2023 Worthington's Champion of Champions Preview
2023 will see the 7th staging of the Red Dragon Champion of Champions, with Finals Day set to take place on the 26th of August from the Depot in Cardiff. Alec Small claimed the competition 12 months ago in the Welsh capital, beating Scott Bayliss 2-0 in last yearâ€™s Final to become the 6th different winner.
This year sees the return of the best of 3 leg format competition, with Red Dragon also introducing a brand-new pairs event that will see 8 different pairs battle it out for a £2,000 grand prize. We will also stage a Plate competition where the winner will receive £1,000 and the Runner Up will take home £500.
Defending champion Alec Small will defend his title this year at the Depot after securing qualification for the competition at selected venue the Connie Club, in one of the many selected venues chose for this year.
Winmau Team 360-star Riley-Rees Tucker will hope for a tournament to remember in the Welsh capital, after securing his qualification for the Champion of Champions through winning at the Halfway Inn. The youngster has already claimed 2 Foundation Tour titles on the JDC Circuit as he sits 4th on the current Order of Merit.
The Welsh international will certainly be tested in his home country but will benefit from the experience he will gain from playing more experienced players this Saturday in what will be his first campaign.
Barry Bates on the other hand has been around the sport for a while now, having played in a UK Open Final back in 2006, as well as reaching the Quarter Finals in the PDC World Championship and the World Grand Prix.
The 53-year-old who was born in Merthyr Tyfdil will relish the challenge of the Champion of Champions having played on a few occasions at the MODUS Super Series, so is no stranger to playing in a competitive environment.
Keelan Kay has played himself into form through the Amateur Darts Circuit, with the Lord of the Board securing his qualification for the 2023 Champion of Champions through the Bluebird.
The Team 360 star has played in the ADC Vault Series to warm up for the competition, claiming a tournament at Ottery St Mary FC before reaching the Quarter Finals a week later. Johnny Haines currently leads proceedings in the Southwest Vault Series region with 108pts and he too will appear at this yearâ€™s Champion of Champions after winning at the Abbey Meads.
Chas Barstow who has played at the PDC World Championship, secured his place at the Depot earlier in the year after winning at the Eastleigh Working Menâ€™s Club. The 44-year-old will hope for a strong run this weekend in Cardiff, and will have had plenty of time to prepare having being one of the early qualifiers for the competition.
The ADC has also provided qualifying spots for the upcoming Champion of Champions like last year, with winners of the Winmau Open Series held through out the year securing places, as well as the winners on the LP Metal Detecting Womenâ€™s Championship Tour.
The likes of Chris Wickenden, Adam Mould, Matt Clark, Scott Taylor, Lisa Ashton, and Deta Hedman have all secured places at the Depot through their performances on the Amateur Darts Circuit stage.
The competition starts on Saturday from the Depot in Cardiff for the 7th staging of the best of 3 leg format competition, as Alec Small and 255 others look to win the £10,000 grand prize. Will there be a 7th different winner, or will we have our first multiple Champion of Champions winner in 2023?
By Harry Masterson