European Championship 2020 preview and schedule: Thursday 29 October, including Cross, Van Gerwen and Price

Lucky you! There's a whopper of a European Darts Championship day laid out, and you're invited.

Last year's event will take some topping. Michael van Gerwen was dumped out in round one; defending champion James Wade was whitewashed at the first hurdle; 10 of the top 16 seeds lost their first match while the 31st seed made the semi-finals; and Rob Cross took home the trophy. After a curtailed 2020 European Tour, this year's European Championship will be different, but still memorable.

Let's get straight into it, shall we? Play begins with an all-English tussle as Dave Chisnall, who is playing close to his peak stuff, takes on Jamie Hughes. And if this one doesn't give full satisfaction, there are 15 further games to savour over a bumper all-day session.

Krzysztof Ratajski has performed consistently well on the European stage, and this gives the 10th seed the chance to translate that form into a big-stage win. His first challenge will be seeing off 2018 quarter-finalist Steve West.

Mervyn King and Ian White clash in what should be a tight tussle, and then comes a match that just screams fun. Jose de Sousa, the maverick with a liberal view of maths, crosses paths with the often explosive talent of Jeffrey de Zwaan.

The opposite is true of the next pair that take to the Oberhausen stage; James Wade is a premium class punisher, Steve Lennon is cool and methodical. That's not to say that this one won't be fun too, of course.

Devon Petersen grabbed his first PDC title at the German Darts Championship, which has landed him the fourth seed spot. First up, he plays Andy Hamilton.

There's a Smith derby to enjoy in round one; it's Ross, rather than Michael, who is the focus here. The Essex ace keeps showing his best side in Europe (remember that famous nine-darter) and comes into this in excellent form. Michael Smith will be wary of his namesake, who sent Michael van Gerwen packing last year.

The two Dutchmen who have made the biggest strides in following in Van Gerwen's footsteps have been drawn together. Danny Noppert's in red-hot form; Dirk van Duijvenbode comes into this as a newly-minted major finalist.

Maik Kuivenhoven has found the European Tour to be his saving grace, and gets the chance to cause a surprise against Nathan Aspinall at the European Championship.

Joe Cullen took the fourth and final trophy of the European season at the International Darts Open, making him the form horse in Oberhausen, as evidenced by the fact he's the top seed. William O'Connor, meanwhile, qualifies for this having won just two European Tour games this year - highlighting the scaled-back nature of the 2020 calendar.

Rob Cross comes into his European Championship title defence having been stunned by German qualifier Franz Roetzsch; it's not the biggest confidence-booster ever. Martijn Kleermaker will be keen to take full advantage on debut.

Jonny Clayton will have a tougher task in playing Max Hopp than he may have done even a couple of months ago, with the German star enjoying a bit of a resurgence. That's followed by Michael van Gerwen needing to get his European Championship off on the right foot. Darius Labanauskas is quite the banana skin, and won't fear the world number one a bit.

Gerwyn Price let himself down in last year's final, not getting close to his high standards. But after another good year, including his recent World Grand Prix triumph, the Welshman will go into this tournament with fresh optimism. Kim Huybrechts, meanwhile, has a chance to avenge his Grand Prix loss to Price.

Peter Wright ends his self-imposed European ban to attend this event, from which he was sent home in the first round by Jeffrey de Zwaan last year. 2020's draw hasn't been kinder; Gabriel Clemens is making a habit of turning over top opposition, particularly in early rounds, and the first-to-six format suits him nicely.

We round off the opening day's play with two players whose 2020 has been pretty rubbish. Mensur Suljovic can at least point to some very promising showings in the past two European Tour events. Daryl Gurney won't take any solace in recent results at all. This is a massive game for both in the larger context, given everything still up for grabs this year.

European Championship 2020 schedule

First round
Thursday October 29

15:00 Jamie Hughes v Dave Chisnall
15:30 Krzysztof Ratajski v Steve West
16:00 Mervyn King v Ian White
16:30 Jose de Sousa v Jeffrey de Zwaan
17:00 James Wade v Steve Lennon
17:30 Devon Petersen v Andy Hamilton
18:00 Michael Smith v Ross Smith
18:30 Danny Noppert v Dirk van Duijvenbode
19:00 Nathan Aspinall v Maik Kuivenhoven
19:30 Joe Cullen v William O'Connor
20:00 Rob Cross v Martijn Kleermaker
20:30 Jonny Clayton v Max Hopp
21:00 Michael van Gerwen v Darius Labanauskas
21:30 Gerwyn Price v Kim Huybrechts
22:00 Peter Wright v Gabriel Clemens
22:30 Mensur Suljovic v Daryl Gurney

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