JAMIE CAVEN won through to the Championship League Darts Winners Group on Tuesday evening, defeating Paul Nicholson 6-4 to take victory in Group Seven of the internet-streamed event.
Derby’s Caven, 36, continued his return to form in a superb day of darts in the tightest group yet this year, as the eight players battled it out in a high-quality day of darts.
Michael van Gerwen, the recent World Grand Prix champion, won all seven league matches with some superb darts, completing a league stage win over Caven with a 170 checkout and a 107.7 average.
The Dutch ace finished at the top of the league table, but lost 6-3 in the semi-finals to Nicholson – who only took fourth place in the final round of league games with a 6-1 win over Richie Burnett.
That victory also eliminated the Welshman, who had gone into the last games as one of four players alongside Nicholson, Mark Walsh and Brendan Dolan, who could either take a play-off place or be eliminated.
Burnett’s loss, coupled with a win for Walsh over Dolan, meant that the former World Champion was eliminated – despite three league wins – alongside 2009 Championship League winner Colin Osborne, who failed to win a league game on the day.
There was further drama in the semi-finals as Caven defeated Robert Thornton 6-2, with the Scot finishing in second place in the league table with five victories from his league games but failing to match the Derby ace’s scoring power in the last four.
Caven then enjoyed a fine tussle with Nicholson in the decider, breaking throw with a 14-dart finish and taking out legs of 12 and 11 darts as he led 3-1, with Nicholson posting an 11-darter of his own in reply.
Nicholson then took out 110 and 64 to level the game before hitting a 180 and double eight to lead 4-3 – but Caven found another gear to hit back, levelling again on double ten and hitting a key 81 finish to win the ninth and move 5-4 up.
He then opened the tenth with a 171 score and added a 180 as he left 58 after nine darts, before sealing a superb triumph on tops for a 12-darter.
Caven now returns on Thursday for the big-money Winners Group, when he will join Phil Taylor, Simon Whitlock, Wes Newton, Justin Pipe, Dave Chisnall and Ronnie Baxter in competing for the £10,000 first prize and a place in the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts.
“I’m speechless after that!” said Caven. “I’m shattered, mentally drained, but I’m over the moon to get through this group.
“My form over the last couple of years has dipped and I’ve had a lot of personal stuff to deal with, [losing] my dad, and I’m so overwhelmed with how well I’ve been playing recently.
“I’ve made a slight change to my darts and it’s coming off for me. It’s really tough in this event so to get through to Thursday is fantastic.
“I’ll get plenty of rest on Wednesday and come back now for the Winners Group. I’ve never been in the Grand Slam of Darts yet so that’s an aim but I’m not looking that far ahead yet, I just want to get myself ready for Thursday.”
Nicholson will now return on Wednesday to compete in Group Eight as he joins seven other players – including van Gerwen, Thornton, Dolan and Walsh – in bidding to win the final place in the Winners Group.

They are joined by Denis Ovens, Peter Wright and Steve Beaton in Group Eight, which will be streamed exclusively online from 10.30am on Wednesday through LIVEPDC.TV and a host of bookmakers’ websites worldwide.