2023 CAZOO EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Only a few hours now separate us from the start of the European Championships, scheduled to take place on October 27th from Dortmund with the winner of the competition set to pick up £120,000 in prize money.
Included in the First-Round draw is an all-Red Dragon affair between reigning World Champion Peter Wright and 25-year-old Ryan Meikle who has enjoyed a very strong 2022 on the European stage, reaching the Final day of European events on a few occasions.
Snakebite has one European title to his name out of the 13 played this year, after beating Dimitri van den Bergh 8-6 in the Final of the German Darts Open last month.
The First-Round draw could prove a problem though for the two-time world champion, with the Barber making his debut in the European Championships this year after coming through the Euro Tour order of merit to qualify.
His best run came at the recent Belgian Darts Open in Wieze where he reached the Last 8 of the competition, losing to recent World Grand Prix Runner Up Nathan Aspinall in a last leg shootout.
Luke Humphries is the Number 1 seed for the competition after claiming four of the 13 Euro Tours available throughout the year including a 7-0 win over Michael van Gerwen in the Semi Finals of the German Darts Grand Prix, before beating Martin Lukeman 8-2 in the Final back in April.
Cool Hand also beat defending European Championship champion Rob Cross in half his Final successes this year, winning 8-5 of the Czech Darts Open before meeting again in the Final of the European Darts Grand Prix a week later, with the Red Dragon star claiming a last leg decider to win the title in Stuttgart.
The Englishman will face former World Matchplay Semi Finalist Krzysztof Ratajski in the First Round of the competition, as the pair prepare to grace the oche when the competition starts on Thursday evening.
World Number 1 Gerwyn Price has been drawn against former Austrian World Cup finalist Rowby-John Rodriguez in the First Round. The Iceman will know that this is not an easy draw, with Little John causing major problems for his Welsh compatriot Jonny Clayton in the opening round of the World Matchplay, dumping the Ferret out on the opening night in Blackpool.
The Markham ace will however be full of confidence having regained his World Number 1 spot back off fellow Red Dragon star Peter Wright, as well as reaching the Final of the World Matchplay for the first time in his career and winning the International Darts Open (ET1) back in Riesa at the end of February.
Jonny Clayton the New South Wales Darts Masters champion will also compete in Dortmund this weekend as he arguably faces the most difficult draw of all the Red Dragon players this weekend in the European Championships.
The Welshman will face hometown hero Gabriel Clemens in the First Round, with the crowd surely set to play some part in the way this match is decided. The Pontyberem born star knows how to deal with stick from the crowd, beating both Peter Wright and Gary Anderson in the same Premier League night when the competition entered Glasgow for the thirteenth mini competition.
Action gets underway from Dortmund on Thursday from 6pm live on PDC TV and ITV Sport with Rob Cross the defending champion for the event.
By Harry Masterson
European Darts Championship 2022: Draw
Luke Humphries (1) v Krzysztof Ratajski (32)
Ryan Searle (16) v Martin Lukeman (17)
Michael Smith (8) v Karol Sedlacek (25)
Nathan Aspinall (9) v Josh Rock (24)
Rob Cross (4) v James Wade (29)
Dirk van Duijvenbode (13) v Madars Razma (20)
Damon Heta (5) v Vincent van der Voort (28)
Danny Noppert (12) v Andrew Gilding (21)
Michael van Gerwen (2) v Chris Dobey (31)
Jose de Sousa (15) v Martin Schindler (18)
Dave Chisnall (17) v Stephen Bunting (26)
Jonny Clayton (10) v Gabriel Clemens (23)
Peter Wright (3) v Ryan Meikle (30)
Gerwyn Price (14) v Rowby-John Rodriguez (19)
Joe Cullen (6) v Ross Smith (27)
Dimitri van den Bergh (11) v Daryl Gurney (22)