Champions League of Darts Day One: Evening Report!

DARTS

Phil Taylor battled past his old rival Raymond van Barneveld to remain on course to retain his Champions League of Darts title, whilst Mensur Suljovic continued his dream debut by edging out Peter Wright to secure his place in Sunday’s semi-finals on a dramatic night of action at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.

Phil Taylor’s impeccable record at the Champions League of Darts continued as he battled past his old adversary Raymond van Barneveld to seal control of Group A. Neither player were at their vintage best, but ‘The Power’ prevailed 10-6 after averaging 92.52, landing five maximums and dispatching 38% of his darts at double.

There were only two breaks of throw in the entire contest and Van Barneveld was left to rue missed opportunities, but the five-time world champion is still firmly in contention to qualify after his afternoon heroics against Michael van Gerwen.

Barney drew first blood in the opener with an assured 67 finish for a 14-dart hold, before Taylor levelled up the match with a 15-darter. The next two legs went with throw, before Van Barneveld closed out a 14-darter after the pair had exchanged maximums earlier in the leg.

Taylor was throwing sublimely on his own throw and that pattern continued in the sixth leg, as ‘The Power’ landed his second 180 and took out 81 to complete a fine 12-darter. Van Barneveld then registered his second maximum and sank D4 for the seventh successive hold of throw, before Taylor powered in a 120 checkout to level once more.

Both darting legends had been ruthless on their own throw, but the 16-time world champion pounced on two missed darts from RvB to peg D5 and secure the lead for the first time. Taylor then cemented this break of throw with a clinical 92 checkout, having fired in a visit of 177 earlier in the leg.

Van Barneveld emerged reinvigorated after the break; piling in a third maximum and effortlessly converting a 76 checkout for a 14-darter. However, the biggest moment of the contest came in leg twelve.

The five-time world champion landed his fourth maximum and appeared destined to level the tie at six apiece, but he spurned five darts at double and Taylor gratefully capitalised on this error by hitting D20 to retain his slender lead.

Barney powered in a 13-darter as he continued to battle away, but the Stoke-on-Trent ace produced some clinical arrows in the latter stages; registering successive 14-darters to lead 9-6. Van Barneveld piled in a fifth maximum as he fought to stay alive, but he missed tops for a 117 finish and Taylor hit the same target to seal a valuable two points.

Michael van Gerwen kept alive his hopes of qualification with an emphatic 10-4 win over a beleaguered Adrian Lewis. The world number one was humbled by Raymond van Barneveld on Saturday afternoon, but he is now dead level with his compatriot heading into the final set of fixtures on Sunday afternoon.

‘The Green Machine’ wasn’t at his explosive best but still cruised to victory with a 97.18 average, two maximums and a 48% checkout success rate. Lewis also landed two 180’s and converted 57% of his shots at double, but he endured a nightmare in the scoring department, averaging a miserly 85.13.

Van Gerwen kicked off the tussle with a fine 14-darter on tops, but ‘Jackpot’ levelled up the contest after delivering a majestic 170 finish out of absolutely nowhere. However, this didn’t spark the Stoke star into action, as MvG won the next two legs to seize the early initiative.

Lewis reduced the arrears to 3-2 with a 15-dart leg, but Van Gerwen produced a 13-darter via D16 to retain control. ‘Jackpot’ was being completely and utterly outscored but his finishing was keeping him afloat, as he held his nerve to dispatch a 94 kill to stay alive at 4-3.

Nevertheless, Lewis was unable to make any inroads into Van Gerwen’s throw and the Dutchman breezed to victory after winning six of the remaining seven legs. He closed out proceedings in style; following up a stunning visit of 174 by pegging D8 for a 13-dart match winning salvo.

Mensur Suljovic’s dream Champions League debut continued as he edged out Peter Wright in a thrilling affair to guarantee his place in the semi-finals. ‘The Gentle’ averaged 102.77, piled in an incredible ten maximums and converted 37% of his attempts to follow up his victory over Gary Anderson by upsetting another Scottish star.

