The World Series of Darts continues this week, with Cologne hosting the second event of the summer, the German Darts Masters. All the action will be live on ITV4 in the UK, with first-round matches beginning at 8pm on Friday.
Last weekend Nathan Aspinall picked up the US Darts Masters, and over the next couple of months, the PDC will be staging events in Brisbane, Melbourne and Hamilton before the World Series Finals take place in Amsterdam at the beginning of November.
The format of the event sees eight established PDC stars take on eight home nation players for the coveted trophy and £20,000 top prize. Five of the eight PDC players competing here were in Las Vegas last weekend, with Mensur Suljovic, James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld making their first appearance in the World Series this year.
Many of the home nation players are familiar faces on the PDC circuit, with Max Hopp, Martin Schindler and Gabriel Clemens all featuring on the main tour. Last weekend all eight PDC players made it through the first-round, but things are likely to be tougher for the big names this weekend.
The three strongest home nation players are all in the bottom half of the draw, and with Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross and last year’s winner Mensur Suljovic there too, the top-half of the draw looks the slightly easier section.
(1) Peter Wright v Robert Marijanovic
Gary Anderson v Nico Kurz
(4) Daryl Gurney v Christian Bunse
James Wade v Kevin Munch
(2) Michael van Gerwen v Martin Schindler
Mensur Suljovic v Maik Langendorf
(3) Rob Cross v Max Hopp
Raymond van Barneveld v Gabriel Clemens
The format of the event is the same throughout the series; last 16 matches are best of 11 legs and take place on Friday night, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final all best of 15 leg contests and played on a busy Saturday night.
Friday 12th July at 8pm
Best of 11 legs
Saturday 13th July at 8pm
Quarter-finals, Semi-finals and Final
Best of 15 legs
Peter Wright travels to Germany in pretty good form. Of the five players who played in the US Masters last week, he’s probably the only one that came away feeling good about his game. Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Rob Cross and Daryl Gurney all lost out in the quarter-finals, and although Wright only made it one round further, he was a touch unlucky against the eventual winner Nathan Aspinall, losing 8-7 in the semis. ‘Snakebite’ faces Robert Marijanovic in the first-round, so has avoided any of the bigger German threats in his opening match. His route to the final will probably mean having to see off Gary Anderson and then Daryl Gurney or James Wade, but Wright seems to be playing with greater confidence at the moment, and should be feeling as if he can beat any of those players. It also helps that Wright is a very popular player in Germany, so as long as he isn’t facing any of the home contingent in the latter stages, he should get good support from the crowd.
From the bottom half of the draw Mensur Suljovic could put in a bold bid to defend the title he won 12 months ago. The Austrian hasn’t been in the best form recently, but his performance at the Czech Darts Open a couple of weeks ago did give cause for optimism. In that tournament he whitewashed John Henderson, and beat an impressive Ted Evetts – before losing to Keegan Brown with an average of over 100. Suljovic does have the advantage of not having travelled to Las Vegas and back in the last week, so should be fresher than most of his main rivals. Suljovic is generally a 16/1 shot for the title, but given how Van Gerwen and Cross (the two favourites from the bottom half of the draw) struggled in the US Masters – ‘The Gentle’ could spring a surprise or two this week.