2016 PDC European Championship – Day One Preview

This weekend will see top class PDC darting action coming from Hasselt in Belgium with the 9th staging of the European Championship broadcast live on ITV4 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The tournament is comprised of the 32 players who finished in the top 32 places in the European Tour Order of Merit following 10 European Tour events during 2016. The top 8 players were seeded and the rest of the draw was an open draw which has thrown up some very tough matches in round one most notably James Wade vs Gary Anderson.

Michael van Gerwen enters the tournament as the defending champion having won the event in each of the last 2 years and as you might expect he is the favourite to win the tournament for the 3rd year in a row.

Here is a look at the full tournament draw.

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Simon Whitlock

Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price

Jelle Klaasen (8) v Steve West

Michael Smith v Stephen Bunting

Kim Huybrechts (5) v James Wilson

Mervyn King v Devon Petersen

James Wade (4) v Gary Anderson

Max Hopp v Benito van de Pas

Mensur Suljovic (2) v Jermaine Wattimena

Ian White v Terry Jenkins

Alan Norris (7) v Phil Taylor

Chris Dobey v Joe Cullen

Dave Chisnall (6) v Kyle Anderson

Jamie Caven v James Richardson

Peter Wright (3) v Justin Pipe

Cristo Reyes v Robert Thornton

 

Now for my previews which cover all of Friday’s first round matches

Friday October 28

Afternoon Session (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)

caven-v-richardson

Jamie Caven

  • Jamie Caven was the last man to make the cut for the tournament, he finished 32nd on the European Tour Order of Merit with £8,500. Caven’s best performance on the European Tour in 2016 was a Last 16 appearance at the European Matchplay where he lost to Peter Wright having earlier beaten Simon Whitlock.
  • This is his sixth time he has qualified for the European Championship having made his debut back in 2009. Caven has twice reached the quarter-finals at this tournament, in 2010 he lost to Terry Jenkins having earlier eliminated Gary Anderson, then in 2013 he lost 10-9 to Simon Whitlock having surrendered a 9-3 lead, earlier in that tournament he dropped a total of 2 legs in beating both Dave Chisnall and James Wade.
  • In total Caven has only lost 1 of his previous 5 first round matches at the European Championship, the sole defeat came against Gary Anderson in 2011.
  • Caven is aiming to get further than the Last 32 of a PDC TV major for only the 2nd time since November 2014.

James Richardson

  • James Richardson finished tied for 30th on the European Tour Order of Merit with £9,000. His best performance on the European Tour in 2016 was a quarter-final appearance at the German Darts Masters in March, in that tournament he notably accounted for Adrian Lewis in the Last 16 before losing to the eventual runner-up Peter Wright.
  • This is Richardson’s debut at the European Championship; he has qualified for the UK Open Finals on three previous occasions and has also twice featured at the World Championship.
  • Richardson memorably defeated Raymond van Barneveld at the World Championships back in December 2011.

Head to Head (Caven leads 3-1)

Jamie Caven has the lead in their overall head to head record but James Richardson came out on top 6-5 in their most recent meeting which was only a few days ago at last weekend’s World Series of Darts Finals qualifiers. Prior to that encounter Caven had only dropped a total of 3 legs in winning their previous 3 matchups.

Verdict

Both players won’t have been unhappy with this draw as they could have faced much tougher first round opponents. Caven has produced some excellent performances at this tournament in previous years; though not all came at this venue he still has good memories, which is a positive. I don’t think there will be a lot to separate the two players and it could be as tight as their most recent meeting which came last weekend when Richardson won 6-5. I genuinely think this could go either way, in terms of betting value I would edge towards Richardson.

 

gurney-v-price

Daryl Gurney

  • Daryl Gurney finished 15th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £20,500 in prize money, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a run to the final at the Dutch Darts Masters in February, beating Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis on the way before losing to Michael van Gerwen in the final. Gurney exacted some revenge on van Gerwen at the recent German Darts Championship but his run was ended in the quarter-finals by Mensur Suljovic.
  • Gurney will be making his European Championship debut having never previously qualified for the tournament.
  • His best performance in a PDC TV major ranking tournament came in December 2015 when he reached the semi-finals at the Players Championship Finals, earlier this month he reached the quarter-finals at the World Grand Prix.

