European Championship: Tasty duels in 1st round afternoon session
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | October 28, 2015
- First round afternoon session
- Friday, October 30th
- Scheduled for 12.45pm-5pm GMT
- Hasselt Ethias-Arena, Belgium
- Live on ITV4
Darts fans brace yourself, as the European Championship is just the first of many premier events in the sport this winter, leading up to the PDC World Championship in December.
This three-day competition will see all of the elite names battle it out for the title, which has seen four different stars claim it in the last four editions, and Coral preview the first session of the opening round in Belgium.
We have taken a look at a thrilling evening session of darts too.
Cristo Reyes v Max Hopp
Spain’s Reyes was a surprise package in last year’s World Championship, shocking Wes Newton and Kevin Painter to reach the last 16, and he has a real chance to show that it was not just a one-off as he faces German teenager Hopp.
The Spartan and rising star Maximiser are joint 10/11 chances for victory here, perhaps due to being ranked close to each other, at 52 and 48 respectively, and this could go the distance. Back 28-year-old Reyes, therefore, at 11/2 to win 6-5.
Christian Kist v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Another up-and-coming youngster, 21-year-old Austrian Rodriguez, will take to the Belgian oche, and will hope to improve on his debut European Championship performance last year when he was knocked out in the first round by Robert Thornton.
Little John (even-money chance) has been handed an easier task this time around with Christian Kist (4/5 favourite), but the Dutch 2012 BDO world champion will be no walkover and has beaten the Austrian in two of their three meetings.
Simon Whitlock v Magnus Caris
Former winner here Whitlock and Sweden’s Caris, both 46, are up next, and The Wizard is the heavy 2/7 favourite for this clash of the veterans.
Australian Whitlock has won two of their three head-to-heads, 6-3 on both occasions, and is a tempting 4/1 shout to triumph by that scoreline once more. If you fancy Poker Face to get his first victory at this event at the third time of asking, though, then take odds of 13/5.
Justin Pipe v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Dutch 23-year-old Van Duijvenbode (13/8) may not be a well-known name on tour, and is down in 66th in the PDC rankings, but has won both matches against established star Pipe (1/2) this year.
Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
It seems that these two get drawn with each other in all the major events this second half of the year, having met in the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and then the European Darts Grand Prix since July.
World number nine Smith is the 1/2 odds-on favourite, having won the last two battles, but don’t back against former Welsh rugby professional Price (13/8), who shocked Bully Boy in the Blackpool tournament.
Ian White v Stephen Bunting
It really hasn’t been 2014 BDO world champ Bunting’s year, after highly impressing in 2014 following his crossover to the PDC, and he really needs to start winning high profile matches to regain his confidence.
The Bullet (6/5) has been handed a tough start, however, against White (odds-on 4/6 favourite), who got to the quarters of the World Grand Prix and has won each of their last four duels.
Robert Thornton v John Henderson
Recent World Grand Prix champion Thornton will still be reeling after his final thriller with Michael van Gerwen for his third major success, and he is the heavy 1/3 odds-on favourite to defeat fellow Scot Henderson (9/4) in the first round.
Peter Wright v Alan Norris
While one Scot is guaranteed to be in the second round, another in fourth seed Wright (4/9) could join one of the above too, when he faces Norris (7/4).
Chuck’s ranking of 55 doesn’t tell the full story, though, as the 2014 BDO runner-up only finally crossed over to the PDC earlier this year and is still working his way up. Snakebite has won both of their encounters, but only by a leg each time, so take tasty odds of 6/1 for him to triumph 6-5.
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Coral’s top tip: Reyes and Hopp are similar in current ability, so back the surprise star of last year’s World Championship to win 6-5 at 11/2.