The Season Begins!!!
As in football the summer break is over. Though there is no real summer break in darts any longer and since the World Matchplay we could follow three World Series tournaments and three European Tour events by the official PDC stream-which was not always pure joy- and by probably a lot of unofficial streams as well.
Those were entertaining tournaments not at least because the six events had five different winners. Michael van Gerwen - last year seemingly always winning - this time only won one of the World Series Events and one European Tour Event and several times surprised with for him unusual bad performances. He even felled compelled to announce "I have nothing to prove!" I dare to assume that he was neither happy nor content with himself.
But now the "big tournaments" come to the fore again and the first will be the Champions League of Darts which will be played this year in Brighton. Not really a very important tournament - the price money doesn't count for the ranking. And with only eight participants it is not one of the most significant events. But it is the only dart tournament in the United Kingdom which is televised by the BBC which means it is televised for free. The BDO World Championship - which was for years the darts tournament on BBC - is not televised any longer or might be at the moment is not televised. But that is another story. At least we know by now there will be in 2019 again a BDO World Championship and the BDO has with Desmond Jacklin a new chairman who wants to change a lot of things.
But back to the Champions League of Darts in which in this year reigning champion Mensur Suljovic, World Champion Rob Cross, the number 1 of the world Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, Simon Whitlock, Daryl Gurney and Dave Chisnall will take part. The tournament starts with two groups with four players each in round robin. The two first placed players of both groups than will play the tournament to the end in k.o. format. In Group A we find Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Daryl Gurney and Dave Chisnall. In Group B we have Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Mensur Suljovic and Simon Whitlock.
I believe Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson will progress from Group A. Though van Gerwen had some bad patches in the last weeks he will probably be well prepared for the event and - despite his statement - will try to prove him. And Gary Anderson - should he be motivated enough - will have no problem with Daryl Gurney and Dave Chisnall who both at the moment seem only to be able for the one or other outstanding match. Besides it could be Gurney is more interested to defend his World Grand Prix title next week and might be think of this tournament only as part of his preparation and a test run.
Predictions in Group B are much more difficult. None of the four players really convinced over the last few weeks. Wright plays from time to time outstanding and one thinks he's back but the next slump is following. It is very similar with Rob Cross. And reigning champion Suljovic didn't impress with great performances recently either but might be as with Gurney and the World Grand Prix for him to defend his title is a big motivation. He definitely could be a danger. Simon Whitlock to be sure is the dark horse of the group though he's slowly regaining his form. Cross- who comes from Hastings which is not too far from Brighton- will be the local favourite. Whitlock seems to live near Brighton as well which could be a point in his favour. I think Rob Cross will progress but it will be a close call who'll progress beside him.
Who will win the tournament I've really no idea. I think the winner will be either Michael van Gerwen or Gary Anderson or Rob Cross. Cross and Anderson are the only two players who in my opinion are capable to stop an inform van Gerwen. It is the third edition of the tournament and till now the Dutchman couldn't win it. That could be both a bad omen and a big motivation for him.