Gerwyn Price

  • Gerwyn Price finished tied for 17th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £16,500 in prize money, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were quarter-final appearances at the European Darts Trophy and the European Darts Grand Prix, those quarter-final appearances came in consecutive weekends during September.
  • Price is making his 2nd appearance at the European Championship having made his debut in last year’s tournament. In the opening round last year he lost 6-4 in a good quality match against Michael Smith with both players averaging around 98 at the end of the game.
  • His best performance in a PDC TV major ranking tournament was when he reached the quarter-finals at the 2015 World Matchplay, since then however he has lost in his first match in 5 of the last 7 PDC TV major ranking tournaments he has played.
  • Price has won 2 ranking tournaments during 2016, both were Players Championship tournaments and came only 3 weeks apart during May.

Head to Head (Price leads 1-0)

In their only previous meeting Gerwyn Price won 6-5 in the Last 32 of a Players Championship tournament in May of this year, Price went on to win that tournament.

Verdict

This is an intriguing first round match between two players who have enjoyed some excellent results during 2016. Price has ranking tournament wins to his name but Gurney has gone deep in tournaments and it is only a matter of time before he wins one. They both don’t lack confidence, and this should lead to a very watchable encounter. Gurney has come back very well from his absence with a hand injury during September and a recent win over van Gerwen will have given him a huge boost. I think Gurney has the edge with his scoring power and recent form and will just edge though to the next round.

 

dobey-v-cullen

Chris Dobey

  • Chris Dobey finished tied for 30th on the European Tour Order of Merit with £9,000. His best performance on the European Tour in 2016 was at the German Darts Masters in March when he reached the quarter-finals, at that tournament he defeated Robert Thornton and Dave Chisnall before losing in a last leg decider to Michael van Gerwen, in all 3 of those matches Dobey averaged over 100.
  • This is his European Championship debut, he has previously played at the UK Open and at last year’s World Series of Darts finals where he lost 6-5 to Terry Jenkins in round one.
  • Dobey comes into the tournament having reached his first PDC ranking final last Friday at a Players Championship tournament; he defeated Dave Chisnall, Stephen Bunting and Adrian Lewis before losing out in the final to Simon Whitlock. He then backed this up by earning qualification for the Grand Slam of Darts at Sunday’s qualifiers.

Joe Cullen

  • Joe Cullen finished tied for 17th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £16,500 in prize money, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a run to the semi-finals at the German Darts Masters, in that tournament he defeated James Wade, Benito van de Pas and Gary Anderson in consecutive matches before losing to the eventual champion Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals.
  • Cullen is making his European Championship debut, but has featured at the World Championship UK Open, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix previously.
  • Earlier this year he had his best run in a PDC TV ranking tournament when he reached the quarter-finals at the UK Open.
  • Cullen has reached the final in 2 ranking tournaments during 2016, and is now inside the top 32 in the main PDC Order of Merit.

Head to Head (Cullen leads 1-0)

The only previous meeting between Chris Dobey and Joe Cullen was at the 2015 German Darts Masters UK qualifying event, Cullen won that match 6-3.

Verdict

This is the match I am most looking forward to seeing in the afternoon session. Both Dobey and Cullen made it through to PDC ranking finals this season and are in the best form of their darting careers. Although they are a similar age Cullen has the edge in big stage experience having been on the PDC circuit a number of years now but Dobey is making big strides and as he showed earlier this year on the Euro Tour he can mix it with the best players. I am finding it very hard to pick a winner, if pressed I will side with Cullen but only just.

 

white-v-jenkins

Ian White

  • Ian White finished tied for 12th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £23,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy where he lost to 6-0 to Dave Chisnall having eliminated Peter Wright 6-5 in the quarter-finals.
  • White will be competing at the European Championships for the 4th time; he reached the Last 16 in both 2012 and 2014, though he lost 6-5 in the opening round to Stephen Bunting last year.
  • On his European Championship debut back in 2012 he defeated Adrian Lewis 6-0 in the first round.
  • He has won 3 Players Championship tournaments on the PDC circuit in 2016. The first of those came back in April, when he inflicted a very rare 6-0 defeat on Michael van Gerwen in the final.

Terry Jenkins

  • Terry Jenkins finished tied for 12th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £23,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the Austrian Darts Open in June where he lost to Michael Smith having earlier defeated Benito van de Pas and Peter Wright.
  • Jenkins is competing at the European Championships for the 9th year and is one of only four men never to have missed a year since the tournament started in 2008. He made it all the way through to the final in 2014 when he lost to van Gerwen and narrowly missed out on a place in the final in 2010 when he lost 11-10 to Phil Taylor.
  • In 8 previous appearances in the first round he has lost on 5 occasions, including first round exits in 3 of the last 4 years. In 2015 he was beaten 6-3 by James Wade in the opening round.
  • Jenkins has won his first match at each of his last 4 PDC TV major ranking tournaments, including a win against James Wade earlier this month at the World Grand Prix.

