PDC European Championship 2015 – Day One Preview

The PDC’s fourth TV major ranking tournament of 2015, the European Championship starts on Friday in Belgium at the Ethias Arena in Hasselt.

This will be the eighth staging of the European Championship since it first took place in 2008. Phil Taylor ruled the tournament for the first four years but since then the trophy has been passed to Simon Whitlock, Adrian Lewis and last year to Michael van Gerwen.

With the format being first to six legs in the opening round it makes predicting things very tough indeed, not to mention there are plenty of players in good form throughout the field.

I have compiled my usual preview stat packs for each of the first round matches. Rather than split them into the afternoon and evening sessions I have opted to put them all together for day one.

So without further ado, here they are!

Reyes vs Hopp

Cristo Reyes
• Reyes burst onto the scene last December at the World Championships where he defeated Wes Newton and Kevin Painter on his way to the Last 16. His run was ended by the eventual World Champion Gary Anderson; Reyes took the first set against Anderson and averaged over 115 in doing so.
• Although he has failed to get past the Last 16 stage of a tour tournament in his first season on the circuit he has tasted victories against the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Stephen Bunting this year.
• This is only his second appearance at a PDC major but the way he adapted to the stage at the World Championship suggests he will rise to the occasion.

Max Hopp
• This is his second appearance at the European Championships; on his debut in 2013 he lost in the first round 6-4 to Paul Nicholson, Hopp led 3-1 and 4-3 in that match. His best result on the main TV stage came against Mervyn King at the World Championships last December when he won their first round match by 3 sets to 2.
• Hopp’s best tournament performances this season have been reaching 2 quarter-finals (one a UK Open qualifier, the other a Players Championship event).
• During the season he has claimed numerous wins against top 16 players. Amongst these are: Ian White, Michael Smith, Kim Huybrechts, Raymond van Barneveld, Adrian Lewis, Dave Chisnall, Mervyn King, Brendan Dolan and Terry Jenkins.

Kist vs Rodriguez

Christian Kist
• Former BDO World Champion Kist is making his second consecutive appearance in the European Championship, last year he lost in the opening round 6-5 to Mervyn King, having led 5-3, and also having had 2 match darts to go through.
• His best tournament result on the circuit this year was a semi-final at a Players Championship tournament back in May. He did beat van Gerwen in the quarter-finals before bowing out to the eventual winner Peter Wright in the last four.
• Kist leads Rodriguez 2-1 in their head to head meetings. The most recent encounter was at a UK Open qualifier in February when Kist won 6-2.

Rowby-John Rodriguez
• Rowby-John is looking for his first win in a PDC TV major ranking event having lost in the opening round at last year’s UK Open, European Championships and World Championships. He did register a notable win at the Grand Slam last year though when he beat Adrian Lewis 5-2 in their group match.
• On the tour his best performances have been a semi-final in a Players Championship event in July where he lost to Jelle Klaasen and a quarter-final at the European Matchplay in September where he lost to van Gerwen.

Whitlock vs Caris

Simon Whitlock
• Whitlock has an excellent record at the European Championships having won the tournament in 2012 and reached the final a year later in his defence of the title. He was also a semi-finalist in 2011. Last year he suffered a first round exit to van Barneveld.
• After a run of 5 successive defeats in the opening round of PDC major ranking tournaments he has now won his last 2 first round matches. Beating Klaasen at the World Matchplay and Gilding at the World Grand Prix.
• Whitlock’s best tour performances have been 3 semi-final appearances in Players Championship events this season; the most recent was in September. He had a good run to the quarter-finals in the last Players Championship tournament played last Sunday, on his way to the quarters he beat the previous day’s tournament winner Peter Wright and was only edged out 6-5 by Chisnall.

Magnus Caris
• Caris has yet to get past the Last 32 stage in a PDC major ranking tournament; he does have performances of note in big tournaments having reached the semi-finals of both the BDO World Championship and World Masters but both were in the early 1990’s.
• He qualified for this tournament through the SDC (Scandinavian) qualifiers. On the PDC tour his best performance has been a quarter-final at a pro tour event in March, he defeated Mervyn King and Peter Wright on the way to the last 8 where he lost a last leg decider to James Wade.
• Although Caris trails Whitlock 2-1 in their past meetings he did win their most recent encounter 6-4 at a pro tour event back in March 2013.

