Sixteen times World Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor recaptured the magic of the height of his illustrious career to land the spoils last weekend in the inaugural PDC Champions League of Darts. Taking place at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena and being the first PDC tournament to be broadcast on the BBC, Taylor saw off current world number one Michael van Gerwen 11-5 in what turned out to be a largely one-sided final, arguably between the two most talented players in world darts. It sets Taylor up well for a run at the upcoming series of autumn majors. This starts with the World Grand Prix, commencing in Dublin this weekend, and finishing with the famous PDC World Champions at the Alexandra Palace in London this Christmas. Here, Gary Anderson is the back-to-back defending champion. Van Gerwen was disappointing in the final with a lacklustre display and lacking his usual power scoring ability. However, coming off the back of two wins in high quality European Tour events, including a final victory over world number five Peter Wright and a 6-0, 107 average semi-final demolition of Kim Huybrechts, he will surely be quietly confident.
Less thrilled at their performances last weekend will be former World Youth Champion Michael Smith, the world number seven who knocked The Power out of the 2014 Worlds. However, he suffered two 10-5 defeats at the hands of Anderson and James Wade as well as a third loss against Adrian Lewis before being sent packing from Cardiff. Robert Thornton was the only other player to lose all three of his group ties over the weekend. With a tricky first round tie against Stephen Bunting to contend with in the Grand Prix, he’ll have to pull out all the stops if he’s to return to the sort of form which sees him go into the competition as defending champion.
If Smith and Thornton will be disappointed with how last weekend went, then one certain victor is the BBC. Faced with the difficult task of getting the tone right with broadcasting their first BBC competition, having previously been loyal to rival governing body the BDO (the two split acrimoniously in the 1990s), Jason Mohammad and his team will be proud of their efforts. With experienced players Paul Nicholson and Mark Webster on board, the coverage went down well across the sport. It would be no surprise to see further PDC tournaments on terrestrial television before long, especially now the BDO World Championships will be exclusive to Eurosport. Chairman Barry Hearn called this a ‘new era’ for the sport, and with the success of the Champions League, as well as the growth of darts as a force across Europe and the world, he might not be far wrong.
Photo Credit: BBC Sport