European Championship 2019 - Preview
The 2019 Unibet European Championship gets underway on Thursday at the Lokhalle in Göttingen, Germany as James Wade begins his title defence against Jonny Clayton on the opening night.

The Unibet European Championship will be held from October 24-27, with the top 32 players from the 2019 European Tour competing for 500,000 pound in prize money. The tournament will be broadcast live on ITV4 in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.

Wade defeated Simon Whitlock 11-8 in last year's gripping final in Dortmund having survived missed match darts in both his quarter-final win over Gerwyn Price and a dramatic semi-final against German favourite Max Hopp. The title came just 13 days after Wade became a father for the first time to son Arthur, and the ten-time televised PDC champion holds fond memories of last year's triumph.

"I do have fond memories of winning this event last year, it meant a lot to me," said Wade, who hit a nine-dart finish on the European Tour in March. "I'd won TV titles before but I'd never made the most of them and that one was extra special because it was for Arthur. "I felt emotional after I won it. I've been through some tough times in my career and winning this last year was a really sweet moment after coming through it all. "But that's gone now and my focus is on this weekend and giving the best performance I can. I'm a dangerous player and I know what I'm capable of."

Thursday's action-packed opening session will begin with a clash between European Darts Matchplay winner Joe Cullen and Mervyn King before a meeting between former European Championship winners Adrian Lewis and Whitlock. Michael van Gerwen will begin his quest for a third televised title in as many weeks against Ross Smith after winning the World Grand Prix and Champions League over the past fortnight. The world number one, Unibet's 6/4 pre-tournament favourite, is confident of regaining his European Championship title after losing out in last year's second round.

"Last year was very disappointing for myself, fair play to Steve West he played a great game to beat me," said Van Gerwen, who held the European Championship title from 2014 to 2017. "This tournament is important to me because I play all year on the European Tour to be number one seed here. "Last weekend was a phenomenal weekend of high-standard darts for me, I didn't have one average under 100. "There's lots of TV tournaments coming up and that's a really nice position to be in because I love to perform on stage, especially when I'm playing well and winning things."

Day One also sees Rob Cross in action against Darren Webster, while Danish Darts Open winner Dave Chisnall takes on Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Ian White, a winner of two European Tour titles in 2019, will play Michael Smith in Friday afternoon's star attraction, as Peter Wright faces the test of rising Dutch talent Jeffrey de Zwaan. 2019 European Tour winners Gerwyn Price, Mensur Suljovic, Krzysztof Ratajski and Jamie Hughes will also get their campaigns underway on the afternoon of Day Two.

Friday's evening session will see the opening four second round ties take place, before the remaining four are played on Saturday evening. The quarter-finals will kick-off Sunday's final day of action, followed by the semi-finals and final in the evening.

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