Pipe vs van Duijvenbode

Justin Pipe
• This is his fifth appearance in the tournament; having been beaten in the first round in 3 of his 4 previous attempts, his only win came in 2013 against Jani Haavisto. Last year he lost in the opening round to eventual champion van Gerwen.
• Pipe ended a 9 match losing streak in PDC major ranking tournaments when he defeated Steve Beaton at the World Grand Prix. He didn’t play well in his next game though and lost to Robert Thornton who then went on to win the tournament.
• He can bring some positives into this tournament having beaten Phil Taylor 6-5 at the Players Championship tournament last Saturday. His best performance on tour this season has been reaching the final of the Dutch Darts Masters in June.

Dirk van Duijvenbode
• He will be making his debut in this tournament, his only other experience of PDC major ranking tournaments were at the UK Open, losing in early rounds in both 2014 and 2015.
• On the main tour this season he has reached 2 quarter-finals in Players Championship events. The most recent being in July where he beat today’s opponent Justin Pipe in the first round.
• The win against Pipe in July was his second over him in 2015, having also won a pro tour encounter in May. The only other time they have played each other was in 2011 a match in which Pipe was the victor.

Smith vs Price

Michael Smith
• This is Smith’s second appearance in the tournament. Last year he made an early first round exit to Brendan Dolan, falling behind 4-0 without having a shot at a double Smith went on to lose 6-2 with an average of just over 86.
• He has had a productive season on tour with 3 ranking tournament wins; the most recent was in September in the European Darts Trophy.
• This is the third major TV ranking tournament in succession that Smith and Price have been paired together in the first round. Price won at the World Matchplay and Smith won more recently at the World Grand Prix. Smith also won their most recent tour meeting at a Euro Tour event in October.

Gerwyn Price
• Price is making his debut at the European Championships but he only joined the tour at the start of last season; he has been an ever present in the last 4 TV ranking tournaments.
• The furthest Price has reached in a ranking event this season was a semi-final at a pro tour event in May. His best tournament performance was when he reached the quarter-finals at the World Matchplay in July having beaten both Michael Smith and Adrian Lewis.

White vs Bunting

Ian White
• White has played in the European Championship’s two times previously (2012 & 2014). Both times he has made it through the opening round. Last year he was beaten in the Last 16 by Dave Chisnall 10-9, having led 9-7 he was broken twice in the final 3 legs.
• He has reached the quarter-finals of the last 2 TV major ranking tournaments, both times by the eventual champions.
• After losing his first 5 matches against Bunting, White has now won the last 4 meetings between the two, most significantly in the opening round of the World Matchplay in July.

Stephen Bunting
• Bunting reached the quarter-final stage on his debut in this tournament last year. On his way to the quarters he registered a very impressive 10-9 win over Phil Taylor in the Last 16 where both players averaged over 102. Terry Jenkins ended the run of Bunting in the next round.
• His form coming into this tournament is good, having reached a semi-final and a quarter-final in the last two Players Championship events.

Thornton vs Henderson

Robert Thornton
• In 5 previous appearances in the European Championships Thornton hasn’t failed to get past the first round. His best run in the tournament came in the inaugural event in 2008 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Phil Taylor. Last year he lost 10-8 in the second round to Terry Jenkins.
• His best performance on tour this season is unquestionably his win at the World Grand Prix when he ended Michael van Gerwen’s attempt at a clean sweep of the major ranking tournaments.

John Henderson
• Henderson is making his debut in the European Championship, though no stranger to the big stage he has now competed in each of the PDC major ranking tournaments.
• Henderson’s last 3 defeats in major ranking tournaments have been at the hands of Peter Wright, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson, all in the current top 4 of the PDC rankings.
• He does have a 4-1 losing record against Thornton, but has won the last meeting between the pair which came in May this year at a pro tour event.

Wright vs Norris

Peter Wright
• Wright has reached the quarter-finals twice from his three previous appearances in this tournament. Last year he defeated van de Pas and Kim Huybrechts before his run was ended in the quarters by van Barneveld.
• He has reached 7 ranking finals this season (including the UK Open), the most recent final was when he won a Players Championship event in the weekend prior to this tournament starting, and having also reached a Euro Tour final the week before he will be looking to make it 3 finals in 3 consecutive weekends.
• Wright has won both his previous matches against Norris; their most recent encounter was at a tour event in March when Wright won 6-5.