Head to Head (Jenkins leads 8-7)

There isn’t a lot to separate Terry Jenkins and Ian White over their previous 15 meetings with Jenkins only just having the edge courtesy of winning their most recent encounter 6-5 in a European Tour match in July. Jenkins has actually won 3 of their last 4 matches but White came out on top in their only 2 previous meetings in TV tournaments, winning 9-2 at the Players Championship finals in 2013 and 10-4 at the World Matchplay in 2014.

Verdict

White and Jenkins have plenty of experience and plenty of talent. If they are both on the top of their game we will see plenty of 180’s, some high finishes and one of the best matches of the first round, but that isn’t guaranteed as sometimes inconsistencies can creep into their games and they can both be guilty of lapses. White for example has won 3 titles this season but recently he has also lost a number of games to players who he should be beating. I can’t pick a clear favourite to win the match but I would think there would be more value to be had on Jenkins.

 

reyes-v-thornton

Cristo Reyes

  • Cristo Reyes finished tied for 28th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £9,500, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were two Last 16 appearances. At the German Darts Masters he lost 6-5 to the eventual runner-up Peter Wright and at the German Darts Championship he lost to Jelle Klaasen who also went on to reach the final.
  • Reyes made his European Championship debut last year when he reached the Last 16 before losing to Michael van Gerwen, in the opening round Reyes averaged over 100 in his 6-2 win over Max Hopp.
  • Since defeating Hopp in the 1st round here last year he has lost his last 4 matches in PDC TV major ranking tournaments, the most recent being at the World Grand Prix earlier this month when he lost 2-1 against Kyle Anderson.

Robert Thornton

  • Robert Thornton finished tied for 20th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £12,000, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were three Last 16 appearances.
  • Thornton made his European Championship debut back in 2008 in the first ever staging of the event. He went on to reach the semi-finals that year before losing to the eventual champion Phil Taylor. This is the 7th time he has qualified for the tournament.
  • Last year was the first year in which he failed to get past the first round of the European Championship when he lost 6-4 to John Henderson. Henderson won the final 2 legs of the match with checkouts of 124 and 111.
  • On the PDC circuit in 2016 Thornton has only made it through to one ranking quarter-final.

Head to Head (Thornton leads 2-0)

Robert Thornton has won each of their two previous meetings; those matches were played a day apart at Players Championship tournaments in March 2015.

Verdict

Robert Thornton has the greater pedigree having won TV major titles and having competed in the Premier League but he has struggled to find good form since winning the Grand Prix last year. Reyes has shown he has good quality but I still think he needs more good runs in TV tournaments to take his game up a level, he can be an excellent scorer but sometimes isn’t as clinical in finishing legs off which has to improve if he is to realise his full potential. The first couple of legs in this match should be vital, if Thornton starts confidently he will be hard to stop but he hasn’t shown enough of that this year and Reyes can take advantage. I’m tipping a Reyes win.

 

king-v-petersen

Mervyn King

  • Mervyn King finished 22nd on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £11,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the Dutch Darts Masters back in February when he was beaten by Michael van Gerwen having previously beaten Gary Anderson, Benito van de Pas and his opponent in this match Devon Petersen.
  • King has been an ever present at the European Championship since it started in 2008. His best run in the tournament was two years ago when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Terry Jenkins.
  • He has made it past the first round in 5 of his 8 years in competing at the European Championships but exited in the first round last year at the hands of Kim Huybrechts.
  • King lost in his opening match at both the UK Open and World Grand Prix this year but at the World Matchplay he reached the quarter-finals and pushed Phil Taylor all the way before losing 16-14.

Devon Petersen

  • Devon Petersen finished tied for 24th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a Last 16 appearance at the Dutch Darts Masters back in February when he was beaten by Mervyn King having previously eliminated Kim Huybrechts.
  • Petersen is making his European Championship debut this year. He has previously featured at three World Championships and three UK Open final tournaments.
  • His best performance in a PDC TV ranking tournament was at the UK Open in 2015 when he reached the quarter-finals before running into Michael van Gerwen.

Head to Head (They are level with 1 win each)

Both of the two previous meetings between Mervyn King and Devon Petersen came during this year with each player having a win to their name. As has been mentioned above, King won their match at the Dutch Darts Masters, more recently Petersen won a last leg decider at a Players Championship tournament in early May.

Verdict

Mervyn King has been to the business end of many big TV tournaments over the years but isn’t the consistent performer he was, in July at the Matchplay he showed what he is still capable of, but tournaments like that have been few and far between in the last couple of years. Petersen has threatened to make big strides but hasn’t risen up the rankings as quickly as he looked likely to and doesn’t come here in good form having lost 7 of his last 8 matches. I think King will use every bit of his experience and get a win in this game.