Wright kicked off proceedings with a clinical 76 kill for an instant break of throw, but Suljovic eventually levelled via D1, having landed back-to-back 177s earlier in the leg. The Austrian then closed out a 15-dart hold via D8 after Wright missed the bull for a 161, but the world number three pegged tops moments later to level at 2-2.

The next three legs all went with throw, which included clinical finishes of 105 and 67 from Suljovic, before he nailed D10 for a pivotal break of throw to establish daylight for the first time. He maintained this cushion heading into the break, before producing a sensational 11-dart leg in the eleventh to lead 7-4.

‘Snakebite’ reduced the arrears to the solitary leg after the Austrian uncharacteristically spurned darts at double, but Wright then wired D12 for a 101 finish which would have levelled the tie, and Suljovic posted his trusted D14 to regain control of the contest.

Nevertheless, the world number three produced two tremendous legs to continue the fightback. He conjured up an inspired 144 finish (T18, T18, D18) for a vital break of throw, before closing out an effortless 13-darter via D8 to level up proceedings at 8-8.

The match essentially became a best of three affair, but Suljovic held his nerve tremendously to prevail. He dispatched a nerveless 82 kill to round off a stunning 11-dart leg to edge closer to victory, which he duly sealed after following up his tenth 180 by sinking D8, which provoked jubilant scenes of celebration from the Austrian.

Elesewhere in Group B, Gary Anderson kept alive his hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals with a hard-fought 10-7 win over Dave Chisnall, who now cannot make it through to the last four. The St Helen’s star landed seven maximums but converted just 26% of his attempts at double, as Anderson triumphed with an impressive 101.80 average.

The opening three legs all went against throw, before Anderson landed his second maximum and found tops to establish some daylight at 3-1. The pair were showing real frailty in the finishing department as the next two legs went against throw, before Chisnall conjured up a spectacular 11-darter out of nowhere to reduce the arrears to 4-3.

Anderson regained his two-leg lead on D10 despite busting a 100 checkout earlier in the leg, before ‘Chizzy’ completed a fine 13-darter on tops. The world number six then had an opportunity to level up the contest heading into the interval, but he failed to take out 102 and the Scot capitalised; sinking D1 to lead 6-4.

Chisnall landed another 13-darter to maintain the pressure on Anderson, but missed doubles again haunted the Englishman in the following leg. The St Helen’s star spurned three clear darts to level at six apiece, as ‘The Flying Scotsman’ gratefully capitalised via D10.

The two-time world champion then registered successive 13-darters to move to the brink of victory at 9-5, but Chisnall continued to toil and stayed alive with a 78 checkout, before completing a 12-darter to further reduce the arrears to 9-7.

However, for the third leg in succession, Anderson had a dart at bullseye to triumph and on this occasion he grasped it; wrapping up victory with a clinical 124 kill, to set up a straight shootout with his compatriot Peter Wright on Sunday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Evening Session (6.45pm) – live on BBC Two
Second Group Matches
Gary Anderson 10-7 Dave Chisnall
Peter Wright 8-10 Mensur Suljovic
Phil Taylor 10-6 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen 10-4 Adrian Lewis

Sunday September 17
Afternoon Session (1pm)

Final Group Matches
Dave Chisnall v Mensur Suljovic
Gary Anderson v Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor

Evening Session (6.30pm)
Semi-Finals
Final

League Tables

Group A

P W L +/- Pts
Phil Taylor 2 2 0 +7 4
Raymond van Barneveld 2 1 1 +1 2
Michael van Gerwen 2 1 1 +1 2
Adrian Lewis 2 0 2 -9 0

Group B

P W L +/- Pts
Mensur Suljovic (Q) 2 2 0 +9 4
Peter Wright 2 1 1 +3 2
Gary Anderson 2 1 1 -4 2
Dave Chisnall 2 0 2 -8 0

 

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