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Nine-dart De Sousa enjoys dream European Championship debut as Kleermaker knocks out Cross

European Darts Championship 2020 Day One preview and order of play: Big names aim to avoid early Oberhausen exit

Jamie Shaw in European Championship 29 Oct 2020
World Champion Peter Wright returns to action (Photo by PDC Europe)

The 2020 European Darts Championship gets underway on Thursday as the star names aim to avert an early exit in Oberhausen.

A blockbuster opening session of the £500,000 major will feature all 16 First Round ties played consecutively as the darting drama comes thick and fast.

The 32-player field is comprised solely from the European Tour Order of Merit, which culminated following only the fourth Euro Tour event of a condensed campaign last Sunday.

Consequently, a host of players are making their debut appearance in the prestigious competition and will look to make an instant impact in front of the reduced capacity crowd.

One of the stand-out First Round ties sees reigning World Champion Peter Wright take on new German one Gabriel Clemens.

Wright has not featured since his shock First Round exit to Ryan Joyce in the World Grand Prix earlier this month, opting out of the two European Tour events due to travel concerns.

The world number three will look to return to winning ways immediately, but will be poised for a tough test from the former German Masters finalist – who recently leapfrogged Max Hopp into the top 32 for the first time.

Reigning champion Rob Cross launches his title defence against Dutch debutant Martijn Kleermaker, with ‘Voltage’ looking to follow up his run to the final of last month’s World Series Finals.

Kleermaker was beaten 6-1 by Cross in the recent European Grand Prix and will look to obtain revenge in style by dethroning the defending champion.

Rob Cross is the reigning champion (Photo by PDC Europe)

Michael van Gerwen begins his bid for a record fifth European Championship crown with a clash against Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas.

Van Gerwen won this title in consecutive years from 2014 to 2017, equalling Phil Taylor’s record, and has finished runner-up in the last two European Tour events.

The world number one is targeting a first televised title since the UK Open back in March and defeated Labanauskas by five sets to two in their only previous meeting which came in the Quarter-Finals of the 2019/20 World Championship.

Gerwyn Price kicks off his pursuit of a third televised title of 2020 with a clash against Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts, with ‘The Ice Man’ having prevailed 3-0 in sets when the pair met in the Second Round of the World Grand Prix.

Premier League finalist Nathan Aspinall aims to overcome dangerous Dutch debutant Maik Kuivenhoven – who reached the Quarter-Finals of the European Grand Prix a fortnight ago.

World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode marks his return to action with an all-Dutch encounter against former Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert.

Joe Cullen, whose International Open triumph last weekend secured him top seed status, takes on Ireland’s William O’Connor – who replaced Glen Durrant in the field after finishing 33rd on the European Order of Merit.

European Grand Prix champion Jose de Sousa, the number three seed, opens up against world number 23 Jeffrey de Zwaan, while former World Masters champion Krzysztof Ratajski takes on Steve West.

James Wade, the 2018 European Champion, starts out against Irish ace Steve Lennon, while 2016 runner-up Mensur Suljovic takes on two-time major winner Daryl Gurney.

Two renowned power-scorers go head-to-head in the opening match of the tournament as multiple major finalist Dave Chisnall faces Czech Open winner Jamie Hughes.

Mervyn King, semi-finalist in 2014, faces a tough opener against fellow stalwart Ian White, as world number four Michael Smith faces in-form Ross Smith – a quarter-finalist in Riesa last weekend.

Andy Hamilton marks his first European Championship appearance for six years with a show-down against German Championship winner Devon Petersen – the number four seed.

Max Hopp, who enjoyed a superb run to the Semi-Finals two years ago, takes on Welsh ace Jonny Clayton – a three-time PDC ranking event winner.

The action gets underway from 3pm BST, with First Round ties to be contested over the best of 11 legs.

WATCH THE EUROPEAN DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

European Darts Championship 2020 Schedule

All times GMT (local time one hour ahead)

Thursday October 29

First Round

3pm-11pm
Jamie Hughes v Dave Chisnall
Krzysztof Ratajski v Steve West
Mervyn King v Ian White
Jose de Sousa v Jeffrey de Zwaan
James Wade v Steve Lennon
Devon Petersen v Andy Hamilton
Michael Smith v Ross Smith
Danny Noppert v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Nathan Aspinall v Maik Kuivenhoven
Joe Cullen v William O’Connor
Rob Cross v Martijn Kleermaker
Jonny Clayton v Max Hopp
Michael van Gerwen v Darius Labanauskas
Gerwyn Price v Kim Huybrechts
Peter Wright v Gabriel Clemens
Mensur Suljovic v Daryl Gurney