 

smith-v-bunting

Michael Smith

  • Michael Smith finished tied for 8th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £31,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a final appearance at the Austrian Darts Open in June when he was beaten by Phil Taylor; Smith also reached the semi-finals at the German Darts Masters.
  • Smith is appearing at the European Championships for the 3rd consecutive year having made his debut in 2014 when he lost 6-2 in the round one to Brendan Dolan.
  • Last year he defeated Gerwyn Price in the opening round before losing 10-5 to Phil Taylor in a match where Smith was averaging around a 100 for most of the game.
  • Smith’s defeat in the first round of the World Grand Prix earlier this month ended a run where he had won his first match in his previous 7 PDC TV ranking tournaments.

Stephen Bunting

  • Stephen Bunting finished 14th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £21,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the European Darts Open in late July when he was beaten by Peter Wright, Bunting had earlier defeated Michael Smith in that tournament.
  • Bunting is also appearing at the tournament for the 3rd time having made his debut in 2014 when he progressed through to the quarter-finals defeating Phil Taylor 10-9 in the process before losing to Terry Jenkins.
  • Last year he came through a tough first round match against Ian White in a game which went the full 11 legs. In the second round he was eliminated by Dave Chisnall.
  • In March he won his 2nd PDC ranking tournament, along the way he defeated Robert Thornton, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen.

Head to Head (Bunting leads 4-2)

Stephen Bunting has won each of their last 4 meetings, including the two matches they have contested during 2016; both of which were on the European Tour. They have met twice in PDC major ranking tournaments previously with Bunting coming out on top at the World Championships in late 2014 and at the UK Open in 2015. Both of Smith’s wins against Bunting were back in 2014.

Verdict

Smith and Bunting both come from the same part of the UK and know each other’s game very well, they both play at a pace which will suit the others rhythm and it should make for a good game. There is no doubting they both possess excellent talent but I think it’s fair to say that on the whole their results during 2016 haven’t always matched up to what they should, even though Bunting has of course won a ranking tournament. They are both proven winners and on their day can go deep into any tournament but hitting a consistent level can be difficult for the pair. Bunting has won their last 4 meetings and I think he will stretch that to 5 wins in a row in this match.

 

hopp-v-van-de-pas

Max Hopp

  • Max Hopp finished tied for 24th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a quarter-final appearance at the European Matchplay when he was beaten by Peter Wright having previously eliminated Ian White and Terry Jenkins.
  • This is the 3rd time that Hopp has qualified for the European Championship; he made his debut in 2013 and participated again last year.
  • He has yet to win a match at the tournament, in 2013 he was beaten by Paul Nicholson and last year was defeated by Cristo Reyes.
  • Hopp will be aiming to get further than the Last 32 in a PDC TV major ranking tournament for the first time.

Benito van de Pas

  • Benito van de Pas finished 10th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £26,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the International Darts Open in early September when he lost to Kim Huybrechts, van de Pas also registered a further two quarter-final appearances.
  • This is the 3rd consecutive year that he has qualified for the European Championship since making his tournament debut in 2014.
  • Van de Pas has lost 6-5 in the first round in each of the last 2 years, in 2014 he lost to Peter Wright and last year he was defeated by Adrian Lewis.
  • He enters the tournament in good form having won a Players Championship tournament last Saturday, that was his 3rd ranking tournament win of 2016 and he has also appeared in 2 other ranking finals.

Head to Head (van de Pas leads 3-1)

Max Hopp won their first ever match back in 2012 but since then van de Pas has won each of their last 3 encounters. Their most significant, and also their last meeting came in December 2015 at the World Championships when van de Pas won 3-1.

Verdict

They are the two youngest players in the tournament but they have both been around the darting circuit for a number of years and have experience that belies their ages. Benito van de Pas is lot further ahead in terms of darting progression than Max Hopp is and carries the confidence of having won 3 ranking tournaments this year. I expect van de Pas to have too much ability and experience for Hopp and think he will progress to round two.

 

Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)

klaasen-v-west

Jelle Klaasen

  • Jelle Klaasen finished tied for 8th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £31,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a final appearance at the German Darts Championship earlier this month when he lost in a last leg decider against Alan Norris. Klaasen made it through to the quarter-finals in 3 other tournaments but lost out to Michael van Gerwen on each occasion.
  • Klaasen played in the first ever European Championship tournament back in 2008 and has only failed to qualify on one occasion since then. His best run at the tournament came in 2009 when he reached the semi-finals before falling to Phil Taylor; he has reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 3 years. Last year Klaasen defeated Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade on his way to the quarter-finals where he was stopped by Gary Anderson.
  • Overall he has only failed to get part the first round once (that was in 2011 vs Chisnall). His last 4 wins in opening round at this tournament have all been by a score of 6-4.
  • Since reaching consecutive TV ranking semi-finals at the World Championship and UK Open earlier this year Klassen has lost in the first round at both the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix.

