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Searle denies Smith in decider as Price, Van Gerwen and Wade kick-start European Championship campaigns

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Price and Van Gerwen set up Quarter-Final clash at the European Darts Championship

European Darts Championship 2021 Day Three preview and order of play | Second Round commences in Salzburg

Jamie Shaw in European Championship 16 Oct 2021
Van Gerwen and Wade go head-to-head (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The Second Round action takes centre stage at the 2021 European Darts Championship in Salzburg on Saturday with an unmissable double session.

A host of big names have already departed the competition, including defending champion Peter Wright, former champion Simon Whitlock, Krzysztof Ratajski and Michael Smith.

With the seedings based on prize money accrued from just two European Tour events this season, the draw has brought together a number of big hitters in the early stages.

Two former winners of this prestigious event go head-to-head in the evening session as Michael van Gerwen takes on James Wade.

Van Gerwen is bidding for a record fifth European Championship title and a first PDC ranking title of the year to follow up last month’s triumph at the Nordic Masters.

The world number three began with a 100.5 average in a 6-2 victory over Boris Krcmar on Friday and now faces ‘The Machine’ for the third time on television this year, with the pair having claimed one win apiece during the Premier League campaign.

Wade, the 2018 champion and runner-up 12 months ago, dug deep to deny former World Masters champion Adam Smith-Neale in a deciding leg in Round One and is looking to subject MVG to yet another early exit this season.

The evening session also sees world number one Gerwyn Price step up his pursuit of a maiden European Championship crown with a tie against Czech youngster Adam Gawlas.

Price, runner-up in last week’s World Grand Prix, recorded the highest average of the opening round (104.53) in cruising past Ritchie Edhouse 6-2.

Gawlas, meanwhile, marked his debut with a 6-4 win over Joe Murnan to reach the Last 16 of a PDC televised ranking tournament for the first time.

Former UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall aims to progress beyond the Second Round stage of this event for the first time in four attempts when he faces Aussie ace Damon Heta.

Aspinall landed five 180s in his 6-4 victory over Mervyn King on Friday, while Heta claimed a much-needed win over Gabriel Clemens to provisionally move into the world’s top 32.

Home favourite Mensur Suljovic aims to delight an expectant crowd at the Salzburgarena by overcoming German newcomer Florian Hempel.

Suljovic, runner-up in the recent World Cup of Darts and Gibraltar Trophy, swept aside Adam Hunt in Round One, while former Handball professional Hempel is bidding to follow up his shock scalp of Peter Wright in what is his first televised tournament appearance.

The afternoon session features a tasty tussle between Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa and UK Open finalist Luke Humphries.

De Sousa, who has revealed health problems of late, has been struggling to recapture the form which led him to the Premier League final in May, but remains a formidable force in the scoring department.

Humphries continues to go from strength-to-strength in a ground-breaking season which has seen him provisionally climb to world number 21, with the power to add this weekend.

Two in-form players who enjoyed landmark campaigns at the recent World Grand Prix collide as Danny Noppert meets Ryan Searle.

Noppert embarked on a terrific run to his first PDC major ranking Semi-Final in Leicester, losing out to eventual champion Jonny Clayton, and began superbly here by thrashing Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 with a 102.3 average.

Searle reached his first PDC major Quarter-Final at the Grand Prix and was also in sublime form in Salzburg, edging out Michael Smith 6-5 with a 102 average.

Rob Cross is facing a potentially pivotal weekend in terms of his ranking position, and the 2019 European Champion now comes up against Brendan Dolan in a must-win encounter.

Cross, who is defending £100,000 on the Order of Merit, could drop 12 places to 24th if he suffers defeat to Dolan – who would leapfrog him as a result.

Third seed Dolan began brightly by defeating Kim Huybrechts 6-2 with a 96 average and has beaten Cross in two of their three meetings on the ProTour this year.

The opening game of the day sees multiple Euro Tour event winner Joe Cullen take on emerging star William Borland.

Cullen, the number ten seed, bounced back from his First Round exit at the Grand Prix by whitewashing Ted Evetts 6-0 in ruthless fashion on Thursday.

Borland, meanwhile, pulled off a memorable debut win over 2012 champion Simon Whitlock, sealing the deal with a 142 checkout and looking at home on the big stage.

The action gets under way from 1pm BST, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.

WATCH THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

European Darts Championship 2021 Day Three Schedule

All times BST (local time one hour ahead)

Saturday October 16

Second Round

Afternoon Session (12.45pm-4pm)
William Borland v Joe Cullen
Brendan Dolan v Rob Cross
Jose de Sousa v Luke Humphries
Ryan Searle v Danny Noppert

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Nathan Aspinall v Damon Heta
Gerwyn Price v Adam Gawlas
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Mensur Suljovic v Florian Hempel

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