By James Lloyd
The inaugural Champions League of Darts got underway in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon as 16 time World Champion Phil Taylor shocked world number one Michael van Gerwen.
The eight-man tournament, boasting an impressive prize fund of £250,000, sees the world’s best battle it out over two days at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena in front of the BBC cameras.
And it was Taylor who impressed on the opening day as he breezed past Peter Wright 10-5 before stunning van Gerwen 10-4 in a blistering display of darts that featured a mammoth 167 checkout.
The Stoke based player was quick to praise the raucous Welsh crowd after his impressive displays. “I’ve loved it, win, lose or draw I’ve loved it anyway”, Taylor said.
“The crowd is fantastic here, you can’t get better than Cardiff, honestly. We play over different areas of the world but this is special.”
Like Taylor, current World Champion, Gary Anderson, made it two wins from two after he beat Michael Smith 10-5 and James Wade 10-7.
But the Scotsman was made to work as he squandered a number of chances to seal the match over Wade.
“I could have had that wrapped up very easily”, said the two time World Champion.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had a throw so it was kind of panic stations and then at the end there I relaxed and thought ‘I’m a couple of legs in front, I’ve got time to win it’ and I did.”
Anderson believes the Cardiff audience will be treated to a 9 dart finish over the weekend. “We play how we can play, we’re not quite kicking yet. I do think you will see the 9 darter or maybe two this weekend.”
Adrian Lewis’s fate lies in the balance as he was tamed by a charging James Wade. Lewis lost 10-3 to the left-hander and had to dig deep to edge Michael Smith 10-7.
“It was always going to be a tough match against Smith, he’s a quality player”, he added: “I didn’t show any confidence and that’s what crucified me in the end. I haven’t picked up a dart in three weeks!”
Today will see the final round of group matches featuring the van Gerwen – Wright showdown. Lewis has to beat Anderson to progress, whilst Smith entertains Wade. Robert Thornton, who has lost both of his matches, plays Taylor.
The tournament will conclude this evening and will see the two semi-finals and the final, live on BBC Two from 6pm.