White and Smith face off for the second successive ranked TV major (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
The First Round action continues at the 2019 European Championship on Friday afternoon as a number of top-ranked stars aim to avoid an early exit in Gottingen.
The top half of the draw is now wide open following the shock departure of top seed Michael van Gerwen at the hands of Ross Smith on opening night, while defending champion James Wade and Glen Durrant were also sent packing.
Matches from the bottom half of the draw take centre stage in Friday’s afternoon session before the first four Last 16 ties take place in the evening session at the Lokhalle.
Peter Wright looks to put last weekend’s Champions League of Darts disappointment behind him by overcoming former World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Wright was left to rue yet more missed match darts in a televised final against MVG as he watched the title slip through his grasp, but will be determined to go all the way in the Dutchman’s absence this weekend.
De Zwaan is making only his second appearance in this prestigious major and a first since 2015 as he aims to catch ‘Snakebite’ cold over the short format.
Perhaps the stand-out tie of the entire First Round sees top 16 stars Michael Smith and Ian White put their friendship to one side once again as they collide on the big stage.
This will be their third meeting in televised competition this year, with Smith having prevailed in January’s Masters before White claimed victory in the recent World Grand Prix and is seeded number two this week as a result of picking up two European Tour titles this season.
Czech Open champion Jamie Hughes marks his Unibet
European Championship debut with a tricky clash against in-form Jermaine Wattimena – who is knocking on the door of the world’s top 16 after reaching his first major Quarter-Final at the World Grand Prix.
A distinct clash of styles sees the methodical Mensur Suljovic take on quick-fire Dutchman Vincent van der Voort in a battle of two crowd favourites.
Suljovic has won ten of their 12 previous meetings and reached his first major ranking final in this event three years ago, while Van der Voort has never been beyond the Second Round stage.
Two in-form talents collide as multiple ranking title winner Krzysztof Ratajski takes on World Grand Prix semi-finalist Chris Dobey.
Ratajski, making his second appearance in this event, claimed the recent Gibraltar Trophy title, while Dobey enjoyed his best-ever run in a TV major in Dublin and will look to utilise that confidence boost.
Former Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting, who defeated Phil Taylor 10-9 en route to the Quarter-Finals on his European Championship debut in 2014, takes on former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown – who is making his debut in this event after a fine season on the Euro Tour.
UK Open Champion Nathan Aspinall aims to continue his superb form in TV majors this season when he faces darting stalwart Steve Beaton – runner-up in this event a decade ago.
Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price, winner of back-to-back International Open titles, starts out against emerging star Ted Evetts – a two-time Challenge Tour event winner last season who has stepped up to the professional circuit with great effect this year.
The action gets underway from 12pm BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.
European Darts Championship 2019 Match Schedule
All times BST (Local time one hour ahead)
Friday October 25
12.00pm Jamie Hughes v Jermaine Wattimena
12.30pm Keegan Brown v Stephen Bunting
1.00pm Krzysztof Ratajski v Chris Dobey
1.30pm Nathan Aspinall v Steve Beaton
2.00pm Mensur Suljovic v Vincent van der Voort
2.30pm Ian White v Michael Smith
3.00pm Peter Wright v Jeffrey de Zwaan
3.30pm Gerwyn Price v Ted Evetts