The Championship League Darts tournament is an interesting one and is another variation on a theme that Barry Hearn and the PDC have come up with to keep the sport entertaining, which is no bad thing.

On the face of it the format is a clever one, for those who don’t know, the top eight players in the rankings play each other in a group format, the top four going into semi-finals and producing a winner who goes on to compete in the big money winner’s group.  The bottom two from the group are eliminated and the remaining five go into the next group to be joined by the next three highest ranked players and this repeats for eight groups.  Slightly complicated but an innovative way of producing a winner’s group of eight men, after eight qualifying groups.

However, there is an issue with how the tournament is run and that is the benefit that comes from not progressing at the first time of asking.  The prize money is dished out per leg, £50 per leg in the initial group stages, and £100 per leg in the semi-final and final in each group.  Therefore, if you don’t qualify but also avoid relegation in early groups, your earning capacity is multiplied greatly every additional group you compete in.

The best example of this in this year’s competition was Simon Whitlock who reached the semis or final of each of the first five groups without winning any of them, he finally progressed from group six which meant he had earned £15,950 from his performances in the group stages.

Compare this to Gary Anderson who won group one, winning eight out of his nine matches, only picking up £3,100 for his one day’s work.

In fact, when all the totals are added up, the Flying Scotsman, who won the toughest of all the groups to reach the winner’s group, was only the 10th highest earner from the tournament, even falling behind three men who didn’t reach the winner’s group in Vincent van der Voort, Kevin Painter and Andy Smith.

I’m not suggesting anyone was losing on purpose at all, but whenever there is any kind of advantage for not winning, not only financial but in terms of match practice, then there are certainly questions that should be raised over the tournament format.

Having said all that, the Championship League Darts was an enjoyable event.  Away from the TV cameras and the huge crowds there were some great performances and a couple of 9-darters to boot.

Seeing Dennis Priestley back competing with and beating the best was a real treat as well and that kind of performance will give the oldest man on the circuit some serious confidence as we head towards the Worlds Championships.

Follow me on twitter: @philhaigh_

2011 Championship League Darts Total Prize Money

Taylor – SF Group 1, Winner Group 2, Winner – Total £22400

Whitlock – SF Group 1, Final Group 2, Final Group 3, SF Group 4, Final Group 5, Winner Group 6, Winners Group – Total £18750

King – SF Group 2, Group 3, Final Group 4, Winner Group 5,  SF Winners Group – Total £15650

Nicholson – SF Group 2, Winner Group 3, Final Winners Group – Total £14500

Beaton – SF Group 6, Winner Group 7, SF Winners Group – Total £10450

Van Der Voort – Group 4, Group 5, Final Group 6, SF Group 7 SF Group 8 – Total £10,100

Painter – SF Group 5, Group 6, Final Group 7, Final Group 8 –Total £9150

Walsh – SF Group 3, Winner Group 4, Winners Group – Total £7850

Smith – SF Group 5, SF Group 6, Rel. Group 7 – Total £6250

Anderson – Won Group 1, Winners Group  – Total £5900

Priestley – Winner Group 8, Winners Group – Total £5600

Lloyd – SF Group 3, SF Group 4, Rel Group 5 – Total £5500

Newton – Final Group 1, Group 2, Rel Group 3 – Total £5000

Part – SF Group 7, SF Group 8 – Total £4900

Tabern – Group 6, Group 7, Group 8 – Total £4850

Dudbridge – Group 7, Group 8 – Total £3200

Jones – Group 3, Rel Group 4 – Total £3100

Osbourne – Group 5, Rel Group 6 – Total £2850

Webster – Group 1, Rel Group 2 –Total £2550

Caven – Group 4, Rel Group 5 – Total £2500

Wade – Group 1, Rel Group 2 – Total £2350

Hamilton – Group 2, Rel Group 3 – Total £2250

Baxter – Rel. Group 4 – Total £1500

Brown – Rel Group 8 – Total £1400

Lewis – Rel. Group 1 – Total £1250

Thornton – Rel Group 7 – Total £1250

Ovens – Rel Group 6 – Total £1100

Jenkins – Rel. Group 1 – Total £950

Klaasen – Rel Group 8 – Total £900

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One Response

  1. Darts Analyst

    It certainly is an “interesting” tournament Phil, I can’t argue with that!

    Should we be concerned though about how much the players have earned? You say “Gary Anderson only earned £3100 for his day’s work”. I can’t imagine that there will be too many darts fans having much sympathy with Anderson over that!

    However I do realise that your point about Anderson’s winnings was to demonstrate the advantage of losing in this format! I do agree with you that I am sure none of the players competing lost intentionally simply to earn more money the next day.

    But as you show the format does encourage this and we must also remember that the prize money is being effectively provided by darts fans gambling on the outcome of a darts match. Therefore, the organisers do have a duty of care to the darts fans to ensure that every incentive is provided for each player to give 100% to win the game.

    As you suggest a tweak of the format may just give tournament a little more credibility and is something worth considering for next year.