Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson secured their Champions League of Darts semi-final spots with dramatic deciding-leg victories over Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright, as Raymond van Barneveld joined Mensur Suljovic in the last four on a dramatic afternoon of action at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.
Taylor’s incredible Champions League record continued as he edged out Michael van Gerwen in a high-quality affair, which saw the world number one unceremoniously dumped out in the group-stages. Taylor defeated MvG twice in last year’s competition and remains on course to retain his crown after gaining the better of ‘Mighty Mike’.
Van Gerwen gave it his all, averaging 102.89, landing ten maximums and dispatching 41% of his attempts at double. However, he squandered opportunities at crucial moments and Taylor’s experience saw the legendary Stoke-on-Trent star record his third consecutive win against the world number one.
The Dutchman made a blistering start to the contest, landing maximums in each of the opening two legs. He won the opener with a special 127 outshot on the bullseye, before extending his lead with a brilliant 11-dart hold. Taylor then opened his account with an important 116 finish, before MvG found D8 to restore his two-leg cushion.
‘The Power’ knew that eight legs would be sufficient to seal his spot in the last-four and he reeled off three straight legs to seal the initiative. He produced a 14-darter to hold throw, before taking out 81 for a 12-dart break to level. MvG had momentarily lost his focus and was punished, as Taylor edged 4-3 ahead with a 105 average.
Van Gerwen responded strongly and squared up the tussle with a classy 130 outshot on the bullseye, but he then squandered five clear darts in the following leg, which enabled Taylor to edge back in front once more. This visibly deflated MvG and the Stoke star pounced, completing a 14-dart break to head into the interval with a 6-4 advantage.
‘The Green Machine’ knew he needed to win six of the remaining seven legs to qualify for the semi-finals, but he made the ideal start; producing finishes of 66 and 80 to level up at six apiece. Nevertheless, Taylor stopped the mini-rot with a confident 13-dart hold on tops to move to the brink of qualification.
The world number one stayed alive via D16 after Taylor missed the bull for a 161, but the 16-time world champion guaranteed his progression moments later; converting a pressure 107 finish on tops to knock out Van Gerwen, which provoked jubilant scenes of celebration from the 57-year-old.
Van Gerwen was desperately disappointed but took out a consolation 117 finish to level at 8-8, before the next two legs went with throw to force a dramatic decider. ‘The Power’ had the advantage of throw and he made it count; sinking D10 for a 15-dart hold to triumph with a 102.09 average and a 50% checkout conversion rate.
Elsewhere, Gary Anderson survived eight match darts as he edged past his fellow Scot Peter Wright in an enthralling shootout in Group B. The task for both was relatively simple; victory would secure their semi-final spot, and it was a thrilling tussle between the men ranked 2nd and 3rd in the world respectively.
Anderson fired in an incredible 11 maximums in a barrage of scoring, averaging 99.41 in the process. Wright boasted a slightly higher average of 100.15, but was ultimately left to rue his 28% checkout success rate; squandering eight match darts across the final two legs.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ made a blistering start to the contest, piling in two maximums and taking out 82 for a 12-dart hold. Anderson then registered his third maximum early in leg two, but Wright levelled via D5.
The world number two regained the lead with a clinical 72 checkout, but ‘Snakebite’ posted a 13-darter for a fourth successive hold. The UK Open champion then landed a stunning 177 to pressure his countryman, but a 14-darter from Anderson put him back in front, before he secured the first break of throw after Wright missed three at double.
However, the colourful Scot responded instantly. He landed D4 to break back having wired the bull for a 161 finish in the preceding visit, before defying Anderson’s sixth maximum to restore parity at four apiece.
Gary regained the upper hand after nailing D2, before kicking off the tenth leg with five perfect darts. Nevertheless, Wright powered in a brilliant 120 checkout under extreme pressure to ensure there was nothing separating the pair heading into the interval.
The two-time world champion kicked off the second session with a clinical 91 kill to move ahead once more, but Wright’s tenacity continued as he responded with a 13-dart leveller. Anderson edged back in front by virtue of his ninth maximum, before missing three darts at double for an 8-6 advantage, as ‘Snakebite’ gratefully hit tops to level at 7-7.
This appeared to be the decisive moment of the contest, as the world number three registered his fourth maximum and completed a 14-dart break to secure the lead for the very first time. Wright then kicked off the next leg with five perfect darts and sank D5 to move to the brink of a memorable triumph at 9-7.
