The 2020 Unibet European Championship commences tomorrow at the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany.
It will be the thirteenth edition of the tournament and the first one to be held at this venue. It was originally going to take place at the Westfalenhallen in Dortmund, but it was moved to Oberhausen at the beginning of October.
The tournament features the top 32 players on the Euro Tour Order of Merit. This year’s Euro Tour was originally scheduled to have 13 events, but it was reduced to 4 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But still we had some thrilling drama on the Euro Tour this year with upsets, high averages and also brand new winners.
The draw for the 2020 tournament was confirmed after the final Euro Tour event on Sunday. Just like the previous editions, players were drawn in a fixed bracket in seeded order. For example the number 1 seed will face the 32nd seed, the 2nd seed will face the 31st seed, the 3rd faces the 30th and so on and so forth.
The opening day of this year’s tournament will be a bumper day of action as all 16 first round matches will be played in one long session! For many darts fans including myself, this will be something very special.
So without further ado, here is the draw for the 2020 European Championship.
2018 World Champion Rob Cross comes into this tournament as the defending champion. The 30 year old defeated the likes of Darren Webster, Joe Cullen, Ricky Evans, Daryl Gurney and Gerwyn Price to claim the title last year in Gottingen! However his poor run of form this year has shown on the Euro Tour as he has only reached just one quarter final appearance, which was at the European Darts Grand Prix. However despite his poor form, he will give it every ounce of strength in his attempt to defend the title. He takes on the fast throwing Dutchman Martijn Kleermaker in the first match of his title defence. It’s no easy starter for Cross since Kleermaker has produced some cracking performances and has defeated some big names on his debut year on the Pro Tour.
South Africa’s Devon Petersen has been in the form of his life. After the disappointment in PC17 after missing championship darts and throwing away a 7-4 lead to lose to Gerwyn Price in the final, his heartbreak turned into joy 12 days later as he secured his first PDC ranking title in winning the 2020 German Darts Championship. Petersen defeated the likes of Gerwyn Price himself (from 5-1 behind), Rob Cross, Krzysztof Ratajski, Danny Noppert and Jonny Clayton in that memorable triumph near the end of September. Coming into this event as the fourth seed, you can possibly say that he is one of the favourites for the title! Petersen will take on 53 year old Andy Hamilton in his first round match, a runner up in the 2007 Grand Slam of Darts and in the 2012 PDC World Championship.
Only two players have come into this tournament as the number one seed (Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen). However this year Bradford’s Joe Cullen became the third after winning his second Euro Tour title on Sunday. In his International Darts Open triumph, Cullen defeated the likes of Robert Marijanovic, Dave Chisnall, Ross Smith, Michael Smith and in the final Michael van Gerwen in another memorable weekend of his career. Cullen has struggled to reproduce that kind of form on TV, but could this weekend be the moment that it all changes? He did reach the semis back in 2018, so it is the right tournament to do it at! Cullen will face Ireland’s William O’Connor in his first round match. O’Connor was ranked outside the top 32 in 33rd place, but gained a spot due to the original 23rd seed Glen Durrant pulling out after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.
Tipton’s Jamie Hughes won his only PDC title on the Euro Tour last year, but this year’s Euro Tour has been a very disappointing one for him as he had reached just the third round in three of the four events that he’s played in. He even crumbled from 5-0 up to lose 6-5 to Mensur Suljovic in the European Darts Grand Prix this year. With just one quarter final (UK Open) appearance this year on TV, Hughes come into this event on the back of average form. He will face Dave Chisnall in his first round match. Chisnall (who is still licking his wounds after his World Grand Prix semi final heartbreak) will be looking to finally end the wait of his first major title!
Reigning PDC Home Tour champion Nathan Aspinall has been continuing where he left off since his semi appearance at the Alexandra Palace two years ago! The Asp reached the quarter finals in two of the four events this year and he will be aiming to put another major title under his belt at Oberhausen this weekend. Aspinall faces 32 year old Dutchman Maik Kuivenhoven in his first round match. Kuivenhoven reached the quarter finals of the European Darts Grand Prix this year, defeating big names in Daryl Gurney and Glen Durrant en route! So Aspinall will know that this is not an easy walk in the park for him!
2018 European champion James Wade arrives in Oberhausen knowing that this weekend will be a huge one for him! With the prize money of his victory two years ago being taken off in the order of merit, the current world number 11 will do everything he can in limiting the damage to his ranking. Wade did not have the best of Euro Tour’s this year as he only managed two quarter final appearances in the four events this year. This year has shown few highs for him such as the reaching the semi finals in the World Series of Darts finals and winning Players Championship 12 but he can really do with a good week here in confidence and in trying to get back into the top 10 in the world. Wade will face Ireland’s Steve Lennon in his first round match! Lennon, a World Cup of Darts runner up for Ireland in 2019, will provide stern opposition for Wade!
Four time European champion Michael van Gerwen will be looking to add a fifth crown to his tally this weekend. 2020 hasn’t been a great year for Michael but he has still managed to win tournaments and also has finished runner up in two Euro Tour events this year! The world number one had a tournament average of just 92.13 in the International Darts Open, but reaching the final and winning whilst not at his best will certainly give him confidence into a tournament that he loves so well! Despite his 2020 form you will still have to back him as a favourite for the title! Van Gerwen will take on Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas in his first round tie! It’s a repeat of their quarter final clash at Ally Pally this year!
