Phil Taylor Wins Inaugural Champions League Ahead Of Dublin Grand Prix

A busy week’s worth of top darts action gets underway in Dublin this Sunday as the World Grand Prix begins. All of the big names are in the hat and the first round draw was made this week, allowing us to take a look at the order of play before we call a winner.

Phil Taylor

Phil Taylor Wins Champions League

First, a quick note on last week’s first ever Champions League of Darts. In a sensational final, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor blew Michael Van Gerwen off the oche as the sixteen-time world champion recalled the form of his younger years.

Mighty Mike has been the best in the world for some time now, taking down tourney after tourney. However, perhaps because it was the inaugural event, Taylor was inspired to relive the glory days and (as we suggested) was too good to turn down at 5/1.

The event, live on the BBC, took place over two days at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena with Taylor and MVG meeting twice along the way. Taylor emerged victorious on both occasions, first winning 10-4 in the group-stage, then 11-5 in the final on Sunday.

In truth, Taylor, 56, had looked near-invincible all weekend; feeding off the crowd, winning all five matches and dropping only 19 legs throughout the whole event.

Taylor and MVG were seeded in the same group and as such avoided each other until Sunday’s trophy match. Instead they faced and defeated James Wade and Gary Anderson respectively i to set up the final everybody was hoping for.

Taylor set the pace, taking an early 4-1 lead, before MVG began the short-lived fight back, pulling it back to 6-3. The Power, though, responded magnificently using an 11-darter to move 7-3 up.

The break in play after ten legs did little to slow Taylor down or recharge his rival as the match sailed away in the Englishman’s favour. The Power quickly finished a 114 on double 17, sealing the title and the £100,000 winner’s cheque as well as being crowned the first ever winner of the event.

World Grand Prix: order of play in Dublin

The running order for this year’s Grand Prix was announced this week, giving us an idea as to what we can expect when the usual suspects return to the Citywest Hotel in Dublin on Sunday.

Darts Grand Prix
With Michael Van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright not making their entrance until Monday, James Wade, twice a winner in the Fair City, is the first of the seeds to step up.

Defending champion Robert Thornton will be in action on the opening night as will Raymond van Barneveld and current world champion Gary Anderson. The event, live on Sky Sports 3 at 7pm, will begin with Australian Kyle Anderson looking to out throw Spaniard Cristo Reyes, which will be followed by Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts taking on Ian White.

Later in the evening, Scotland’s Thornton faces former BDO world champion Stephen Bunting before Anderson’s game with Jamie Caven prior to Barney’s match.

As for the betting, third seed Adrian Lewis is a surprisingly generous 18/1 which, with each way bets paying half of the odds for a top two finish, represents good value with Jackpot more than capable of making the final. Betway are laying 9/2 on Taylor to continue his return to form in the outright betting, while the best you can take on MVG at 5/4 at SkyBet. Personally, I’m looking at Anderson who is due a win and, at 11/2 with Betway, is a worthwhile punt.

Full order of play

Sunday October 2 – 1st round

  • Kyle Anderson v Cristo Reyes
  • Ian White v Kim Huybrechts
  • James Wade (6) v Terry Jenkins
  • Gerwyn Price v Benito van de Pas
  • Adrian Lewis (3) v Jelle Klaasen
  • Robert Thornton (7) v Stephen Bunting
  • Gary Anderson (2) v Jamie Caven
  • Mervyn King v Raymond van Barneveld

Monday October 3 – 1st round

  • Dave Chisnall v Robbie Green
  • Mick McGowan v James Wilson
  • Mensur Suljovic v Daryl Gurney
  • Michael Smith (8) v Alan Norris
  • Joe Cullen v Simon Whitlock
  • Phil Taylor (4) v Steve West
  • Michael van Gerwen (1) v Steve Beaton
  • Peter Wright (5) v Brendan Dolan

Tuesday October 4 – 2nd round

  • James Wade (6)/Terry Jenkins v Gerwyn Price/Benito van de Pas
  • Robert Thornton (7)/Stephen Bunting v Ian White/Kim Huybrechts
  • Gary Anderson (2)/Jamie Caven v Kyle Anderson/Cristo Reyes
  • Adrian Lewis (3)/Jelle Klaasen v Mervyn King/Raymond van Barneveld

