Englishmen favourites for Euros
Passports and travellers cheques are being dug out and dusted off across the country as the PDC returns to the continent for the second European Tour Event of the season (and ever): the German Darts Championship.
After the great success of the inaugural Austrian Darts Open in April which saw two 9-darters thrown, big things are expected in Berlin, and with £15,000 again available for the winner all 64 men will be giving it their all.
It was Justin Pipe who cashed in on the generous prize fund in Austria and it was that bulky cheque that saw him soar into the top 16 in the world for the first time, so the rewards of success abroad are there for all to see.
There are vultures circling the top 16 as there always are, and whilst the likes of Merv King and the in-form Ronnie Baxter have it within their grasp to make a return to the elite group, it might just be time for Dave Chisnall to repeat the heroics of Pipe and burst into the upper-echelons of the rankings for the first time.
The former BDO world finalist has impressed the entire darting community since his switch over last year; he’s won four Pro Tour events and achieved his best performance in a major earlier this month reaching the semis of the UK Open. The bookies are so impressed he is as low as 12/1 to win the next PDC World Championships, Bet Victor placing him joint fourth-favourite which is a good gauge to how highly he is rated.
Whilst Chizzy has scored a favourable draw in round one with Gareth Cousins, Pipe has been handed a very tough test in Michael van Gerwen. Mighty Mike picked up the £6,000 winners cheque in Sunday’s Players Championship in Birmingham, beating a host of big names on the way, including Pipe; the Force’s European success story could well be cut very short this time around.
Other first round matches to catch the eye are Mark Walsh taking on Dean Winstanley in a repeat of their cracking contest at the Grand Slam last year, and Steve Beaton facing Kim Huybrechts, going on their UK Open form there is only one winner in that one.
The battle of the Websters is also an intriguing clash with the former World Champion Mark really struggling of late and the resurgent Darren impressing on the Pro Tour, there could just be an upset on the cards.
With many a big name disappointed following the UK Open and with the Matchplay just around the corner I expect the heavy hitters to turn up for this one. Chisnall has a very good chance, but it could well be a Taylor or a Lewis who walk away with this one.
Judging by the outrageously high standard of the last tournament on the continent, and with match practice before the Blackpool vital, expect quality and tension throughout and the Tempodrom.