Steve West

  • Steve West finished 23rd on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a quarter-final appearance at the German Darts Championship where he defeated Stephen Bunting and Kim Huybrechts before losing to the eventual champion Alan Norris.
  • This is the first time that West has qualified for the European Championship. Earlier this month West also made his World Grand Prix debut and it proved to be a memorable debut as he knocked out Phil Taylor in the opening round.
  • West reached his first PDC ranking final in September at a Players Championship tournament; he only lost that final in a last leg decider to Michael van Gerwen.

Head to Head (Klaasen leads 5-1)

Jelle Klaasen may hold a winning head to head record against Steve West but in their last encounter, which was played in May of this year it was West who came out on top, winning 6-1 at a Players Championship tournament. This will be their first meeting on the TV stage.

Verdict

Jelle Klaasen has a good record at this tournament having reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 3 years and comes here in good form having had a good run to the final of the German Darts Championship earlier this month, Klassen would have finished higher in the Euro Tour rankings but for running into an inspired van Gerwen on more than one occasion. Steve West is playing some excellent darts in 2016 and his recent results have started to reflect this, he has proven he can hold his nerve on the big TV stage when he knocked Phil Taylor out of the World Grand Prix. This match has the potential to be high scoring and highly entertaining, I make Klaasen the favourite but rule Steve West out at your peril he is a huge threat and it would not be a big shock if he won.

 

huybrechts-v-wilson

Kim Huybrechts

  • Kim Huybrechts finished 5th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £38,500, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was an appearance in the final of the International Darts Open where he lost 6-5 to Mensur Suljovic. Huybrechts was very consistent on the Euro Tour reaching 4 other semi-finals but was beaten by Michael van Gerwen in all 4 of those semi-finals.
  • Huybrechts is returning to the European Championship for the 6th having qualified each year since making his debut in 2011. He progressed through to the quarter-finals on his debut year before losing narrowly 10-8 to Adrian Lewis. A year later he went a step further and reached the semi-finals only to lose 11-9 to eventual champion Simon Whitlock.
  • The only time he has failed to get past round one was in 2013 when he lost 6-4 to defending champion Simon Whitlock.
  • His run to the quarter-finals at the recent World Grand Prix was only the second time he had made it through to a TV major ranking quarter-final since he reached the Players Championship finals back in December 2012.

James Wilson

  • James Wilson finished tied for 24th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a semi-final appearance at the International Darts Open in early September where he lost to the eventual champion Mensur Suljovic.
  • Wilson will be making his European Championship debut in this match.
  • It is only the 4th PDC TV ranking tournament he has featured in since switching from the BDO in 2015; he has won at least one match in each of the previous three.
  • Wilson appeared in 3 consecutive ranking semi-finals in August/September and then went on to reach his first final which came at a Players Championship tournament later in September; he was beaten by Michael van Gerwen in that final.

Head to Head (Huybrechts leads 2-0)

Kim Huybrechts has won both of their previous meetings, both of which came back in 2015, he triumphed 6-2 in a UK Open qualifier and 6-4 at a Players Championship tournament. This will be their first ever meeting on the TV stage.

Verdict

Both of these players have won plenty of matches over the last 3 months, Huybrechts in particular was in blistering form from July to October, though his results have tailed off a little in the past few weeks. Wilson is in his best form since switching from the BDO in early 2015 and is now showing his true potential. It’s all set up for an excellent match of high quality, I think if they both play their top game then Huybrechts has the edge but I think Wilson has the capability to be more consistent. Over a first to 6 legs format I think there is some value on Wilson to win this match.

 

chisnall-v-k-anderson

Dave Chisnall

  • Dave Chisnall finished 6th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £38,000, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were runs to the final at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy and the European Matchplay which were played in consecutive weeks back in May. Chisnall also reached the semi-finals at the German Darts Championship earlier this month where he lost to Jelle Klaasen.
  • Chisnall is appearing at this tournament for the 6th time since making his debut in 2011. His best appearances in the tournament have been two quarter-final appearances in 2014 and 2015, Chisnall lost to the eventual champion Michael van Gerwen on both occasions.
  • His only first round defeat at the European Championship came in 2013 when he was beaten 6-0 by Jamie Caven.
  • Three of his five defeats at the tournament have been against the eventual winner (van Gerwen twice and Simon Whitlock), he also lost to Adrian Lewis in 2011 who then went on to reach the final.
  • Only once since the Players Championship finals in November 2014 has Chisnall failed to win his opening match at a PDC major TV ranking tournament, that defeat was at the UK Open earlier this year when he lost to Gary Anderson.

