney 7-10 Peter Wright (Group B)
- Rob Cross 5-10 Gerwyn Price (Group B)
- Michael Smith 10-7 Gary Anderson (Group A)
- Michael van Gerwen 10-8 James Wade (Group A)
Group Stage (Best of 19 legs)
- Daryl Gurney 10-6 Rob Cross (Group B)
- Peter Wright 10-8 Gerwyn Price (Group B)
- James Wade 10-9 Gary Anderson (Group A)
- Michael Smith 6-10 Michael van Gerwen (Group A)
Sunday October 20
Group Stage (Best of 19 legs)
Live on BBC 2 from 1230 BST
- Rob Cross v Peter Wright (Group B)
- Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price (Group B)
- Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson (Group A)
- Michael Smith v James Wade (Group A)
Knockout Stages (Best of 21 legs)
Live on BBC 2 from 1830-2200 BST
- Winner Group A v Runner-up Group B (SF 1)
- Winner Group B v Runner-up Group A (SF 2)
Final (best of 21 legs)
- Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2
Related darts links
- 2020 Premier League venues & dates
- 2019 PDC event calendar & results
- 2019 Premier League darts results
- 2018 PDC event calendar & results
- 2018 Premier League darts results
- Sky Bet's darts odds