Champions League of Darts
The Champions League is one of the newer events on the PDC calendar and certainly one of the more interesting. It features the elite performers in the game in a short format that delivers plenty of entertainment over two days and while this is officially a non-ranking event, it’s one that is highly anticipated by players and fans alike.
The first Champions League of Darts came along in 2016 as the PDC looked to add to what was already a busy calendar. The format takes the top eight players from the division and initially splits them into two groups of four. Those players then compete on a round robin basis and at the end of that group phase, the top two players from each group proceed to the semi finals where the tournament concludes as a straight knockout.
In 2016, when the competition was first held at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Phil Taylor took the title with a comprehensive, 11-5 victory over Michael Van Gerwen in the final. A year later, we had something of a shock result when Austrian Mensur Suljovic overcame the favourite Gary Anderson by 11-9 in the 2017 final.
In 2018, the competition moves to the Brighton Centre with sponsors Unibet getting behind two days of top action in September so the Champions League of Darts is now firmly established as a popular and prestige event.
Unlike the majority of tournaments, we have to wait a little longer for the outright winner market to appear because the line up for the Champions League is only confirmed two months in advance. The reigning champion is guaranteed a place in the competition so for 2018, we already knew that Mensur Suljovic would be competing, but the remaining seven places are determined after the World Matchplay which takes place in July.
Following that event, the schedule for the Champions League is confirmed and we can expect the bookmakers to open a busy set of markets for the outright tournament winner.
Other Tournament Bets
Once the ante post markets are open, we can expect to see all of the usual long term bets that are associated with any darts event. Nine Dart Finish, Maximum 170 Checkout and others will be listed by those bookies that usually deliver that kind of option.
‘To Reach the Final’ and ‘Name the Finalists’ markets may also open although a smaller set of bookmakers may get involved with these. With long term darts betting, it’s mainly about the winner with the Nine Dart Finish likely to be the most popular of the side bets.
Every thrower plays three games in the Group Phase so, with eight competitors taking part, there are lots of opportunities for match betting right from the first throw, all the way up to the final. During those groups, the winner is the first to ten legs while the knockout stage extends to the first to eleven so the Correct Score markets are busy, if tough to predict.
Beyond the result betting and the most popular side bets, we can expect to see a wide list of alternative markets. Many of these will be based around the maximum three-dart throw and will include Most 180s’, Total 180s and first to 180. Markets on which player will hit the highest checkout will also appear and then we get to some more obscure bets such as the colour of the first winning double.
As with all PDC events, we are also likely to see a number of daily price boosts from around the sportsbooks as the tournament progresses. These could be on individual players to win their games or they could combine doubles and trebles for higher enhanced odds. Current sponsors Unibet may well be at the forefront of those price boosts but any bookmaker who regularly gets involved in these offers - Coral, Winner Sports, William Hill, SportNation etc - will be likely candidates for some daily value.
Darts is growing in popularity with the betting community and the Champions League carries an extensive list of match options for every game.
The Champions League of Darts is like a shortened version of the Premier League in the sense that it brings together the best eight players in the game but rather than extend competition over a number of weeks, it’s all over in two days of exciting, intense action.
It’s a non-ranking event but that doesn’t lower the interest and the fact that only the best throwers are here means that every game is highly competitive. We’ve also seen some surprises in the first two years of the tournament and that could leave some value in the betting markets that start to open for the Champions League every July.
In short, this is a very welcome addition to the PDC calendar and one where the bookmakers will be working hard to bring value across the September weekend that hosts this prestigious event.