THE Unibet Champions League of Darts will continue to be broadcasted free to air until 2019 under a new deal between the PDC and the BBC, which will also involve a change to the tournament’s qualifying criteria.

The eight-player event was a great success when first staged at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff last September, with BBC One and BBC Two broadcasting live coverage across the two days.

With the eight players split into two groups of four, the opening three sessions featured a round-robin format, before the top two players in each group progressed to the semi-finals and final.

Phil Taylor claimed victory in the tournament as he defeated Michael van Gerwen 11-5 in the final, with James Wade and Gary Anderson winning through to the semi-finals.

Ahead of this year’s £250,000 tournament, which will be held on September 16-17 in Cardiff, the PDC have now extended their contract with the BBC until 2019, extending the terrestrial coverage of the Champions League of Darts.

In addition, a change to the qualifying criteria will guarantee that the reigning champion returns to defend his title, either as one of the top eight players from the PDC Order of Merit following the World Matchplay or, if the defending champion is not in the top eight, the top seven players plus the defending champion qualify.

“The Unibet Champions League of Darts was a massive success last year and this new deal is a reflection of how delighted the BBC were to have the very best players in the sport on terrestrial TV,” said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.

“There is already great anticipation ahead of this year’s Champions League, which promises to be two fantastic days of high-quality action.

“The standard of darts on the circuit has continued to soar this year and we’ve seen some fantastic televised events already, but the Unibet Champions League of Darts on the BBC will be another marvellous weekend.”

The Unibet Champions League of Darts will feature two sessions on each day on Saturday September 16 and Sunday September 17 (1pm & 6.30pm).

Tickets are available now from the Motorpoint Arena Box Office, either by calling 029 2022 4488 or online via motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk.