THE final international World Series of Darts event of 2017 begins on Friday as the German Darts Masters opens at the Castello Arena in Dusseldorf.
The 16-player, two-day tournament comes following the previous worldwide events staged in Dubai, Shanghai, Las Vegas, Auckland, Melbourne and Perth earlier in 2017, and marks the continued growth of the sport in Germany.
Seven German players will be in action in Dusseldorf this weekend, including former World Youth Champion Max Hopp and Berlin's emerging star Martin Schindler.
German Superleague qualifiers Maik Langendorf, Stefan Stoyke, Kevin Munch, Dragutin Horvat and Robert Marijanovic are joined by Austrian number one Mensur Suljovic in joining Hopp and Schindler to take on the eight PDC stars.
2017 World Series event winners Gary Anderson, Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Kyle Anderson are joined by Peter Wright, Raymond van Barneveld, James Wade and Daryl Gurney as the top eight from the World Series Order of Merit travel to the Castello Arena.
Gary Anderson, the winner in both Dubai and Perth this year, will come up against top German Hopp in their first round tie on Friday night, and is expecting a tough test.
"It would be great to win another title and I'll be giving it my best shot," said Anderson, who also won three World Series events in 2016.
"The atmosphere is always great in Germany and the fans love the darts, and this will be great experience for the German players too. Max has got loads of talent so I'll have a tough match on Friday."
The other two-time World Series winner this year, the Shanghai and Las Vegas champion Van Gerwen, plays Schindler in their opener as the World Champion makes his World Series return after missing August's treble-header following the birth of his daughter.
"The fans are always fantastic in Germany and this is an event I'm looking forward to," said Van Gerwen. "I won the European Tour last weekend so I know I'm playing well, and I can't wait for this weekend.
"The World Series is growing all the time and it's great to have a big event in Germany like this."
Legendary 16-time World Champion Taylor is bidding to follow up his Melbourne Darts Masters triumph by taking victory in his final competitive event in Germany ahead of his impending retirement.
"I'm looking forward to it and it's always good in Germany," said Taylor, who plays Robert Marijanovic. "We want to spread darts worldwide and that's what the World Series has done, and Germany is another place where darts is booming.
"There are young players coming through now and we'll all have to watch out, but I'll be going out to enjoy myself this weekend, and if I win then it would be great."
Auckland Darts Masters winner Kyle Anderson takes on Suljovic, with both players having claimed their maiden TV titles this year after the Austrian won September's Champions League of Darts.
New World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney plays Maik Langendorf, the German Superleague winner and former UK Open qualifier, while five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld plays Stefan Stoyke.
Peter Wright comes up against Dragutin Horvat, who competed in the 2017 World Championship, while James Wade faces fellow left-hander Kevin Munch.
Following Friday's first round, the tournament concludes on Saturday, with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session and the semi-finals and final in the evening session.