Wednesday October 5 – 2nd round

  • Michael Smith (8)/Alan Norris v Joe Cullen/Simon Whitlock
  • Peter Wright (5) v Brendan Dolan v Dave Chisnall/Robbie Green
  • Phil Taylor (4)/Steve West v Mensur Suljovic/Daryl Gurney
  • Michael van Gerwen (1)/Steve Beaton v Mick McGowan v James Wilson

Thursday October 6

  • Quarter-Finals x 4 (TBA)

Friday October 7

  • Semi-Finals x 2 (TBA)

Saturday October 8

  • Final
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Betting Tips For First Champions League Of Darts

A little piece of darting history will be made this weekend when the players return to action for the first ever Champions League of Darts.

Champions League of Darts
Taking place this coming Saturday and Sunday at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, the event will also mark a thawing of the frost that has developed between the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the BBC.

Since the PDC formed and split from the British Darts Organisation (BDO) in 1992, their events (by far the more prestigious of the two), have not been broadcast on the United Kingdom’s national channel who have continued to cover BDO tournaments. In broadcasting the new event, the BBC will cease to cover January’s BDO World Championship, which will now be watchable on Channel 4.

And what can the Beeb expect for its money?

They can expect eight of the world’s best players selected according to the PDC Order of Merit following July’s World Matchplay. Playing a round robin format and competing in two groups, A and B, the top two places from the tables’ final standings progress to the knock-out phase, the semi-finals, which will be played on the following Sunday.

All of the group matches will be played out over the best of 19 legs with the semi-finals and final being the best of 21. Both days will have an afternoon and evening session, with Sunday’s session hosting the semi-finals and final.

The Groups

Group A

Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor, Peter Wright, Robert Thornton

As the inaugural event, both Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and Michael ‘Mighty Mike’ van Gerwen will be aiming to be the first ever winner.

Good news then, that they have landed each other in Group A. Should both progress from the group, they cannot meet in the semis, thus there is a decent chance that the pair could meet in what would surely be an epic first final. That said, with Peter Wright and Robert Thornton making up the numbers, it will be tough.

Taylor is a best price 5/2 at Sky Bet to top the group while our partners all agree on MVG at 4/7 and Snakebite at 7/1 with Thornton way out at 25/1.

Group B

Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, James Wade, Michael Smith

World champion Gary ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Anderson will be the man to beat in Group B, something Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis is capable of. Lewis has two world championships himself but with James Wade and Michael Smith looking to claim their slice of history, this could well be the closer of the two groups.

Understandably, Gary Anderson is the favourite to win the group and both Sky Bet and Betway are in agreement that 6/5 is reasonable value for him to do just that.

If, like me, you can see Jackpot toping the pile, then jump on the 9/4 offered by all of our partners. James Wade can be backed for the group at a best price of 9/2, available at Bet365, while Smith can be found at 13/2 in the same book.

So, if we go with odds and form, then we could end up with a last four of MVG/Taylor vs Anderson/Lewis, which would open up the Taylor vs MVG final face-off that we are all looking forward to.

Obviously, Van Gerwen is the clear outright favourite at 8/11 across the board, but that’s too easy so I’ll lose my money on Taylor instead, available at a more than reasonable 5/1.

The Champions League of Darts airs across BBC One and BBC Two, Saturday 24 September (first match at 1.15 pm) and Sunday 25 September.

Champions League of Darts tournament schedule

Saturday September 24

Group Phase One, Afternoon Session (1.15 pm-5 pm)

  • Gary Anderson v Michael Smith (B)
  • Adrian Lewis v James Wade (B)
  • Phil Taylor v Peter Wright (A)
  • Michael van Gerwen v Robert Thornton (A)

Second Group Matches, Evening Session (6.30 pm-10 pm)

The winners of earlier matches play one another, while the losers of earlier matches play one another.

