Tomorrow the next big PDC TV event will begin - the Champions League of Darts. Some call it the most superfluous tournament of the year - really I just could watch the same players in the World Grand Prix and some of them in the Players Championships on Monday and Tuesday. But - and that is a really big but - while we outside the UK can follow all the tournaments by the PDC live stream should they not be televised anyway in our country - fans in the UK can't follow the PDC stream of the big tournaments and should they not have subscribed to Sky Sports couldn't watch the World Grand Prix. But everybody in the UK can see BBC for free. So for many the Champions League of Darts might be the only tournament they can follow live on TV and those will be eager to see Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross and the other top eight players.
Whom they of course will not be able to see will be the World Grand Prix runner up Dave Chisnall , Ian White, Chris Dobey , Glen Durrant or the other players who impressed and surprised in the World Grand Prix. Those top eight taking part in the Champions League- with the exception of Michael van Gerwen - all went out unsung in the first or second round in Dublin. And with the exception of Peter Wright, who really played great in the recent two Players Championships and won one of them and Gerwyn Price who at least managed a quarterfinal and a semi-final in the events - none awakened the hope to perform outstanding in the Champions League. Consequentially one could assume van Gerwen, Wright and Price will be the three fighting for the title.
But you shouldn't write off Michael Smith and Daryl Gurney who both had half decent Players Championship results while Rob Cross, reigning champion Gary Anderson and James Wade had decided not to take part in the Pro Tour events at all. Might be they tried to put things right after their disappointing World Grand Prix appearances and might be they even managed it and will pleasantly surprise us. Wade had all in all a good year 2019 till now while Cross' season was full of ups and downs. Gary Anderson didn't play much - might be he'll managed it to motivate himself for the rest of the season and all the upcoming events but to be sure it gets harder and harder.
I am sure van Gerwen will be highly motivated to win the event which he couldn't win before and to be sure he will be full of confidence. So he is the most likely winner of the event. On the other side he was this year more vulnerable than in the last years and might be too confident which often ends with him in some sloppy darts. Peter Wright might be highly motivated as well and perhaps his record average of 123.5 and two really high class Players Championships strengthened his confidence enough to really offer opposition to the Dutchman. The tournament is played first in a group stage and van Gerwen and Wright are in different groups. The top two of each group will reach the k.o. phase. The scenario could be Wright and van Gerwen will win their groups and will meet in the final.
It is rather more difficult to predict who could be second in the groups. In Group A you can chose between Anderson, Smith and Wade, in Group B between Cross, Gurney and Price - at the moment all are rather evenly matched. The bookmakers see Anderson and Cross with the best chances to progress into the k.o phase beside van Gerwen and Wright but who knows?
In some way the fact that most of the players are shaky candidates at the moment makes up the suspense and generates a lot of interest. So this might be "most superfluous event" of the darts year could in the end shed some light where the players can position themselves in regard of the upcoming tournaments - especially in regard of the most important - the World Championship.