Gary Anderson sealed his third major title of the year after thrashing Peter Wright 11-4 to win his maiden Champions League of Darts crown on a thrilling day of action at the Brighton Centre on Sunday.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ was narrowly beaten in last year’s final, but he produced the goods on this occasion to add the Champions League to the UK Open and World Matchplay titles he won earlier this year.
The 47-year-old was struggling with a bad back throughout the day and came within millimetres of departing the tournament in the group-stage, but he held his nerve expertly to scoop the £100,000 winner’s prize and secure his eighth title of the season.
The final was an all-Scottish affair between Anderson and Peter Wright- who defeated Michael van Gerwen in a pulsating semi-final, but the world number four dominated from the outset. Anderson averaged 101.47, piled in seven maximums and boasted an impressive 65% checkout conversion rate to cap off a complete display.
Anderson made a blistering start to the final; kicking off proceedings with a maximum and converting a clinical 86 kill on D16 for a 12-dart break of throw, before doubling his lead with a 14-darter on D10. Wright halved the deficit on D16, only for Anderson to regain his two-leg lead via D19.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ extended his lead to 4-1 with a 14-dart break after Wright missed tops to hold throw, before Ando pinned D4 to continue his dominance. ‘Snakebite’ appeared fatigued after his semi-final heroics and Anderson moved into a 6-1 lead at the break; following up his second maximum with a majestic 10-dart leg culminating on D8.
The break appeared to disrupt the rhythm of the two-time world champion, which allowed Wright to reduce the arrears to 6-3. The world number two pegged D2 with his last dart in hand to register his second leg of the contest, before defying a third maximum from Anderson to hold throw courtesy of D8.
Normal service was resumed for ‘The Flying Scotsman’ as he dispatched a 96 kill on D19 to restore his four-leg cushion, but Wright continued to battle valiantly; nailing D10 to reduce the arrears to 7-4. However, ‘Snakebite’ was unable to replicate his semi-final comeback on this occasion, and Anderson displayed no finishing line nerves.
The world number four piled in his fourth maximum en route to a 13-dart hold on tops, before kicking off the following leg with back-to-back maximums. The Brighton crowd were desperate for the magical 9-darter but they had to settle for a 10- as Anderson pegged D18 at the first time of asking to continue the procession.
Ando moved to within a leg of victory after Wright spurned one dart at D5 to break, before clinching the title in sensational style. The two-time world champ crashed in his seventh maximum and followed that up with a sumptuous 165 to leave 16 after 9 darts; before dispatching D8 to seal victory with his third 10-dart leg of the final.
Speaking to the PDC, Anderson admitted: “It’s great. It’s been two days of hard work. The trebles went in, doubles went in, checkouts went out. I went to the break, came out, was a bit stiff again but I played alright. I was very lucky [in the group stage]. I hold my hands up, it should never have got that far, but that 140 was a good one.”
However, Anderson’s progress to his second straight Champions League of Darts final was incredibly dramatic. Following Daryl Gurney’s win over Dave Chisnall earlier in the afternoon, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ had to beat Van Gerwen in his final group game to qualify for the semi-finals.
Anderson led ‘Mighty Mike’ 7-3 at one stage, but the world number one fought back to restore parity at nine apiece and force a dramatic decider. The Scot had the advantage of throw but was forced to survive two match darts, before conjuring up an inspired 140 checkout to seal his progression and cause heartbreak for Gurney.
In the semi-finals, Anderson took on Mensur Suljovic in a repeat of the recent World Matchplay Final, and last year’s Champions League Final. ‘The Gentle’ stormed past Simon Whitlock 10-1 to confirm top spot in Group B and record his eighth straight victory in this competition, but he was comprehensively beaten by Anderson.
The Scot was struggling with a recurrence of his back problem which plagued him earlier this year, but his still produced a terrific display to brush past the defending champion. Anderson averaged 102.26, crashed in four maximums and converted 52% of his attempts at double to gain retribution for last year’s defeat to Suljovic.
Peter Wright endured a mixed opening day in Brighton, following up a hard-fought win over Simon Whitlock by losing out to Mensur Suljovic. This set up a decisive showdown against world champion Rob Cross for a place in the semi-finals, but ‘Snakebite’ ran out an emphatic winner on Sunday afternoon.
‘Voltage’ was the local favourite on his Champions League of Darts debut yet was under-par throughout; averaging just 89 and squandering seven of his ten attempts at a double. Wright was also a little astray in the finishing department but scored magnificently; averaging 101.77 and crashing in seven maximums en route to a commanding 10-3 win.
This set up a clash between the world’s top two in the semi-finals and it certainly didn’t disappoint, as Wright produced an astonishing exhibition of finishing to stun ‘The Green Machine’. Van Gerwen made a blistering start and stormed into a 3-0 lead, before going into the first interval with a 5-2 cushion and a 110 average.
Nevertheless, Wright’s clutch-finishing was nothing short of majestic, as he launched an improbable fightback to ensure that Van Gerwen’s Champions League drought would continue.
‘Snakebite’ took out three nerveless bullseye finishes and missed just three darts at double in the entire contest; reeling off five consecutive legs from 8-5 down to move to the brink of victory. Van Gerwen stayed alive at 10-9 but the Scot wasn’t to be denied; taking out a 92 kill on D16 to prevail in a classic with a 101.46 average.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Evening Session (6.30pm)
Gary Anderson 11-4 Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen 9-11 Peter Wright
Gary Anderson 11-4 Peter Wright