2016 European Championship – Day Two Preview

Day two at the 2016 Unibet European Championship sees the tournament reach the Last 16 stage with four matches being played in the afternoon and four matches in the evening.

I’ve previewed all eight matches to help guide you through the action.

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

k-anderson-v-richardson

Kyle Anderson

  • Anderson defeated number 6 seed Dave Chisnall in round one. It was a very slow start from Anderson in the first 3 and a bit legs but a 102 checkout sparked him into life and consecutive legs won in 11 and 12 darts gave him control which he never relinquished. It has to be said that Chisnall wasn’t at his best but Anderson took advantage and was a deserved winner.
  • He has now made it through to the Last 16 in each of the 4 major TV ranking tournaments played this season (UK Open, Matchplay, Grand Prix and European Championship).

James Richardson

  • Richardson came through a scrappy encounter with Jamie Caven in the opening round. The highlight for Richardson was a 158 checkout in the 5th leg of the match but his overall average was just under 81 with his opponent averaging under 78.
  • This is the furthest he has ever progressed in a PDC TV ranking tournament.

Head to Head

This is their first meeting.

Verdict

Kyle Anderson is the obvious favourite here, he has been proving his quality over the last couple of years and has some good experience on the TV stage, Richardson is better than he showed in the opening round and it can’t be forgotten that he has a big win against van Barneveld at the World Championships on his record. I expect Anderson to improve on his performance against Chisnall and to have too much for Richardson over the first to 10 legs. I’ll go for Kyle Anderson to win 10-5.

 

suljovic-v-white

Mensur Suljovic

  • Suljovic was very impressive in his 6-1 win over Wattimena in round one, he took control of the match from the off and was excellent in every aspect of the game, his average was over 104 and he hit 75% of his double attempts which highlights how good he was.
  • This is the 12th time Suljovic has appeared in the Last 16 of a PDC major ranking TV tournament and the 8th time since the start of 2015.
  • He has never made it further than this stage of the European Championship previously.

Ian White

  • White came through easier than expected against Terry Jenkins in round one with a 6-2 victory. Back to back 12 darts legs in the middle of the match effectively won the game for White, his average was lowered by a 25 dart leg when he needed 8 darts to hit the leg winning double so his overall performance is better than his stats suggest.
  • White has also yet to progress further than the Last 16 in this tournament previously.

Head to Head (3 wins each)

There is nothing to split them on their previous meetings though Suljovic did win the last time they met (at a Euro Tour event in September) and has won their only previous encounter on TV which came at last year’s Players Championship finals where Suljovic won 10-6 in the quarter-finals.

Verdict

A tough match with two very capable players, but I think what gives Suljovic the edge though is his consistency, White can win back to back 12 dart legs as he showed in round one but he can sometimes go missing in a match and have spells of inconsistency. The all round game of Suljovic has been excellent over the last couple of years and his confidence is sky high. I’m tipping Suljovic to win 10-7.

 

wright-v-reyes

Peter Wright

  • Wright came through a very tight match against Justin Pipe in round one just edging it 6-5 courtesy of a 98 checkout in the final leg. Wright had led 4-1 and then trailed 5-4 with Pipe missing match darts to win 6-4. It wasn’t a pretty win but Wright showed lots of bottle to go through.
  • This is the 4th time Wright has made it through to the Last 16 at this tournament and he has won all 3 previous times with wins against Gary Anderson and Kim Huybrechts (twice).

Cristo Reyes

  • Reyes impressed in his 6-4 win over Robert Thornton in the opening round. He averaged just under 97 and hit 50% of his doubles against an opponent who hit 5x 180’s.
  • This is the 2nd year in succession that Reyes has made it through to the Last 16 at the European Championship, last year he was beaten by the eventual champion Michael van Gerwen at this stage of the tournament.

Head to Head (Wright leads 3-0)

Wright has a 100% record in their previous meetings, they have met twice in 2016 (both matches were in March). The matches between them have been close with two finishing 6-4 and the most recent finishing 6-5.