Alan Norris
• Norris is making his debut in this tournament having only joined the PDC at the start of the year. He is a former BDO World finalist so knows how to perform on the TV stage.
• He impressively won his first PDC tournament earlier this month when he won a Players Championship event in Ireland, notably that was one of the only two Players Championship events (from 20 played) which contained each of the current PDC Top 32 in the field.

Lewis vs van de Pas

Adrian Lewis
• Lewis is a former European Championship winner having lifted the trophy in 2013. He has reached the final on two other occasions. Interestingly in his other 4 appearances at the tournament he has lost in the opening match. So it’s either, reach the final or a first round exit for Lewis!
• Lewis has reached the final of 6 ranking tournaments this season, but none of those have been since May, his best tournament since then has been the quarter-finals at a Players Championship event last weekend.
• He won his only previous match against van de Pas when they played in a tour event in 2014.

Benito van de Pas
• He made his debut in this tournament last year losing 6-5 to Peter Wright in the first round; van de Pas led 5-4 and did have a dart to win the match in the deciding leg.
• He has reached 2 ranking finals this season, the most recent of this was only last weekend when he lost 6-5 to Peter Wright in the final of a pro tour event.

Suljovic vs Chisnall

Mensur Suljovic
• Suljovic has taken part in every European Championship’s barring 2010. He has never been past the last 16 though and has fallen at the first hurdle in each of the last 4 years.
• He has had a very impressive year in the TV major ranking tournaments having reached the SF’s at the World Grand Prix and the QF’s at the UK Open and World Matchplay. In all ranking events during 2015 he has reached 5 semi-finals but has been beaten in each of them.
• An interesting fact is that in his runs to the quarter-finals at the World Matchplay and semi-finals at the World Grand Prix he played a combined total of 7 matches. All his opponents in these matches were either PDC major winners or have reached a PDC major final. So with him playing Chisnall here this will be his 8th consecutive TV match against a player who has reached a PDC major final.

Dave Chisnall
• Chisnall is making his 5th appearance in this tournament. He has won 3 of his 4 previous first round matches. Last year saw his best run when he reached the quarter-finals, he came from 9-7 behind against Ian White in the Last 16 to win 10-9 before losing to eventual champion van Gerwen 10-5 in a match where van Gerwen averaged 111 and Chisnall himself averaged over 100.
• On the tour his best performance came in winning a Players Championship event in May. He has reached a further 3 finals also, with 2 of these coming since mid-September.
• The two players have only met once previously and the match went 6-5 in Chisnall’s favour in the quarter-final of a pro tour event in April earlier this year.

Wade vs Jenkins

James Wade
• Wade has competed in every staging of the European Championship since it started in 2008. He has won 4 and lost 3 of his previous first round matches, most recently last year when he was beaten 6-4 by Ronny Huybrechts. Wade’s best run in the tournament came in 2009 when he reached the semi-finals only just losing 11-10 to Steve Beaton for a place in the final.
• He has won twice on the tour this season, both of those wins in Players Championship events. His consistency has seen him reach a further 6 finals, including a final appearance at the World Matchplay in July.
• Wade has a healthy 25-14 winning record against Jenkins including 3 wins from 4 matches in 2015.

Terry Jenkins
• Jenkins has also played in the 7 previous editions of this tournament. He has won 3 and lost 4 of his first round matches played. Jenkins best run came last year when he went all the way to the final, beating Gary Anderson, Robert Thornton, Stephen Bunting and Mervyn King before losing to van Gerwen. In his first round match against Anderson last year he survived 3 missed match darts from Anderson.
• Jenkins did win the last time he played Wade in a PDC major tournament; that was at the UK Open in 2014 when he edged out Wade 9-8 in a Last 16 match.

Anderson vs Dolan

Gary Anderson
• In his four previous appearances at this tournament Anderson’s best showing is a quarter-final in 2009 when he lost to Phil Taylor. Since then he has lost in the first round in two out of three occasions, most recently last year when he bowed out 6-5 to Terry Jenkins.
• Anderson won the final Players Championship event, coming only the weekend before this tournament starts. On his way to the win he beat Adrian Lewis, Stephen Bunting, Dave Chisnall and then James Wade in the final.

Brendan Dolan
• Dolan made his debut in this tournament in 2012 and went all the way to the semi-finals that year, in doing so he became the first player to defeat Phil Taylor at the tournament, with Taylor having won the tournament from 2008-2011.
• In last year’s opening round at the European Championship Dolan recorded the highest match average which was a 104 against Michael Smith. He also performed well in the next round against van Gerwen in a game he lost 10-8.
• Dolan has an 8-5 head to head winning record against Anderson and won their last meeting on the tour earlier this month. Anderson has beaten Dolan in their last 2 matches on the TV stage including at the World Grand Prix which was also earlier this month.