Kyle Anderson

  • Kyle Anderson finished tied for 20th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £12,000, his best performance on the European Tour circuit in 2016 was a run to the semi-finals at the Austrian Darts Open in June where he defeated Michael van Gerwen before losing in a last leg decider to the eventual champion Phil Taylor.
  • This is the first time that Kyle Anderson has qualified for the European Championship.
  • Anderson hasn’t failed to get past the first round in any of the last 4 PDC major TV ranking tournaments, and he had an impressive run to the quarter-finals at the UK Open in March.

Head to Head (Chisnall leads 7-1)

This will be the 9th time that Chisnall and Anderson have met since 2014 and Chisnall has an excellent record having won 7 of their 8 encounters so far. Kyle Anderson’s sole win came in February of this year at a UK Open qualifier but since then Chisnall has won 3 in a row, the most recent of which was in July at a Players Championship tournament that Chisnall then went on to win.

Verdict

Two excellent 180 scorers clash in what should be another unmissable first round match. Kyle Anderson is a dangerous outsider in this game but the fact Chisnall has such a good record in their previous meetings can’t be ignored. Anderson has proven he can live with the best on the big stage and over this short format is definitely capable. Chisnall hasn’t often slipped up in the opening round of TV tournaments over the last couple of years though and I think his extra experience and past record against Anderson will see him through what is a very tough first round fixture.

 

suljovic-v-wattimena

Mensur Suljovic

  • Mensur Suljovic finished 2nd on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £60,500, as you would expect from that ranking he had some excellent results on the European Tour circuit in 2016, he won the International Darts Open in early September which was his first PDC ranking tournament success, he very nearly repeated the feat a week later at the European Darts Trophy but lost 6-5 in the final to Michael van Gerwen. Suljovic also registered 2 other semi-final appearances on the Euro Tour in 2016.
  • Suljovic is no stranger to the European Championship having made his tournament debut back in 2008 and he has only failed to qualify on one occasion since then.
  • He reached the Last 16 in 2008 and 2009 but since then he has failed to progress past the first round in his last 5 attempts. His only wins at the tournament came against Roland Scholten having met the Dutchman in the first round in both 2008 and 2009.
  • His first round defeat at the World Grand Prix was only the second time that he failed to win his opening match in his last nine PDC TV ranking tournaments.

Jermaine Wattimena

  • Jermaine Wattimena finished tied for 24th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £10,000, he qualified for 7 of the 10 events on the 2016 European Tour circuit but failed to make it to the Last 16 in any of the 7 tournaments.
  • Wattimena is making his European Championship debut; he has previously featured at the World Championship and UK Open but has yet to reach the Last 32 stage in either of those tournaments.
  • Last month he had his best run in a PDC ranking tournament when he reached the semi-finals of a Players Championship tournament before losing to James Wilson; on his way to the semi-finals he defeated Peter Wright and Jelle Klaasen.

Head to Head (Suljovic leads 2-0)

They have met two times previously over the last year with Suljovic taking the honours on each occasion. Their first meeting was last December at the World Championships where Suljovic won 3 sets to 1, most recently they faced each other on the European Tour in May at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy with Suljovic winning 6-2.

Verdict

Suljovic is one of the toughest competitors on the circuit and one of the most consistent players over the last couple of years, it is rare that he falls at the first hurdle and he never gives anyone an easy game, the fact he finished 2nd on the Euro Tour Order of Merit speaks for itself. Wattimena didn’t make an impact in any of the Euro Tour events this season and although he reached the semi-finals of a ranking tournament recently he hasn’t shown a lot this year to suggest he is capable of overturning Suljovic in this match.

 

wright-v-pipe

Peter Wright

  • Peter Wright finished 3rd on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £51,500, he reached the final at 3 tournaments on the European Tour circuit but came up just short against Michael van Gerwen in all 3 finals, the closest he came was at the European Darts Open when he lost in a last leg decider.
  • Wright is competing at the European Championships for the 5th time; he reached the semi-finals last year but was edged out by van Gerwen 11-7.
  • He has only failed to reach the quarter-finals on one occasion, which was in 2013 when he lost in the opening round to Colin Lloyd.
  • Wright has lost in the opening round only 2 times in his last 14 PDC TV major ranking tournaments, both defeats were at the World Grand Prix where earlier this month he lost in the first round to Brendan Dolan.

