MENSUR SULJOVIC became the first player to qualify for the Paddy Power Champions League of Darts semi-finals with two wins on Day One in Brighton.
Reigning champion Suljovic recorded two wins on the opening day of the BBC-televised tournament at The Brighton Centre, while Michael van Gerwen was also unbeaten but Simon Whitlock and Dave Chisnall were the first to be eliminated.
Suljovic began the defence of his title with a hard-fought 10-8 win over World Champion Rob Cross in the opening game of the tournament and followed it up with a 10-7 success over Peter Wright to begin his quest for the £100,000 top prize.
"I'm really happy. Every group is hard so it is brilliant I am playing in the semi-finals," said Suljovic.
"Peter came back but I knew if I stayed focused I could win the game. I gave it my best and I won."
After a tense start against Cross, the Austrian found his stride in the second half of the contest to get his first two points on the board and followed that up with a 10-7 victory over Peter Wright, averaging 105.53 in the process.
World number two Wright staved off a comeback from Whitlock to win 10-7 in their opening Group B tie which saw 13 180s hit, while Cross recovered from a disappointing start to the day to eliminate the Australian with a 10-8 success.
With both Wright and Cross now tied on points and leg difference, their clash on Sunday afternoon will be a straight shoot-out to decide who will qualify from Group B alongside Suljovic.
In Group A, Van Gerwen was at his relentless best, producing two ton-plus averages in his victories over Chisnall and Daryl Gurney to top the group and move to within touching distance of a semi-final spot.
The Dutchman averaged 111.23 in his 10-2 demolition of Chisnall, missing just two darts at double and limiting his opponent to four darts at the outer ring.
Van Gerwen followed up his afternoon success by racing into a 5-0 lead over Gurney before the Northern Irishman battled back to 9-7.
Gurney, though, missed two darts to cut the gap to one leg before Van Gerwen stepped in to wrap up a 10-7 win and put one foot into the last four.
"My performance wasn't 100% but I won and that's the only thing that counts," said Van Gerwen, who now plays Gary Anderson on Sunday afternoon.
"I made a few mistakes and I can play a lot better than I showed in the second game.
"I will rest well tonight because I have to be ready for my game with Gary."
World Grand Prix champion Gurney got off to a terrific start with a 10-8 triumph over two-time World Champion Anderson.
A clinical performance from the world number five saw him hit 56% of his attempts at double and three ton-plus checkouts, including a magnificent 158 finish.
However, Anderson's comfortable 10-3 win over Chisnall elevated the Scot to second in Group A heading into the second day of action, with Gurney also still in the mix to progress.
The Paddy Power Champions League of Darts, offering £250,000 in prize money, will be broadcast live on BBC2 on Sunday from 1pm & 6.30pm, as well as through the PDC's series of international broadcast partners.
Coverage is also available in the USA, Central and South America and on the Indian Subcontinent through Facebook Watch.
Paddy Power Champions League of Darts
Saturday September 22
4x Group Matches
Mensur Suljovic 10-8 Rob Cross (B)
Peter Wright 10-7 Simon Whitlock (B)
Daryl Gurney 10-8 Gary Anderson (A)
Michael van Gerwen 10-2 Dave Chisnall (A)
4x Group Matches
Rob Cross 10-8 Simon Whitlock (B)
Mensur Suljovic 10-7 Peter Wright (B)
Gary Anderson 10-3 Dave Chisnall (A)
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Daryl Gurney (A)
Sunday September 23
Afternoon Session (1pm) - BBC2
Final Group Games
Mensur Suljovic v Simon Whitlock (B)
Peter Wright v Rob Cross (B)
Daryl Gurney v Dave Chisnall (A)
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson (A)
Evening Session (6.30pm) – BBC2
Semi-Finals & Final
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