Verdict

Peter Wright has the proven pedigree in progressing to the later stages of TV tournaments but he faces a tricky tie against the very capable Reyes who has the game to make life very difficult for his higher ranked opponent. Wright will certainly have to improve on his first round performance if he is to progress and I expect him to. There is no doubt Reyes has a chance but I am going for Wright to edge it 10-7.

 

wilson-v-king

James Wilson

  • Wilson knocked out home favourite Kim Huybrechts in round one, winning 6-3 with a very composed, controlled and consistent performance. Wilson was averaging around a 100 for most of the match and hit over 54% of his double attempts.
  • He has now reached the Last 16 in back to back TV tournament having made it to this stage at the World Grand Prix earlier this month, on that occasion he was halted by van Gerwen.
  • Wilson does have the calibre of going deep in TV tournaments during his time in the BDO having won the World Trophy and also having reached the final of the World Masters.

Mervyn King

  • King grinded his way to a 6-4 win over Devon Petersen in round one, it wasn’t a pretty match with both players struggling to find form, but King took 4 of the final 5 legs including hitting a 100 checkout to see out the match to earn his place in round two. A positive for King was his 50% success on double attempts.
  • This is the 6th time King has reached the Last 16 at the European Championship; his previous defeats at this stage of the tournament came against Phil Taylor (twice) and Michael van Gerwen.

Head to Head (Wilson leads 2-0)

They have only met twice previously with Wilson coming out on top on both occasions, both encounters came during 2016. This is their first meeting on the TV stage.

Verdict

James Wilson certainly entered this tournament in the better form and showed more in the first round that he rightfully starts the match as the favourite, he is playing some very good darts at the moment and if he keeps on playing to the same level it will take a good performance to stop him. King has quality but hasn’t been showing enough of it on a consistent basis; he can’t be written off though as proved at the Matchplay when he pushed Taylor all the way. I think Wilson will prove a tough nut to crack for King and will go through to the quarter-finals with a 10-7 win.

 

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

klaasen-v-bunting

Jelle Klaasen

  • Klaasen won 6-3 against Steve West to reach round two, he played some scintillating darts in going 5-0 up (he was averaging 113 after 4 legs). The break seemed to have affected his rhythm though as West clawed 3 legs back and although Klaasen got the leg he needed to win the match he never quite rediscovered his form from the opening phase of the match.
  • He has a good record in the Last 16 of this tournament having won through and reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 3 years.

Stephen Bunting

  • Bunting had to survive a match dart before coming through a very tight match against Michael Smith in round one. Overall there was plenty to like about Bunting’s performance, he averaged over 100 all through the match with his end average just dropping to 99.55, his scoring was excellent with his first 9 dart average being a very healthy 114.
  • He has now reached the Last 16 in all 3 years he has competed at this tournament and famously beat Taylor 10-9 in 2014 in this round. He is aiming to reach his first TV ranking quarter-final since March 2015 at the UK Open though.

Head to Head (1 win each)

Surprisingly this is only the 3rd meeting between the two players, it’s the first time they have met on TV and they have never met in a Euro Tour event previously either. The last time they played was back in 2015 when Klaasen won 6-3; Bunting’s win was a 6-5 in a 2014 UK Open qualifier in the very first weekend he played on the tour having switched from the BDO.

Verdict

This has all the makings of a very entertaining top quality darts match, the pace of the match should be conducive in bringing out the best in each other and it’s a game I am really looking forward to. They both played well in round one and hopefully they will carry that form on. I make Klaasen a small favourite but I don’t think there will be much in it, my prediction is a 10-9 thriller just going the way of the Dutchman.

 

taylor-v-cullen

Phil Taylor

  • Taylor averaged over 109 in his 6-3 win against Alan Norris in round one, the scoring power of Taylor was relentless, he averaged over 123 for his first 9 darts and hit a very impressive 16 scores between 140 and 180.
  • Taylor is a 4 time winner of this tournament but has failed to get past the Last 16 in 2 of the last 3 years (though he did win at this stage of the tournament last year against Michael Smith).