54 year old veteran Mervyn King comes into this tournament as the 12th seed. His only impression on the Euro Tour this year was a semi final appearance at the German Darts Championship, where his biggest highlight was thrashing Michael van Gerwen 6-1 in the third round! His ever presence in the top 32 proves his longevity in the sport and ‘The King’ will take on Ian White in his first round game! White, like King, only reached one semi final appearance on the Euro Tour this year! He has also again struggled for form on the TV tournaments! Can he change all that in Oberhausen this weekend?
Gerwyn Price comes into this tournament as the man to beat! The Welshman has won four of the last six tournaments, taking wins in PC17, PC18, World Series of Darts finals and more recently the World Grand Prix, his biggest title to date! He also had success on the Euro Tour this year, taking victory in the Belgian Darts Championship back in March! He narrowly missed out in becoming the number one seed for this event after Joe Cullen pipped him at the post with victory in the International Darts Open! The Welshman is probably without doubt the favourite to win this year’s European Championship and will be looking to go one better this year after losing in the final to Rob Cross 12 months ago and blamed ‘800 other opponents’ in that match! Price will face Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts in his first round match who reached the semi finals of this tournament 8 years ago!
Despite only playing in two Euro Tour events this year, reigning world champion Peter Wright comes into this event as the 15th seed. The world number three didn’t play in the last two events due to COVID travelling fears, but Snakebite will be making an appearance at the European Championship this year, with his semi appearance at the Belgian Darts Championship becoming his saving grace! A favourite for the title, the world champion faces a tricky start as he takes on 2019 German Masters runner up Gabriel Clemens in a rematch of that very final!
Despite not having a very good year form wise, 2016 European Championship runner up Mensur Suljovic’s Euro Tour was one of his strong points of his season. The Austrian managed to score semi final appearances in the last two Euro Tour events of the year, losing both semi finals to Michael van Gerwen. But since his final appearance back in 2016, this tournament has not been a happy hunting ground for Mensur as he has only won one match in the last three editions! Suljovic will take on last year’s semi finalist Daryl Gurney, who has just reached one quarter final on the Euro Tour this year!
Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski finished last year’s Euro Tour with a stunning triumph in Gibraltar. The Pole hasn’t reclaimed some silverware this time around in Europe, but has had a decent Euro Tour in reaching the quarter finals in three of the four events! Ratajski will be looking to break his duck at the European Championship as he hasn’t won a match there in his two appearances at this event. Ratajski will take on Steve West in his first round match! West reached the quarter finals of this event back in 2018 and stunned Michael van Gerwen 10-7 in a memorable win en route!
Portugal’s Jose De Sousa may not be the best counter on the planet but he is some player on the PDC circuit! His stunning form on the floor tournaments was backed in the European Darts Grand Prix where the Portuguese scored his biggest title to date! De Sousa defeated the likes of Ricardo Pietreczko, Gerwyn Price, Darius Labanauskas, Ian White and in the final Michael van Gerwen (averaging 105.79) to claim the title in Sindelfingen! Seeded number three, De Sousa is one to look out for in this year’s tournament and the Portugese will take on last year’s quarter finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan in his first round game!
Pontyberem’s Jonny Clayton just played in two Euro Tour events this year but his latter appearance in the German Darts Championship saw him reach the final where he eventually lost to Devon Petersen. Clayton will be playing in his fourth consecutive European Championship and produced a memorable performance last year in knocking out then defending champion James Wade 6-0 with a 111.33 average! However he will have the home crowd on his back in the first round this time as he takes on local German Max Hopp! Can ‘The Ferret’ silence the crowd.
Michael Smith’s Euro Tour was a very good one as the man from St Helens reached the final of the Belgian Darts Championship this year, losing to Gerwyn Price. He also finished in the semi finals of the International Darts Open where he was defeated by eventual champion Joe Cullen. Smith also reached the semi finals of this tournament last year, so he will be hoping to do better this year. The sixth seed will face one of the inform players of the season Ross Smith in his first round match! Smith reached the quarter finals of the International Darts Open this year, defeating Mario Vandenbogaerde in the first round with a 112.86 and the coming from 4-0 down to defeat Gerwyn Price 6-5! One thing’s for sure there will be a Smith in the second round this year!
The match in the very bottom of the draw features an all Dutch clash between Danny Noppert and Dirk van Duijvenbode. Both players reached semi finals on the Euro Tour this year with Noppert reaching the semis of the German Darts Championship and Van Duijvenbode reaching the semis of the Belgian Darts Championship back in March! Van Duijvenbode scored his best career earnings when he reached his first ever PDC final at the World Grand Prix. He lost by 5 sets to 2 in that final to Gerwyn Price but can one of the rising stars of 2020 go one better this weekend?
The 2020 Unibet European Championship takes place from 29th October – 1st November and is televised on ITV4.
Thursday 29th October
16x First Round Matches (3pm GMT, 4pm CET)
Friday 30th October
Afternoon: 4x Second Round matches (12pm GMT, 1pm CET)
Evening: 4x Second Round matches (7pm GMT, 8pm CET)
Saturday 31st October
Quarter Finals (7pm GMT, 8pm CET)
Sunday 1st November
Semi Finals and Final (7pm GMT, 8pm CET)
Round 1: Best of 11 legs.
Round 2: Best of 19 legs.
Quarter Finals: Best of 19 legs.
Semi Finals: Best of 21 legs.
Final: Best of 21 legs.