It’s been a great darts season so far that has thrown up pretty much everything you can imagine in the sport. We’ve had the joy of seeing a local hero win the Austrian Darts Championship.

Also we’ve even seen Phil Taylor call for darts sensation Leighton Bennett to receive an invitation to the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton. With so much to talk about, it’s easy to forget that there’s the little matter of the European Championships coming up in the not too distant future.

So if you’re still relishing Suljovic’s win in Austria and haven’t even begun to think of what’s up next, here’s all you need to know about this year’s event.

The Tournament

This year’s European Championship takes place at the Lokhalle in the city of Gottingen (more on that later) from October 24th – 27th.

As the final event of the European Tour, this is one of the biggest tournaments on the calendar, which is reflected in the prize fund of £500,000.

There will be 32 qualifiers all of whom have earned their right to play at the Lokhalle based on their results in the previous European Tour events of the season.

The first round gets underway on Thursday evening, concluding on Friday afternoon. The second round with the remaining sixteen players will be played on Friday evening and Saturday evening.

The Quarter finals are penciled in for the Sunday afternoon session. The semi-finals and final will take place on Sunday evening when we’ll discover who is this year’s European champion.

The winner this year will pocket £120,000 (a little more than the £100,000 James Wade picked up last year) while the runner up will receive £60,000.

Photo: Wikimedia / CC0 1.0

The location

As we just mentioned the location for this year’s event is the Lokhalle in Gottingen, Germany, and by all accounts it’s an amazing city for a weekend break. The place is steeped in history and there are dozens of local sights to take in if that’s how you want to spend your time between sessions.

But what about the fun stuff? We’re glad you asked.

Now, there’s no doubt that there’s a huge link between casinos and darts. In fact, some of the biggest tournaments in the world have been held in casinos. Interestingly, that’s not the case here even though there are, in fact, five casinos in the city. That’s right, five. So what can you play in each? Well, there are plenty of options such as live blackjack, roulette, poker, and of course the slots. You might even get lucky and bump into Raymond van Barneveld as he’s known to love a bit of poker in his spare time. And he may just have a bit of spare time as he looks set to miss out on this year’s tournament.

The city also has a quite lively nightlife and a huge variety of restaurants and bars to choose from. All in all, it sounds like it’s one of the best possible locations for a great weekend of darts interspersed with some lovely sights and opportunities for a good night out. What more could you ask for?

The players

The top 32 players on the PDC European Tour Order of Merit will qualify for the tournament. This order of merit is based solely on the prize money earned on the European Tour events that precede the Championship.

At the time of writing, there are only two events left to take place, so the top 20 on the order of merit are virtually guaranteed their places in the championship. Below that, anything could happen if one or two lower placed players play exceptionally well in the last two tournaments. The reality though is that, with this being based on a player’s performance over the season, we can’t envisage much change below the 26th or even the 28th qualifying spot.

So who looks good for this year’s title? Well, last year’s winner James Wade has had a good year so far. Although he’s quite far down the Order of Merit, he’s had one of his most successful calendar years winning four PDC ranking titles in 2019. It’s hard to see him repeating his success of last year though as the competition looks too stiff.

Mensur Suljovic is fourth on the ranking thanks to his stunning display at the Austrian Darts Championship. But that’s about as far as many think The Gentle will go this season. However, if he can build on his momentum then who knows what might happen in October. Perhaps he’s coming into form at just the right time.

Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

Photo: Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

Ian White and Daryl Gurney are second and third respectively on the PDC European Tour Order of Merit. White is the perennial second place man when it comes to a certain Dutch player, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Gurney won his first European Tour title this year at the German Darts Championship and will feel that his 2018 Players Championship Finals win over Michael van Gerwen might just work in his favour should he come up against the world number one.

And that brings us to the favourite. Michael van Gerwen. Mighty Mike has 48 televised titles to date and five televised nine dart finishes. To say he’ll take some beating is an understatement of massive proportions. This year he started strong by winning his fifth successive Masters title. He then went on to win his 29th European Tour title and followed that up by winning his 30th in April at the German Darts Grand Prix in Munich. And all of this just shy of his 30th birthday.

In all honesty, it’s difficult to see anyone but van Gerwen lifting the title in Gottingen. This man looks set to break almost every darts record there is and then create a few more we haven’t even thought of yet. But as you know, darts can be a funny old game and the first dart hasn’t even been thrown yet so we’ll hold back on our predictions for now and just wait for the entertainment to begin.

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Author: Pieter