Joe Cullen

  • Cullen produced a very solid performance in his 6-2 win over Chris Dobey in round one. It has to be said his opponent was below par and had to play with a set of borrowed darts but take nothing away from Cullen who averaged above 95 and hit over 42% of his double attempts.
  • This is only Cullen’s 3rd appearance in the Last 16 of a TV tournament; both previous occasions were at the UK Open (he reached the quarter-finals at the UK Open earlier this year).

Head to Head (Taylor leads 4-1)

This is the first time they have met since 2014 and only the second time they have met since 2011. Taylor has won their last 3 encounters with Cullen’s sole victory coming way back in 2010.

Verdict

Taylor looked in ominously good form in round one, his focus was spot on and his game looked in excellent shape, Cullen has it all to do to try and stop him and I feel will have to give his best ever TV performance just to keep with Taylor. Cullen is playing well this year but it is a huge task in front of him to overturn Taylor in the mood he was in during round one. I think Taylor will win 10-4.

 

wade-v-hopp

James Wade

  • Wade had a surprisingly very comfortable 6-0 win over Gary Anderson in the final game of round one with Anderson averaging only 77. Wade himself played a solid game of darts with his finishing being a very efficient 75% which included two ton plus checkouts.
  • In his 8 previous years at this tournament he has only gone further than the Last 16 on 2 occasions and is looking to do so for the first time since 2011.

Max Hopp

  • Hopp edged past Benito van de Pas in round one with a 6-4 win, van de Pas missed a number of doubles which could have made the outcome a lot different, Hopp only averaged 85.8 at the end of the match.
  • Prior to yesterday Hopp had failed to win a match in his 2 previous years in competing at this tournament, he is through to the Last 16 in a TV ranking tournament for the first time.

Head to Head (Wade leads 1-0)

Their one and only meeting came back in 2014 at a Players Championship tournament when Wade won 6-0.

Verdict

Wade cruised through round one against an out of sorts Gary Anderson though credit to Wade the level of Anderson didn’t drag Wade down he kept his focus and looked in good shape especially in his finishing of legs. Hopp will have to bring a big improvement to his game to challenge Wade and I don’t think he has the level of consistency to seriously trouble his higher ranked opponent. I think Wade will win this match 10-5.

 

van-gerwen-v-price

Michael van Gerwen

  • Defending champion van Gerwen had to come from 5-3 behind to defeat Whitlock in round one. It was a very patchy performance from van Gerwen as he scored very well but his finishing left a lot to be desired (he hit just 2 of his first 17 attempts).
  • He is on an 11 match winning run at the European Championship and hasn’t failed to get past this round since losing 10-9 to van Barneveld in 2012.

Gerwyn Price

  • Price came through 6-4 against Daryl Gurney in round one, neither player really hit the heights they are capable of but Price had the edge with his clinical finishing, he had a success rate of over 54% on his doubles whilst Gurney only hit 25% of his attempts.
  • This is his 4th time in the Last 16 of a major TV ranking tournament; he made it through to the quarter-finals at the Matchplay in 2015 but has failed to get further than the Last 16 since then.

Head to Head (van Gerwen leads 4-0)

Michael van Gerwen has won all 4 of their previous encounters, their most recent of which was at a Euro Tour event in September. All of their previous matches have been over the best of 11 format and this is the first time they have met in a big TV ranking tournament.

Verdict

Michael van Gerwen had a very tough test in round one and he will really have to sharpen up on his doubling if he is to win this tournament for the 3rd year in a row, the positive for MvG is that he won despite missing so many doubles and his scoring will always give him chances. Price will also have to improve from his match against Gurney, he hasn’t managed to get the better of van Gerwen in their 4 previous meetings over a shorter format and I think the longer format gives him less chance of getting a first win over MvG. I’m going for a 10-6 victory for van Gerwen.

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