Pipe

  • Justin Pipe finished tied for 28th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £9,500, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were Last 16 appearances at the Dutch Darts Masters and the German Darts Championship, Pipe lost to Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall in those tournaments.
  • Pipe made his European Championship debut in 2011 and has been an ever present at the tournament since then. He has yet to get further than the Last 16, last year he was beaten by Adrian Lewis at that stage of the tournament.
  • He has only managed to get further than the Last 32 in 2 of his last 15 PDC TV major ranking tournaments and hasn’t appeared in a TV ranking quarter-final since December 2013.
  • He comes into this tournament in the best form he has shown for a couple of years having reached 3 quarter-finals and 1 semi-final in his last 8 ranking events.

Head to Head (Wright leads 6-5)

Peter Wright just has the edge on their head to head win record but Justin Pipe has won each of their last 2 matches, both of which were played in 2016, the most recent being only a matter of days ago when Pipe defeated Wright 6-5 in the quarter-finals of the Players Championship tournament last Saturday. Their only previous TV meeting saw Pipe win 10-7 at the Masters in 2014.

Verdict

If this match was played 6 months ago I would say that Peter Wright would have been the definite winner against an out of form Justin Pipe, but this is no longer the case as Pipe has been gradually winning more and more matches and is a big threat to the higher ranked player. As mentioned above Pipe has won each of their last 2 meetings during 2016 and he has a genuine chance of making it 3 in a row. I would still make Wright the favourite and think he is the more likely winner but no way can Pipe be written off.

 

norris-v-taylor

Alan Norris

  • Alan Norris finished 7th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £37,500, he won the German Darts Championship earlier this month defeating Jelle Klaasen in the final, that tournament was the only Euro Tour event in 2016 in which he managed to get past the Last 16.
  • Norris made his European Championship debut last year, he was beaten 6-3 by Peter Wright in the opening round on that occasion.
  • Since losing in the first round here last year only once has Norris failed to win his opening match in a PDC TV major ranking tournament, the defeat came against Gary Anderson at the World Matchplay.
  • His win at the German Darts Championship was his second ranking tournament victory since joining the PDC at the start of last year; he also reached the final of a UK Open qualifier earlier this year.

Phil Taylor

  • Phil Taylor finished 11th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £25,000, all of that prize money was gained in winning the Austrian Darts Open in June, that tournament was the only Euro Tour event he competed at during 2016, though he did lose in qualification for the European Matchplay.
  • Taylor has maintained his ever present record at the European Championship with qualification this year.
  • He won the tournament in each of the first four years it was held before his 22 match winning run at the tournament was halted in the quarter-finals in 2012 by Brendan Dolan and since then he has failed to get further than the quarter-final stage.
  • In each of the last 2 years he has exited the tournament in a last leg deciding match, losing 10-9 in 2014 to Stephen Bunting and 10-9 in 2015 to Adrian Lewis.

Head to Head (Taylor leads 2-0)

Phil Taylor and Alan Norris are meeting for the first time on the TV stage and this is also their first encounter since Taylor won 6-1 in a quarter-final clash at a UK Open qualifier in February 2015, Taylor went on to win that tournament.

Verdict

Alan Norris managed to secure a spot as the 7th seed at the tournament but must be ruing his luck in earning a first round draw against Phil Taylor. It’s been an excellent rise up the rankings for Norris since he joined the PDC, having won 2 ranking tournaments and he won’t fear the challenge ahead. Taylor isn’t finished in winning TV tournaments as he showed at the Champions League of Darts last month but over a short format of best of 11 legs he is more vulnerable and only early this month suffered an early exit at the World Grand Prix against Steve West. I expect a good effort from Norris but think Taylor will be determined to start well and will indeed do just that and take his place in the Last 16.

 

van-gerwen-v-whitlock

Michael van Gerwen

  • Michael van Gerwen qualified for the European Championship as the number one seed having topped the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £160,500 in prize money; van Gerwen won 6 of the 10 European Tour events during 2016.
  • Van Gerwen is on a 10 match winning streak at the European Championships having won the tournament in each of the last 2 years. In last year’s final he recovered from 10-7 down to defeat Gary Anderson 11-10. The last player to have beaten van Gerwen in this tournament was Adrian Lewis in the 2013 semi-finals.
  • Van Gerwen has lost in the first round of the European Championship in only 1 of his 7 previous appearances at the tournament (that defeat came against Ronnie Baxter in 2011).
  • The last time van Gerwen was beaten in the first round of a PDC TV major ranking tournament was back in December 2011 at the Players Championship Finals when he was defeated 6-0 by Gary Anderson.
  • Van Gerwen is aiming to win his 4th PDC TV major ranking tournament in a row having already captured the UK Open, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix titles during this season. In total he has won 8 of the last 10 PDC TV major ranking tournaments played.

