The European Tour gets back under way this weekend in Trier, Germany as 48 players compete to claim the European Darts Matchplay title.
So far in 2022, the Euro Tour has been dominated by Michael van Gerwen and Luke Humphries, with the pair winning three events apiece from the eight played so far, but the Dutchman will be absent from the action this weekend, along with Peter Wright and Michael Smith.
Gerwyn Price and Smith are the other victors this season, while Jeffrey de Zwaan, Luke Woodhouse and Gabriel Clemens receive byes to the second round thanks to the late withdrawals of three leading contenders.
European Darts Matchplay
Trier Arena, Trier, Germany
Friday 1st July - Sunday 3rd July 2022
|How to watch|
PDC.TV, Sports Live Streaming
|Odds||Gerwyn Price 9/2, Jonny Clayton 9/2, Luke Humphries 11/2, Damon Heta 9/1, Rob Cross 12/1|
The order of merit for the European Championship is also taking place with players jockeying for position trying to qualify for October's televised major.
Luke Humphries has long been regarded as a player who could win major titles for years to come and he is certainly on the right trajectory looking at 2022.
After reaching four finals in 2021, including the UK Open, Cool Hand Luke has scooped four titles this year, three of them being on the Euro Tour.
The 26-year-old makes the sport look so effortless and his big scoring is now being backed up by consistency on the doubles, while the absence of three of his biggest rivals will no doubt boost his morale further.
Humphries is chasing Van Gerwen down as he looks to be number one seed for October's European Championship and will be boosted by the absence of his closest rival this weekend.
He will open his campaign in Trier against the winner of the first-round match-up between Niels Zonneveld and Cameron Menzies.
The two in-form players on planet darts right now are the absent Smith and Dimitri Van den Bergh and the latter will have major ambitions of winning in Trier.
Belgian Van den Bergh has won each of the last two World Series events, with the DreamMaker cementing his reputation as a player who shines on the big stage.
He claimed the Nordic Darts Masters crown with an 11-5 victory over Gary Anderson, while his form in the Dutch Darts Masters last weekend was even more impressive.
He swept away a quartet of home hopes, culminating in an 8-2 thrashing of Dirk van Duijvenbode, with Van den Bergh losing a mere seven legs across his four victories.
The Belgian heads to the World Matchplay next month defending his winnings of £150,000, having reached the final last year and won the tournament 12 months earlier and he will want to go to Blackpool in the best of shape, so a win in Trier at 12/1 would set him up nicely.
Former world champion Gerwyn Price may be ranked number two in the world, but his form in 2022 has been something of a let-down.
A wrist injury has contributed to the 37-year-old Welshman struggling to shine, with the Ice Man having not made it past the quarter-finals stage of a major event, excluding the World Cup of Darts.
He does have a Euro Tour triumph to his name already this season, but the draw for Trier has not been kind to the top seed, with Price scheduled to face the winner of the match between Danny Noppert and Rowby-John Rodriguez
Former BDO World Championship runner-up Noppert is a player improving all the time and he reached the final of the last European Tour event - the Dutch Darts Championship - where he was edged out 8-7 by an in-form Smith.
Englishman Rob Cross will definitely think that he is due a European Tour success, having reached three finals so far this season without taking the final step.
The 2018 world champion has been beaten by Van Gerwen once and a red-hot Humphries twice - with the second of those losses an 8-7 thriller in Stuttgart in which an average of 101.82 was still not enough for Cross to take the honours.
Seeded fifth for this event, Cross will probably be content to have been drawn against the winner of the clash between Johan Engstrom and James Wilson and will no doubt be eager to take his place in the winners' circle.
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