The PDC World Series 2018 begins with the German Darts Masters, which is taking place in grand surroundings.
Gelsenkirchen’s Veltins Arena will host Champions League football next season. The home of Bundesliga side Schalke 04 is switching sports for the weekend, however. Peter Wright won the colossal German Darts Masters trophy, plus a sizeable chunk of the prize pot, in 2017. This time around he’s out of form yet still believes he has a chance. Michael van Gerwen, the PDC’s answer to Bayern Munich, is however the overwhelming favourite. The 2017 World Series Finals winner opens his campaign against a man who’s a favourite in another sense. Max Hopp, the German wunderkind, will have the crowd’s full backing. It certainly helped him when he won the German Darts Open in Saarbrucken, so van Gerwen better beware the Maximiser.
That is the sixth of eight opening round ties, in a packed event which will be completed in three sessions across one day. In the opening session, starting at 2pm (3pm local time), Raymond van Barneveld kicks things off against Manfred Bilderl. Then Jamie Lewis, granted a World Series spot for the first time, takes on Nico Kurz. Lewis has expressed a desire to win the Gelsenkirchen event, but needs to hold off the 21-year-old first. Mensur Suljovic faces the prospect of overcoming the tricky Robert Marijanovic, before we’re treated to a rematch of the Players Championship 11 final. Gary Anderson overcame Gabriel Clemens in Wigan, but only just. With Clemens on home soil, it could be a tough afternoon for the world number four.
The later first round session begins at 4.30pm. Dimitri van den Bergh, like Lewis, earned a World Series spot based on his Ally Pally exploits. He could barely have been drawn against a tougher opening opponent. Martin Schindler has led the way for his countrymen in the past year or so. He’ll want to do so again in Gelsenkirchen. Then comes the hotly anticipated meeting between van Gerwen and Hopp, before defending champion Wright takes to the stage. Snakebite narrowly avoided a first round defeat to Dragutin Horvat en route to victory last year. Now Horvat has a chance for revenge. In the final first round tie, Rob Cross makes his World Series bow against Stefan Stoyke.
A bumper evening session, starting at 7pm, features the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. All the action is live on ITV4, with PDC TV the place to go for non-UK viewers.
First Round – 2pm BST start
Raymond van Barneveld v Manfred Bilderl
Jamie Lewis v Nico Kurz
Mensur Suljovic v Robert Marijanovic
Gary Anderson v Gabriel Clemens
First round – 4.30pm BST start
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Martin Schindler
Michael van Gerwen v Max Hopp
Peter Wright v Dragutin Horvat
Rob Cross v Stefan Stoyke
Best of 11 legs
Quarter-Finals – 7pm BST start
Anderson/Clemens v Lewis/Kurz
Van Gerwen/Hopp v Van den Bergh/Schindler
Wright/Horvat v Van Barneveld/Bilderl
Cross/Stoyke v Suljovic/Marijanovic
Best of 15 legs
Anderson/Clemens/Lewis/Kurz v Van Gerwen/Hopp/Van den Bergh/Schindler
Wright/Horvat/Van Barneveld/Bilderl v Cross/Stoyke/Suljovic/Marijanovic
Best of 15 legs
Best of 15 legsTags: German Darts Masters 2018
Author: Ed McCosh