Simon Whitlock

  • Simon Whitlock finished 16th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £18,500 in prize money, his best performances on the European Tour circuit in 2016 were quarter-final appearances at the Dutch Darts Masters and the International Darts Open.
  • Whitlock is one of only four men to have previously won the European Championship; he triumphed back in 2012 when he defeated Wes Newton in the final. He again made it to the final in 2013 but lost out to Adrian Lewis on that occasion.
  • He has lost in the first round of the European Championship in only 1 of his 6 previous appearances at the tournament; that sole defeat was in 2014 against Raymond van Barneveld.
  • Whitlock reached the quarter-finals at the World Grand Prix earlier this month, which was only his second appearance in a PDC TV major ranking quarter-final since July 2014 when he reached the semi-finals at the World Matchplay.
  • He has two ranking tournament wins to his name this season, both came at Players Championship tournaments played during October. On his way to winning the first tournament he defeated van Gerwen 6-3 in the last 16.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 21-5)

Michael van Gerwen has a big lead in their overall head to head record and has only lost 1 of their last 15 encounters going back to April 2013. Whitlock’s last win against van Gerwen was a recent one though having beaten van Gerwen in early October, van Gerwen has since avenged that result when he defeated Whitlock in the quarter-finals at the World Grand Prix on his way to winning the title.

Verdict

Michael van Gerwen has won this tournament in each of the last 2 years and on the whole has been sweeping up TV major ranking tournaments over the last couple of years but he faces very tough opposition against Simon Whitlock, himself a former winner of this event. Whitlock is a man very much in form having won two tournaments recently, the confidence and belief has really risen in Whitlock and having beaten van Gerwen recently he will genuinely believe he can win. MvG isn’t the best player in the world for nothing though and he is capable of ridiculously good darts and he starts as the favourite against any player in the world. My opinion is that the way Whitlock has been playing is that he can push van Gerwen all the way in this match, it would be an upset if van Gerwen lost but it wouldn’t be a massive shock due to the short format of the match and the fact Whitlock has been playing so well. A match really not to be missed!

 

wade-v-g-anderson

James Wade

  • James Wade finished 4th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £41,000 in prize money, he won the European Matchplay in May, notably beating Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen before defeating Dave Chisnall in a last leg decider in the final.
  • Wade has competed each year at the European Championship since the tournament started in 2008, his best run came in 2009 when he reached the semi-finals only to lose a last leg decider to Steve Beaton.
  • Wade has failed to get past the Last 16 at the European Championships since reaching the quarter-finals in 2011.
  • He failed to win his opening match at the UK Open, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix during 2016. It’s the first time he has lost his opening match in 3 consecutive PDC major ranking TV tournaments since 2012.

Gary Anderson

  • Gary Anderson finished 19th on the 2016 European Tour Order of Merit with £14,000 in prize money, Anderson only competed at 5 of the 10 events on the European Tour circuit in 2016, his best performances were quarter-final appearances at the German Darts Masters, the Gibraltar Darts Trophy and the European Darts Open
  • Anderson is competing at the European Championships for the 6th time, last year he had his best run in the tournament when he reached the final beating former champions Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis along the way before losing to 11-10 Michael van Gerwen despite having led 10-7.
  • Prior to last year Anderson had won only 3 matches at the European Championship, he won 4 in reaching the 2015 final.
  • Anderson has lost his opening match in only 2 of the last 23 PDC major ranking TV tournaments he has played in.

Head to Head (Anderson leads 28-13)

Gary Anderson has a very good record against James Wade over their previous head to head meetings and has only lost 2 of their last 16 encounters (though they did draw 3 times in the Premier League during this period). Wade recorded back to back wins over Anderson earlier this year but it was Anderson who claimed victory in their last meeting at the Champions League of Darts in September.

Verdict

James Wade vs Gary Anderson in the opening round is a brutally tough match for both players. James Wade in particular deserved better having finished 4th in the Euro Tour rankings. Although Anderson has a very good head to head record against Wade, I do think the fact Wade has won 2 of their recent matches does make the big lead Anderson has less relevant. This match could really go either way and it’s a match I am happy to sit on the fence on, I’ll just sit back and enjoy two top class players hopefully playing their best over the full 11 legs.

 

It’s all set for a good action packed day of darts, don’t forget to catch me on twitter @3dartanalyst as I will be tweeting out more stats and facts over the weekend.

Thanks for reading!

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