Michael Smith aims to turn his Euro Tour fortunes around (credit:Chris Dean/PDC)
European Tour action continues thick and fast as the 2019 European Darts Matchplay gets underway in Mannheim on Friday, with 32 qualifiers set to battle it out.
The eleventh of 13 live-streamed Euro Tour events this season will feature a 48-player field competing for the £25,000 title at the Maimarkthalle in Mannheim, Germany.
With just three Euro Tour events remaining before the cut-off for next month’s European Championship, a number of players are in need of a strong run in the coming weekends in order to bolster their chances of qualification.
Among the notable names currently below the cut-off point is world finalist Michael Smith – whose below-par performances in Europe this season mean he is unseeded this weekend.
Smith has been handed a tricky opener against World Cup of Darts finalist Steve Lennon – who claimed a 4-3 victory over ‘Bully Boy’ in the singles tie of Ireland’s Last 16 scalp of England en route to the final.
Elsewhere, a repeat of the 2015 European Darts Open final sees Robert Thornton and Kim Huybrechts collide in Round One at the Maimarkthalle.
Thornton triumphed on that occasion in Dusseldorf and has won seven of their nine previous meetings, though he has recently dropped out of the world’s top 50 after failing to reach a number of TV majors.
German Masters finalist Gabriel Clemens, arguably Germany’s most in-form darting talent, takes on fellow countryman Steffen Siepmann, while former World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan faces former World Championship semi-finalist Wayne Jones.
German number one Max Hopp and Irish ace William O’Connor face off for the first time since last October’s fiery European Championship encounter as ‘The Magpie’ bids for revenge in a tournament he finished runner-up in last time out.
New Zealand number one Cody Harris, who came through Thursday’s West/South European Qualifier, takes on Ross Smith – who is looking to bounce back from last week’s shock defeat to 17-year-old Czech star Adam Gawlas.
Former Grand Prix semi-finalist John Henderson has been handed a tough opener against World Championship quarter-finalist Ryan Joyce, as former Lakeside finalist Mark McGeeney looks to avoid a potential scalp against 19-year-old raw talent Bradley Brooks.
Former European Champion Simon Whitlock starts out against his stablemate and former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown in one of the stand-out ties, while Czech Open champion Jamie Hughes opens up against Dutch qualifier Wesley Plaisier.
Scott Taylor, who averaged 104 during last week’s BDO World Trophy, makes a swift return to PDC action to face ‘Prime Time’ Matthew Edgar, while Sweden’s Dennis Nilsson meets 22-year-old host nation debutant Marvin Wehder.
Ipswich left-hander Ryan Meikle, a winner of two Development Tour titles this year, takes on former Challenge Tour event winner Brett Claydon.
Lively Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode makes only his second Euro Tour appearance of the campaign when he comes up against Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk.
UK Open quarter-finalist Simon Stevenson faces host nation hopeful Florian Hempel, as Dutch qualifier Maik Kuivenhoven meets German qualifier Karsten Koch – making his second Euro Tour appearance of the year.
The action gets underway from midday, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.
European Darts Matchplay 2019 Schedule
All times BST (local time one hour ahead)
Friday September 6
Afternoon Session (12pm-4pm)
Scott Taylor v Matthew Edgar
Bradley Brooks v Mark McGeeney
Ryan Meikle v Brett Claydon
Dennis Nilsson v Marvin Wehder
Cody Harris v Ross Smith
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Krzysztof Kciuk
John Henderson v Ryan Joyce
Gabriel Clemens v Steffen Siepmann
Evening Session (6.15pm-10.15pm)
Florian Hempel v Simon Stevenson
Jamie Hughes v Wesley Plaisier
Keegan Brown v Simon Whitlock
Maik Kuivenhoven v Karsten Koch
Robert Thornton v Kim Huybrechts
Michael Smith v Steve Lennon
Max Hopp v William O’Connor
Jeffrey de Zwaan v Wayne Jones