Phil Taylor produced a vintage display to dismantle Michael van Gerwen on the opening night of the inaugural Champions League of Darts at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on Saturday evening, which was broadcast live on the BBC.
The 16-time world champion averaged a mightily impressive 107.49 and took out four-ton plus checkouts to record a 10-4 win over the world number one, to mathematically secure himself a place in the semi-finals.
Incredibly, nine of the first ten legs went against the throw as Taylor led 6-4 at the break. ‘The Power’ then capitalised on missed doubles from MvG to establish an 8-4 cushion, before Taylor rounded off a stunning 10-4 victory with 138 and 120 checkouts in the final two legs of the encounter, to bring MvG’s astonishing 36-game unbeaten run to an end.
Earlier in the day, the 56-year-old kicked off his campaign with a convincing victory over world number five Peter Wright. ‘The Power’ averaged 102.66, took out a stunning 154 finish and hit 48% of his attempts at double. Wright averaged a respectable 97.30, but he was punished for hitting just 36% of his double attempts.
Meanwhile, MvG reeled off five straight legs to defeat World Grand-Prix champion Robert Thornton in his opening group game. ‘The Thorn’ posted seven maximums as the scores were locked at five apiece at the first interval. However ‘The Green Machine’ exploded after the interval, winning five legs without reply, finishing with a 97.30 average.
Elsewhere, Gary Anderson enjoyed a perfect start to his Champions League campaign, with victories over his protégé Michael Smith, and James Wade. Anderson and Smith contested the opening match of the tournament and ‘The Flying Scotsman’ prevailed 10-5.
There was only the solitary maximum hit in the entire contest- which went to Smith, which is particularly surprising given the scoring prowess of both players. However, the world champion made up for a lack of maximums with some clinical finishing, averaging 96.86 and converting 59% of his attempts at double.
Anderson faced eight-time major winner James Wade in the evening session, after Wade had dismantled two-time world champion Adrian Lewis. ‘The Machine’ averaged 103.49, took out a sublime 161 finish and hit 56% of his doubles to record an emphatic 10-3 victory over Jackpot.
However, Wade was unable to replicate those heroics against Anderson, who survived a late fightback from the left-hander to close out a 10-7 triumph. Anderson led 7-2, but Wade reduced the arrears to 7-4 with a magnificent 164 kill.
The Scot recovered to lead 9-5, but incredibly he missed 9 match darts over the course of the next two legs. Wade missed tops for the chance to reduce the deficit to 9-8, allowing Anderson to eventually clinch victory with an 82 checkout culminating on D7, to seal the win with a 94.62 average.
In the first match of the evening session, Adrian Lewis kept his qualification hopes alive with a hard-fought 10-8 victory over Michael Smith, leaving Bully-Boy’s qualification hopes hanging by a thread. Whilst the scoreline was extremely tight, Lewis dominated the scoring stakes, averaging 95.85 to Smith’s 87.28.
Peter Wright also kept his hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive, as he prevailed in an attritional contest against his compatriot Robert Thornton. Wright averaged 94.3 en route to clinching a 10-6 victory, and he’ll face Michael van Gerwen in a straight shootout for a place in the semi-finals tomorrow afternoon.
Unibet Champions League of Darts
Saturday September 24
First Group Matches
Gary Anderson 10-5 Michael Smith (B)
Adrian Lewis 3-10 James Wade (B)
Phil Taylor 10-5 Peter Wright (A)
Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Robert Thornton (A)
Second Group Matches
Adrian Lewis 10-8 Michael Smith (B)
Gary Anderson 10-7 James Wade (B)
Michael van Gerwen 4-10 Phil Taylor (A)
Peter Wright 10-6 Robert Thornton (A)