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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Defending champ Mensur Suljovic can top group rivals

Van Gerwen odds-on to add to title haul

Mensur Suljovic won as 40-1 rag last year
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BBC1 1.15pm Saturday & BBC2 6.30pm Saturday

There aren’t many gaps on Michael van Gerwen's honours board but the Paddy Power Champions League of Darts is one notable omission, and it's something the world’s finest arrowsmith plans to put right in Brighton this weekend.

There have been two runnings of this newish addition to the PDC calendar, the first was won by Phil Taylor, while Mensur Suljovic defied outsider status 12 months ago to dot up at 40-1.

Van Gerwen was suitably embarrassed by his performance last year, when he was beaten in the group stage.

That, plus a handful of big-tournament flops over the last year and a dismal 6-1 battering by Willie O’Connor earlier this month, means he goes to post at a shade of odds-on for this event featuring the top eight in the world.

It’s short but not as short as he usually is for such a small-field contest and you can be sure his army of backers will be all over him.

He may well go in and, if so, good for him. Despite notable flops in the Coral UK Open and World Matchplay he has still won 17 titles in 2018 and tends to come good in the autumn when the big prizes are up for grabs culminating in the William Hill World Championship.

But there are other bets to be had. He and Gary Anderson should qualify from a group featuring Dave Chisnall and Daryl Gurney – it’s round-robin in the group stage with all games the best of 19 legs.

Group B looks wide open. Rob Cross, in no great form, makes a weak favourite in a section featuring Peter Wright, Simon Whitlock and Suljovic. The Austrian has a good record against all of his rivals and now believes he belongs in the elite. Take him to win the section.

The big hitters can flex their muscles over this distance, which is why Gurney is value at 17-10 to hit more 180s than Anderson in their Group A opener. Gurney banged in 67 maximums in the Premier League, ten more than Anderson. 

M Suljovic to win Group B
1pt 11-4 general
D Gurney most 180s v G Anderson
1pt 17-10 BoyleSports

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Van Gerwen was suitably embarrassed by his performance last year, when he was beaten in the group stage
E.W. Terms
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