International Darts Open 2020 preview and schedule: Friday evening session, including Hopp. Klaasen and Clemens
There's a distinctly German flavour to the first evening session of the International Darts Open.
Six of the eight ties feature a German representative, including a couple of dual nationality. One of those is Robert Marijanovic, who has been on the scene for quite a while. Marijanovic faces Jamie Lewis, who needs to take this International Darts Open as a chance to give his darting career a late bounce. The Welshman has struggled to the extent that he may be about to lose his Tour Card, three years after reaching the World Championship semi-final. Riesa might be an unlikely ticket to a way out.
Martin Schindler is another player whose future looks a little murky right now. The Wall sits in the 65th spot on the PDC Order of Merit - though it's actually a safe spot thanks to Harry Ward's imminent Tour Card concession, it's not safe at all. He'll be standing at hip-height against the big Pole, Tytus Kanik, in round one.
Michael Unterbuchner wasn't quite able to grab a debut European Tour win last time out, but the T-Rex will feel confident of reversing his fortunes in Riesa. He plays Scott Baker, whose PDC career since taking on a Tour Card has tailed off after an encouraging start.
Albanian-born Arsen Ballaj was the last person to win through the home nation qualifier, and the adopted Hanoverian will meet Martijn Kleermaker on his European Tour bow. The big Dutchman beat a home nation qualifier at the European Darts Grand Prix and then toppled Krzysztof Ratajski in the second round. If he beats this qualifier, he will play...well, what do you know? Watch out, Krzysztof.
The massive strength in depth in the PDC means that there's a bountiful supply of very talented players who could be due a big break. Madars Razma has come slightly closer than Kai Fan Leung so far, but there's a lot to like about both, and this should be an excellent tie.
Then there's the 'must do better' bracket. Max Hopp and Jelle Klaasen both sit there, and can book a spot against European Darts Grand Prix winner Jose de Sousa with a first round success here. That's followed by Hopp's World Cup of Darts partner Gabriel Clemens, who plays debutant Philipp Hagemann.
If anyone ever tells you the European Tour doesn't mean much, tell them about Maik Kuivenhoven. Not long ago at all, the Dutchman's professional future was in serious danger. Now, his Tour Card looks to be secured and he's a likely candidate for the European Championship. A win against Jesus Noguera could seal that particular deal. This truly is the jewel in the PDC crown.
International Darts Open 2020 schedule
18:00 Jamie Lewis v Robert Marijanovic
18:30 Tytus Kanik v Martin Schindler
19:00 Scott Baker v Michael Unterbuchner
19:30 Martijn Kleermaker v Arsen Ballaj
20:00 Madars Razma v Kai Fan Leung
20:30 Max Hopp v Jelle Klaasen
21:00 Gabriel Clemens v Philipp Hagemann
21:30 Maik Kuivenhoven v Jesus Noguera