Champions League of Darts


Brighton Centre, Saturday, September 22 – Sunday, September 23

A SEA of green curly wigs and the sight of people wearing lucky pants are the main visuals I will take away from the exciting weekend that was the Champions League of Darts.

Apart from that, and a man dressed as Jesus and one wearing a vanishingly short pink dress, there were some exceptional darts played over the course of the two nights.

World Champion and Hastings hero Rob Cross, who came out to the sounds of Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot, started the third leg with his first 180 of the night.

There were huge roars from the crowd whenever Cross hit a big score, as the audience showed their support for the Sussex player.

His opponent Simon Whitlock couldn’t defeat him, despite a closely fought match and Cross fluffing the perfect opportunity to break throw during the fifth leg.

Cross kept his cool and managed to gain the victory.

Peter “Snakebite” Wright wasn’t his usual self against reigning champion Mensur Suljovic, who steadied himself to secure some vital doubles when it mattered.

The busy Dave Chisnall was unable to deliver this time around, and could not overpower the Flying Scotsman, Gary Anderson, who showed his class and seized his opportunities.

Michael Van Gerwen (Mighty Mike) put on another explosive display of pure class, and even when Daryll Gurney looked to fight back, MVG put the final nails in the coffin.

Despite the shouts of ‘boring boring tables’ from the balcony at the beginning, the audience was on form and behind every player.

That brought the first day of this enthralling contest to a close, but there was still much more to come.

Despite being tamer than Saturday night –it was Sunday after all, and there was a lack of the hometown hero Rob Cross due to his early exit from the tournament – the atmosphere was still electric, with a good vibe on the tables and up in the balcony as well.

The audience were really getting behind the players especially when they get close to the all-important but ever-elusive nine darter, Paddy Power promised to share £50,000 among the crowd if a player gets one.

Anderson is the player that went closest to this target, hitting seven perfect darts before his eighth failed him.

Reigning champion Suljovic failed to really get out of the blocks throughout the evening. He was slow out of the blocks, allowing Anderson to run away with it and beat him 10-4.

In his own words in his post-match interview, Suljovic is playing “s****”

Match of the tournament undoubtedly went to the semi-final clash between Van Gerwen and Peter Wright.

It looked like Might Mike was going to run away with victory, having had an 8-5 lead, but Wright was not to be outdone and fought back incredibly, and with a number of bullseye finishes, to take the match 11-9.

It sends the crowd into absolute hysterics and if that wasn’t enough Wright’s signature dance moves rile even more of a frenzy on the tables.

In the final, Anderson came out all guns blazing.

He was 3-nil up very quickly, and although Wright manages to claw a few back it isn’t enough to repeat the heroics he had showcased in the semi-finals.

In the latter legs, both played poorly.

The standard has fallen considerably and the pace drops off to make for a rather undramatic and anticlimactic finish.

It seems as though Wright has used up his energy by the end, and Anderson is clinical on the doubles and goes on to secure the win.

No matter who came out on top the crowd was always going to leave with a smile.

Shown across the world on the BBC, a worldwide audience had their eyes on Brighton for some of the most entertaining action that sport can host.

A packed out crowd bodes well for next year, when hopefully the Centre will host the tournament once again.

Two nights, eight players, and some amazing sporting action, what more could you want?

Hayley Pearce