Sunday September 25

Afternoon Session (1 pm-5 pm)

Final group matches

Evening Session (6.30 pm)

Semi-finals and final

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The Greatest Walk-On Themes Of Modern Darts

You could be forgiven for thinking that darts players put as much effort and practice into their pre-match walks-ons as they do for the matches themselves.

This is understandable given how entrances have become an integral part of the game; they help to create the atmosphere that draws thousands of fans from every part of the world to the biggest tournaments.

Often based around a player’s nickname, a good walk-on should further establish their character, while getting the crowd buzzing and psyching out opponents. To that end, it’s critical to choose the right music to set the perfect tone.

Perhaps the most important thing about a walk-on is that it should be fun; a bit like riding a Segway to the tune of Shakira’s Waka Waka, as trademarked by South Africa’s Devon Petersen.

On that note, here are our top five darts walk-ons of all time.

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5. Wayne Mardle

Hawaii 5.0.1, otherwise known as Wayne Mardle, likes to add a touch of the exotic to proceedings when he prepares to step up to the oche.

Top Darts Walk-Ons
Regularly draped in a floral Hawaiian shirt and Lei, Mardle enters the arena shaking his hips away to the theme tune from the 1980s US TV show Hawaii 5.0 which never fails to get the crowd jumping.

Mardle himself rates Phil Taylor’s theme as his personal favourite, but when it comes to his own game favours the loud and lairy look of the exotic despite himself hailing from the far less tropical town of Dagenham.

4. Peter Wright

Pitbull’s Don’t Stop the Party is the marching tune of choice for Scottish nutter-chucker Peter “Snakebite” Wright when he strides into a heads-up.

Top Darts Walk-Ons
While the world number five has consistently chopped and changed his look, hair, shirts and even his darts over the years, one thing he never messes with is his trademark walk-on music. Wright whips the crowd into a frenzy better than anyone with his bouncing, arm-shaking, fist-pumping routine which all comes wrapped up in a blur of ultra-bright colours.

A standout entrance for Snakebite occurred last year at the 2015 European Darts Open in Dusseldorf when Devon Petersen, of Segway fame (who recently impersonated Raymond van Barneveld’s walk-on), joined in with Wright’s boogie, leaving the pair jigging and twerking at each other – making the whole thing seem like some kind of a weird and slightly wobbly mating ritual.

3. Ted Hankey

“Oche Rager” Ted Hankey was known in his time simply as The Count and always enjoyed living up to his billing by entering the room in his favourite Dracula costume.

Top Darts Walk-Ons
Sadly, Hankey, who began chucking his arrows for the BDO in 2014 following a two-year stroke-induced hiatus, was forced to bin the cloak amid concerns it might spark a bust-up with the BDO’s different legion of fans who are much closer to the oche. The song Be on Your Way by DJ Zany remains unchanged.

2. Peter Manley

Old One Dart himself, long since retired, used to make his way into battle to the tunes of Tony Christie’s Amarillo.

Top Darts Walk-Ons
Appropriately enough, the 2003 PDC Las Vegas Desert Classic winner always cut more of a Peter Kay vibe which more than likely helped him gain a popularity with the crowd that outstretched his match performances at the time.

The song played as Manley would triumphantly bowl into the hall, backed by a chorus of pantomime boos which played into his ferocious on-stage persona that got everyone involved.

1. Phil Taylor

Having been selected for him by a Sky Sports floor manager, Phil “The Power” Taylor’s walk-on song is the stuff of darts legend.

Top Darts Walk-Ons
According to history, a CD of I’ve Got the Power, a 1990 single from German band Snap, was stepped on and broken by said floor manager, Martin Turner, who then christened Taylor with his now famous moniker.

Despite being a firm crowd favourite and one of the most distinctive walk-on songs in all of darts – made even more fun with a pair of comedy glasses and a cowboy hat – sixteen-time world champion Taylor has admitted to asking Robbie Williams to write a replacement walk-out tune for him.

Taylor says he has grown tired of his current one which, given all the finals The Power has reached over the past twenty years, is understandable. Turner, by the way, introduced the walk-on which helped make today’s game what it is as well playing an all-important role in ascension of the greatest modern-day player of them all.

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