Klaasen vs van Barneveld

Jelle Klaasen
• In 6 previous appearances in this tournament Klaasen has only been beaten in the opening round on one occasion. His best showing was a semi-final in 2009; he has gone as far as the quarter-final in each of the last 2 years.
• Klaasen has had an excellent season on the tour winning 2 tournaments and reaching 2 other finals. He has reached the quarter-finals or better in 6 of his last 9 tournaments.
• He ended a 7 year run without a win against van Barneveld when he beat his compatriot in a pro tour event in September. The greatest darting night of Klaasen’s career came against van Barneveld at the BDO World Championships in 2006 when Klassen defeated Barney 7-5 to win the World title.

Raymond van Barneveld
• Has never lost in the first round of this tournament in 7 previous years of competing in it. Barney has reached the semi-finals on 2 occasions and has 3 quarter-final appearances also. Last year he lost to van Gerwen at the semi-final stage.
• He has exited the last 2 PDC major ranking tournaments at the first round stage, losing to Hamilton at the World Matchplay and Adrian Lewis at the World Grand Prix. The last time he lost in the opening round of consecutive PDC TV ranking majors was at the end of 2012 which was the first time since he joined the PDC that he had lost in the opening round of consecutive PDC TV ranking majors.

Taylor vs van der Voort

Phil Taylor
• From the birth of the tournament Taylor won the European Championship title for four consecutive years from 2008 to 2011. Since then he hasn’t been past the quarter-finals. He still has a 100% record in the first round though.
• He is still looking for his first PDC major TV ranking title since the World Matchplay in 2014, a run of 7 tournaments which is his longest run without one since 2007/08.

Vincent van der Voort
• Vincent van der Voort hasn’t had a good record in this tournament. In 7 years competing at the event he made it past the first round for the first time last year, that win coming 6-2 against Robert Wagner.
• He ended a 4 year run without a win against Taylor when he defeated him at the World Grand Prix earlier this month. They have met at the European Championship before, Taylor winning 6-3 in the first round back in 2013.

van Gerwen vs de Zwaan

Michael van Gerwen
• Michael van Gerwen will be defending the title he won last year when he beat Terry Jenkins in the final. He has participated in this tournament 6 times and has won his first round match on 5 occasions.
• The last time van Gerwen lost in the first round of a PDC major ranking tournament was in December 2011 at the Players Championship finals when he lost 6-0 to Gary Anderson.
• His run of failing to win a ranking tournament in the last 6 he has played is the longest he has gone without a ranking tournament win this season.

Jeffrey de Zwaan
• He will be making his debut in this tournament, having only joined the PDC tour at the start of 2015. The only other previous PDC major he has competed in is the UK Open. During his time in the BDO he reached the Last 16 of the Winmau World Masters in 2014.
• His best run in a tour event this season was when he reached the quarter-finals of a Players Championship event in April. He has also hit a 9 dart finish in a tour event this season.

Huybrechts vs King

Kim Huybrechts
• Huybrechts made his debut at the tournament in 2011 which was also his debut in a PDC major ranking tournament; he lost in the quarter-finals that year to Adrian Lewis. A year later (2012) he went a step further and reached the semi-finals losing to eventual champion Simon Whitlock. In the last 2 years he exited in the Last 32 (2013) and Last 16 (2014).
• He has failed to get past the Last 16 of a PDC major ranking tournament since reaching the final of the Players Championship in 2012.
• His best run in a tournament this year came when he won the European Grand Prix earlier this month beating James Wade in the semi-finals and Peter Wright in the final.

Mervyn King
• King has been an ever present at the European Championships since it started in 2008. His best performance came last year when he reached the semi-finals. He has won 5 of his 7 previous first round matches in the tournament.
• He has been beaten in the first round of the last 2 PDC major ranking tournaments, losing to Andrew Gilding at the World Matchplay and Terry Jenkins at the World Grand Prix.
• King has a 5-4 winning record against Kim Huybrechts, significantly winning their last 2 meetings (including one this year) and their one and only meeting on a big TV stage when he defeated Huybrechts 10-4 at the 2014 World Matchplay.

So there we go plenty of action on offer on Friday, hope you enjoy the darts!

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