Round Two draws to a close at the 2019 European Championship in Gottingen on Saturday as a host of in-form…
Aspinall aims to make it three wins from three against Price in TV majors (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Round Two draws to a close at the 2019 European Championship in Gottingen on Saturday as a host of in-form stars battle to reach the business end of the competition.
Five of the top eight seeds have already departed the Lokhalle, including four-time champion Michael van Gerwen, 2016 finalist Mensur Suljovic and Champions League runner-up Peter Wright.
Both halves of the draw have subsequently been blown wide open, creating a golden opportunity for a potential first-time major winner, though a number of the usual suspects remain in the running.
A repeat of March’s UK Open Semi-Final sees top 16 stars Gerwyn Price and Nathan Aspinall go head-to-head.
Having come from two sets down to stun price at the World Championship three months earlier, Aspinall again got the better of the Welshman in Minehead en route to a fairy-tale first major title that evening.
The Stockport star has since established himself among the sport’s elite, winning the US Masters on his World Series debut, and began brightly this weekend with a 170 checkout and a 98 average in seeing off Steve Beaton 6-3 in Round One.
Price, the reigning Grand Slam champion, has reached three televised Semi-Finals this season, including last week’s Champions League of Darts, and averaged 100 in dispatching debutant Ted Evetts 6-4 in his opener on Friday.
The world number five has won seven of his ten previous meetings with ‘The Asp’, but has crucially lost both of their televised encounters to date.
Meanwhile, all-St Helens show-down sees World Championship and World Matchplay finalist Michael Smith take on 2014 Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting.
Smith has reached at least the Semi-Final stage of five of his nine televised tournament campaigns this year but continues to chase down that elusive maiden major.
The world number four, who occupied the penultimate qualifying spot for this event following a below-par season on the European Tour, averaged 106 in a 6-1 rout of Ian White in Round One and will be keen to pick up from where he left off.
Bunting defied a bout of illness to thrash Keegan Brown by the same scoreline on Friday and is looking to maintain his dominant record over ‘Bully Boy’, having won their last seven meetings in all competitions.
Victory here would see Bunting equal his best ever run in this event, having reached the Last Eight on his debut five years ago with a famous win over Phil Taylor along the way.
The opening match of the evening sees World Grand Prix semi-finalist Chris Dobey take on a resurgent Vincent van der Voort.
Still riding high from that landmark run in Dublin a fortnight ago, Dobey appears to be finally producing his brilliant best form on the big stage and will be determined to go a step further this weekend.
The Tynesider shrugged off a tough First Round tie against Krzysztof Ratajski but will be wary of a potential revenge mission from the Dutchman after winning a seven set epic in the Last 32 of the World Championship last December.
Van der Voort is appearing at this stage of the European Championship for the first time since 2014 and has gone exactly four years without reaching a major ranking Quarter-Final.
The 2007 UK Open finalist pulled off a 6-1 demolition of Mensur Suljovic in Round One and will fancy his chances of extending his run in a section of the draw that also houses two other Dutchmen.
World number 19 and 25 collide as Jermaine Wattimena takes on Jeffrey De Zwaan in what promises to be a quick-fire epic.
The duo are both enjoying career-high ranking positions as they vie for the Dutch number two spot, face off for the second time in a TV major this season, with Wattimena having romped to a 10-2 rout in the UK Open.
Wattimena, who has won six of their eight previous meetings, reached his first major Quarter-Final at the recent World Grand Prix and was ruthless in thrashing an out of sorts Jamie Hughes 6-1 in Round One on Friday.
De Zwaan, whose only previous appearance in this event came four years ago, pulled off an impressive 6-4 scalp of Peter Wright with a 101.8 average and is now out to reach his first televised Quarter-Final since last year’s World Matchplay.
The action gets underway from 6pm BST, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.
European Darts Championship 2019 Match Schedule
All times BST (Local time one hour ahead)
Saturday October 26
6.15pm Vincent van der Voort v Chris Dobey
7.15pm Michael Smith v Stephen Bunting
8.15pm Gerwyn Price v Nathan Aspinall
9.15pm Jeffrey De Zwaan v Jermaine Wattimena