- World No.1 Michael van Gerwen has taken the game to such heights that he has even been described as ‘the greatest’ by 16-time world champion Phil Taylor. He won the last big PDC event, the World Matchplay, in July, and has continued to dominate the regular circuit with more European Tour and Players Championship titles over the last couple of months.
- The Premier League - the tournament which most closely resembles the new Champions League in terms of structure - was also won by Van Gerwen in May. ‘Mighty Mike’ thumped Taylor 11-3 in the final on that occasion.
- World No.4 Taylor has had a decent few months, following up his second-placed finishes in the Premier League and World Matchplay with victory at the Perth Masters. He looks to be in better form than both No.2 seed Gary Anderson, who has won the last two world championships, and world no.3 Adrian Lewis, who has been below his best for a few months.
The group matches will be played over the best of 19 legs, and the semi-finals and final will be a race to 11 legs, so the format really plays into the hands of Van Gerwen, who is probably more vulnerable when the matches are played out over sets. Despite being in perhaps the trickier group, alongside the legendary Taylor and dangerous Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright, he should cruise through to the last four and will probably lift the trophy if he plays anything close to his best, having made a three-dart average of around 110 look like a walk in the park at times this year.
Van Gerwen’s odds-on price to win the tournament may deter a lot of punters, though, so it may be shrewder to look at other markets. Anderson has been solid rather than spectacular since winning his second world title at the start of the year, but the big occasion tends to bring out the best in the ‘Flying Scotsman’. He is one of the players who can score as heavily as Van Gerwen and looks good value at around 11/10 to top Group B, where he will compete against the out-of-form Lewis and outsiders James Wade and Michael Smith.
If Anderson can win his group, it is likely he would avoid Van Gerwen in the last four, giving him a great chance of reaching the final. It promises to be a captivating weekend in Wales and there will be in-play markets to keep track of individual matches and the number of 180s, as fans wait to see who will become the first Champions League winner.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: Gary Anderson to win Group B - 11/10
*Please note, odds may fluctuate