A new televised tournament, The Champions League of Darts, could see the return to the BBC of the game’s biggest stars, some of whom have not been seen on terrestrial TV for more than two decades.
Players like England’s legendary Phil “the Power” Taylor, the 16 times World Champion who last played on the BBC in 1993, and Dutchman Ramond van Barneveld, also once a fixture of the BBC’s annual Lakeside World Professional Darts Championships coverage, could both be back following the news that the BBC has struck a deal with the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) to show the body’s new knock-out tournament.
The landmark deal is the first time the BBC has covered a PDC event since a ‘darts civil war’ saw the organisation formed after splitting from the British Darts Organisation (BDO). The BBC has shown the BDO’s Lakeside tournament every year since it began in 1978 but its contract expired this year. The PDC’s Premier League Darts competition has been televised by Sky since it started in 2005.
Held on 24th and 25th September at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff and airing on BBC2, the Champions League of Darts will feature the top eight players from the PDC’s Order of Merit, which includes Taylor and van Barneveld and is currently led by world number one Michael van Gerwen. It will see the stars split into two groups of four competing in a round-robin phase, after which the top two players from each group will progress to the knockout semi-finals, with a £100,000 first prize on offer for the eventual champion.
“The BBC has a long history of broadcasting darts but this will be the start of an exciting new era,” said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.
“The Champions League of Darts will bring the very best players in world darts – the top eight from the PDC Order of Merit – to BBC screens for an exciting, quick-fire tournament.
“In addition, it’s fantastic for us to be taking the Champions League of Darts to Cardiff. Welsh fans love their darts and this will be another great opportunity for them to see the sport’s biggest names live.”
Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, added: “We are very pleased to be showing the inaugural Champions League of Dartson the BBC for what is promised to be a thrilling and innovative tournament.
“Darts has always had wide appeal and it is great that audiences will get the chance to see all the action from the world’s top players live on BBC2 and across our platforms.“