Mighty Mike: King of Europe

(Picture by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The PDC European Tour returns to Germany for the second weekend running as the 32 qualifiers get proceedings under way in first-round action from noon today.

Thousands of fans will descend upon the Zenith events hall in Munich to watch the action unfold over the Easter holiday.

Last year Michael van Gerwen was imperious on his way to the German Darts Grand Prix final- dropping only 1 leg on route- where he swept aside Rob Cross by 6 legs to 3, averaging 111 in the process.

Should we expect a repeat this time around? It is hard to argue otherwise…..

Reigning Supreme

There have been 53 European Tour events since its inception in 2012 and following his defeat of Peter Wright last weekend, Michael van Gerwen has now won 21 of them.

Astonishingly, this is 1 more than the rest of the current top 16 players in the world put together.

Believe it or not these tournaments are incredibly difficult to win. Only 5 of the 19 other men to have triumphed over the years have managed to climb the mountain more than once, further highlighting his incredible record.

‘Mighty Mike’ is the undisputed King of Europe. Blazing a trail across the continent- army of Dutch fans in tow- and leaving a trail of fallen opponents in his wake whilst collecting as much silverware as he can fit in his trophy cabinet.

(Picture by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

But, initially, van Gerwen made little impact on his European outings. Having debuted at the 2012 Austrian Darts Open as a 23 year-old qualifier, he won only 6 matches at his first 6 tournaments.

It would take just over a year for him to find his feet- breaking new ground with a run to the semi-finals of the European Darts Trophy on April Fools ‘ Day 2013. He would go on to win the next two events in Germany and Austria and end the year with a first World Crown.

Exactly five years to the day ‘The Green Machine’ will enter the fray on Sunday, along with the 15 other seeded challengers. But who will be laughing loudest as their name is being engraved on Monday evening?

Dedication for Perfection

Rivals such as Gary Anderson, Raymond van Barneveld, and Adrian Lewis have regularly opted out from what they consider unwelcome interruptions to the showpiece Major Tournaments.

They, instead, prefer to conserve energy in a justifiable attempt to reduce air miles and try to peak for the big occasion.

But the man with a 1 million pound cushion atop the world rankings has a different take on it. It’s his chance to escape the unrelenting pressure of the 16-week long Premier League season and perform in places where he is only ever adored, never jeered.

This could explain why he has only missed 6 events in 6 years but, also, van Gerwen has admitted he prefers to play more competitive fixtures (enabling him to practise less) in order to stay sharp when the Major Tournaments roll round.

It is hard to argue with his logic. MVG has topped the Premier League table every year he has been involved, whilst juggling his Euro Tour commitments.

Springboard to Greatness

Peter Wright has reaped the rewards of a very similar regime to the twice World Champion. ‘Snakebite’ also competes as often as he can, winning 10 PDC tournaments in 2017 including 5 in Europe- second only to MVG’s haul of 16.

The German Darts Grand Prix could be the stepping stone to greater things for somebody this weekend. 78% of players to make a final on the European Tour have reached the same stage in Majors.

So if a new face appears on Monday evening, take it as a sign of things to come….

Don’t miss a single dart with live coverage of every session at PDC.TV!

2018 German Darts Grand Prix

Schedule of Play

Saturday March 31st

First Round

Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm GMT)

Luke Humphries v William O’Connor

Rowby-John Rodriguez v Max Hopp

Danny Noppert v Krzysztof Ratajski

Nathan Aspinall v Steve Lennon

Maik Langendorf v Keegan Brown

Ryan Meikle v Scott Taylor

Steve West v Paul Rowley

Darren Webster v Jan Dekker

 

Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm GMT)

Madars Razma v James Wade

Jermaine Wattimena v Alan Tabern

Josh Payne v Michael Rasztovits

Martin Schindler v Chris Dobey

James Wilson v Toni Alcinas

Stephen Bunting v Christian Goedl

Johnny Clayton v Rene Berndt

Adrian Lewis v Yordi Meeuwisse

 

Sunday April 1st

Second Round

Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm GMT)

Gerwyn Price v Humphries/O’Connor

Dave Chisnall v Webster/Dekker

Kim Huybrechts v West/Rowley

Mervyn King v Rodriguez/Hopp

Kyle Anderson v Wattimena/Tabern

Simon Whitlock v Langendorf/Brown

Alan Norris v Wilson/Alcinas

Daryl Gurney v Meikle/Taylor

 

Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm GMT)

Joe Cullen v Lewis/Meeuwisse

Ian White v Bunting/Goedl

Jelle Klaasen v Razma/Wade

Michael Smith v Schindler/Dobey

Peter Wright v Payne/Rasztovits

Mensur Suljovic v Noppert/Ratajski

Michael van Gerwen v Aspinall/Lennon

Rob Cross v Clayton/Berndt

 

Monday April 2nd

Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm GMT)

Third Round

 

Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm GMT)

Quarter-Finals

Semi-Finals

Final