Ones to Watch - Champions of Champions
After a three-year absence the Worthington Champion of Champions returns with the 256 winners at selected venues all through the year, coming together at the Depot in Cardiff for the Grand Finals that will see the winner pick up £10,000 in prize money.
From World Champions to Winmau ADC Championship Tour Winners, the event will be played by some of the best in the grass roots circuit in a prestigious event that has seen the likes of Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton all claim victory.
1995 World Champion Richie Burnett will be amongst those in Cardiff on Saturday after he won in CWMPARC Legion to qualify, looking to roll back the years as he aims to win his first Champion of Champions crown.
The Prince of Wales earnt his place on PDC Pro Tour back in January having come through the field in Milton Keynes, so is well equipped to deal with the intensity of the Champion of Champions but is not the only tour card holder to be involved.
Martin Lukeman who appeared at the recent Betfred World Matchplay having impressed during the PDC Players Championship events will be there having won at the Wooburn WMC arena, whilst reigning CoC Champion and winner on the Pro Tour this year Jim Williams also qualifies having won at the Golden Lion.
Connor Scutt who also earnt his tour card back in January qualifies after claiming victory at Staines Conservative Club.
Reigning WDF World Champion Neil Duff who has recently played the Online Darts Live League, qualifies for Cardiff, and will hope for more success including a new set of SE 23g Red Dragon darts for Saturday. Duff Man beat Thibault Tricole in a last set decider back in April to claim his maiden world title, following up with a win at the Ballymore Inn located in County Kildare to make his way to Cardiff.
The Amateur Darts Circuit also provided an opportunity for a passage to the Champion of Champions event through the Winmau Championship Tours, with the new system being a huge success on its debut year.
Dan Read won Championship Tour 4 to qualify at the Thornbury Conference Centre having beat Michael Huntley 6-3 to win 256 ADC rankings points and £1000, as well as his spot in the 256-man field for Finals Day. Welshman Huntley can hold his head up high as he too will be in the Capital after winning at the Nags Head.
Championship Tours 5 and 6 were held at the Forum Hall last month that saw former World Master Adam Smith-Neale and Lee Budgen pick up their qualification spots, as well as ADC Number 2 Steve Brown who won at the Keynsham Cricket Club and Number 4 Tony Wood who hit the first nine darter in the ADC. The 54 year old won at the Rainton Arena to book his spot at Finals Day.
The competition is fierce and what an event we can look forward to with many who have won in the past going on to build their name in the game of darts. Red Dragon star and World Number 1 Gerwyn Price claimed victory in 2015 and has gone on to win three Grand Slams and a World Championship at the Alexandra Palace back in 2020.
Jonny Clayton the 2016 champion came top of this years Premier League that consisted of the world’s very best including Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright. The Ferret won the event last year in Milton Keynes having beat Jose de Sousa 11-5 in the Final claiming a quarter of a million-prize money.
The prestigious event returns for the first time in three years so expect quality and darting drama all throughout, where emotions will rise as many battle for the £10,000 prize in the Welsh Capital with current/ former Champions of the World and young rising talent all battling it out.
To find out who has qualified for the Champion of Champions click the link through the Red Dragon website to see who will make their way to the Depot on Saturday.
By Harry Masterson