Anderson and Van Gerwen renew their rivalry (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
The 2019 Champions League of Darts reaches a gripping conclusion in Leicester on Sunday, with the final set of group fixtures followed by the knock-out phase as the big guns aim to secure the lucrative first prize.
Day One at the Morningside Arena saw two players secure their passage to the Semi-Finals with a game to spare, while two players crashed out of the competition following successive defeats.
A new name is guaranteed on the trophy, which this year has been replaced by a unique wrestling-style belt commissioned by title sponsors Paddy Power
, and six heavyweights now remain in the running.
Reigning champion Gary Anderson will be playing for pride on Sunday as he looks to avoid finishing bottom of Group A, but faces a formidable task against his nemesis Michael van Gerwen.
Despite averaging 97.7 and 99.5, the Flying Scotsman was beaten 10-7 by Michael Smith and 10-9 by James Wade, ensuring his barren run of results in televised competition this season continues.
Van Gerwen, meanwhile, is aiming to secure this silverware for the first time, having come closest in 2016 when he was beaten in the final by Phil Taylor.
The world number one is bidding for back-to-back televised titles in the space of seven days, following on from his World Grand Prix success, and started in style on Saturday with 10-8 and 10-6 wins over Wade and Smith respectively and ton-plus averages in each.
Elsewhere in Group A, the equation is simple for both Smith and Wade – win and a place in the Semi-Finals is secured.
The pair both picked up two points from a possible four on Saturday and now face off for the right to join MVG in the Last Four, with Wade looking to progress for the first time since 2016 and Smith eyeing a first appearance in the knock-out phase.
Wade has dominated the overall head-to-heads, winning 16 and drawing one of their 20 previous meetings, going ten matches unbeaten.
Group B features a straight shoot-out between Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price for the right to join Peter Wright in the Semi-Finals.
Gurney endured a ‘close shave’ in more ways than one on Saturday recovering from a sluggish defeat to ‘Snakebite’ in the afternoon session by overcoming Rob Cross 10-6 in the evening before completing his charity headshave in aid of Cystic Fibrosis Care.
Sporting a fresh new look, the Northern Ireland number one now aims to break new ground in Leicester by claiming a first televised win over the Welshman.
Price was a comfortable 10-5 winner over Cross in his opener, before losing 10-8 to Wright despite a 100.3 average in a high quality contest.
Wright is already assured of a place in the Last Four for the second year running, but will look to rubber-stamp top spot and avoid a potential clash with MVG by defeating the eliminated Cross.
Cross has now won just one of his five matches in this competition, having finished third in the group on debut last year, and will be determined to bow out on a high ahead of next week’s European Championship.
The winner of each group will face the runner-up of the other group in the evening’s Semi-Finals.
The action gets underway from 1.15pm BST, with group matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs and Semi-Finals and Final best of 21.
Champions League of Darts 2019 Match Schedule
Sunday October 20
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Rob Cross v Peter Wright (Group B)
Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price (Group B)
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson (Group A)
Michael Smith v James Wade (Group A)
Evening Session (6.30pm-10pm)
Winner Group B v Runner-Up Group A
Winner Group A v Runner-Up Group B