Despite this, Anderson refused to relent and kept his hopes alive after following up his 11th maximum with an effortless 98 checkout for an 11-dart leg. He then had to rely on a multitude of missed doubles from his compatriot to stay in contention.
‘Snakebite’ led comfortably in the eighteenth leg but incredibly spurned seven match darts to close it out, which allowed a grateful Anderson to find D10 and force a dramatic decider. Anderson had the advantage of throw but saw Wright miss another match dart at D12, before hitting his trusted D20 to seal his progression in an absolute classic.
Raymond van Barneveld sealed his semi-final spot with a 10-2 drubbing over world number five Adrian Lewis. Lewis had lost his opening two group games against Taylor & Van Gerwen on Saturday, but Van Barneveld extinguished his hopes after producing a barrage of scoring to overpower the under-par Stoke star.
The five-time world champion kicked off proceedings with a fine 117 checkout to secure an instant 15-dart break of throw. He doubled his tally with a 13-darter, before converting a clinical 96 finish for a 3-0 lead, after Lewis had squandered darts at tops to hold.
Van Barneveld was then handed a major reprieve in the fourth leg, landing D2 to hold despite missing six darts at double. However, he was scoring magnificently and left 32 after just 9 darts in the following leg; eventually pegging D8 for a 14-darter and a commanding 5-0 cushion.
‘Jackpot’ was being totally outscored but also failed to take opportunities when they were presented to him and he missed a further two at double in the sixth leg, as Van Barneveld converted a clinical 68 kill for a 6-0 lead. Lewis finally opened his account with a 13-darter, but Barney retained his six-leg cushion after nailing D1.
The Stoke star sealed his second leg via D12, but the Dutchman retained total control of the contest after producing a cool 76 checkout to lead 8-2 at the interval. Van Barneveld was on the verge of a semi-final spot and he wasted little time in clinching his progression.
Lewis missed tops for a 157 finish in the eleventh leg and Van Barneveld capitalised; sinking D11 for a 14-dart break to move to the brink of victory. The 50-year-old then kicked off the twelfth leg with his fifth 180, before wrapping up victory via D4 for another 14-darter, with a 94.40 average and a 33% checkout success rate.
Finally, Mensur Suljovic sealed top spot in Group B with a convincing 10-5 win over Dave Chisnall, who departs Cardiff without a win to his name. Suljovic averaged 99.37, posted two maximums and converted 53% of his double attempts to prevail, as Chisnall averaged 98.76, landed four maximums and boasted a 63% checkout success rate.
The pair exchanged 15-dart holds in the first two legs with finishes of 87 and 80 respectively, before Suljovic landed his first maximum and pegged D14 to hold. The Austrian then secured the first break of throw via D10, but Chisnall responded magnificently, breaking back inside 11 darts after registering his first 180.
The topsy-turvy nature of the contest continued as Suljovic registered a 14-darter via D16 for the third consecutive break, before he dispatched a clinical 80 kill to lead 5-2. The next four legs all went with throw, before Chisnall kept his hopes alive by following a stunning visit of 177 with a 13-dart hold via D18 to reduce the arrears to 7-5.
The St Helen’s star then left 42 after 9 darts in the following leg as he attempted to overturn the deficit, but Suljovic conjured up majestic finishes of 86 and 125 for successive 12-darters to seal total control of the contest. Moments later, he clinched the win via D8 to maintain his 100% record and set up a semi-final showdown against RvB.
Unibet Champions League of Darts
Sunday September 17
Final Group Matches
Dave Chisnall 5-10 Mensur Suljovic – Mensur Suljovic qualifies as Group B winner
Gary Anderson 10-9 Peter Wright – Gary Anderson qualifies as Group B runner-up
Adrian Lewis 2-10 Raymond van Barneveld – Raymond van Barneveld qualifies as Group A runner-up
Michael van Gerwen 9-10 Phil Taylor – Phil Taylor qualifies as Group A winner
Evening Session (6.30pm)
Mensur Suljovic v Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Taylor/Anderson v Suljovic/Van Barneveld
|Phil Taylor (Q)||3||3||0||+8||6|
|Raymond van Barneveld (Q)||3||2||1||+9||4|
|Michael van Gerwen||3||1||2||0||2|
|Mensur Suljovic (Q)||3||3||0||+14||6|
|Gary Anderson (Q)||3||2||1||-3||4|