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Hungarian Darts Trophy preview: Joe Cullen aims to end drought with Hungary defence

Joe Cullen, yet to win a PDC darts title in 2023, will hope a return to Budapest provides a spark as he looks to successfully defend his Hungarian Darts Trophy crown.

Cullen is one of 16 seeds in a field of 48 lining up at the SYMA Sports and Conference Centre in the 12th and penultimate event of this year's European Tour.

Michael van Gerwen, fresh from victory in last weekend's World Series Finals, will be the man to beat while Gerwyn Price, world champion Michael Smith and all the game's other big names are also heading for the Danube.

WhatHungarian Darts Trophy
WhereSYMA Sports and Conference Centre, Budapest
WhenFriday 22nd September - Sunday 24th September, 2023
How to watchPDCTV & Viaplay

European Championship places on the line

It's getting tense in the race to qualify for next month's European Championship in Dortmund and this weekend in Budapest could be make-or-break for a number of players.

The highest-ranked 32 players from this year's European Tour events will be heading for the Westfalenstadion on October 26th and there are just two events left for players to stamp their card.

The German Darts Championship in Hildesheim from October 13-15 is the final tournament, preceded by the third running of the Hungarian Darts Trophy.

Price and Cullen won the first two and certainly the Iceman will be on plenty of shortlists again.

Price is third on the European Championship Order of Merit, Cullen 17th, so neither player has any fears of missing out on a money-spinning trip to Dortmund at the end of next month.

But Cullen has drawn a blank this year and could do with a decent run in Budapest just to send out a statement going into the business end of the season.

Will Budapest produce another different winner?

Many darts fans won't look far down the betting for their idea of a winner, with the likes of Van Gerwen, Price and Smith sure to be warm orders.

But if we know one thing about this year's European Tour it's that it has never been more wide open.

Eleven events have gone and there have been nine different winners. Dave Chisnall and Price are the only two players to have lifted two trophies on this annual trek around the continent.

The seven other winners have been Smith, Van Gerwen, Jonny Clayton, Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Luke Humphries and Krzyzstof Ratajski, the Pole being the most recent winner when he triumphed in the German Darts Open two weeks ago.

Ratajski would not have been well fancied, but it shows the strength in depth in the PDC's ranks and why, with a favourable draw, probably half the field can realistically say they are in with a shout in Budapest.

Can Kovacs inspire local success?

Round one in Budapest features 32 players, a mix of qualifiers from the Pro Tour and locally in Hungary and Patrick Kovacs gets in the field as the highest-ranked home player on tour.

It means local fans will have four Hungarians to cheer on, all hoping to come through Friday's first-round action for a shot at one of the top 16 seeds in round two.

Other qualifiers include a whole batch of major winners such as James Wade, Jose de Sousa, Andrew Gilding, Daryl Gurney and reigning European champion Ross Smith, while young Dane Vladimir Andersen might be understandably a bit nervous, having qualified for a European Tour event for the first time.

MvG at next stop on road back to world No.1

Chisnall, twice a winner on the European Tour, is top of the Euros Order of Merit and therefore No.1 seed.

Chizzy reached a Pro Tour final on the floor in Barnsley earlier this month, on the resumption of the season after a summer break.

Humphries, a three-time winner on tour this year, looked strong once again when reaching the semis of last weekend's World Series Finals in Amsterdam, as did Nathan Aspinall, who made the final.

Both men, however, were undone by Mighty Mike and the Green Machine has boasted that his win in Amsterdam, at the end of a long break and after surgery, is the start of a glorious run that will take him back to the No.1 ranking in the world.

If he reproduces anything like that form in Budapest he will take all the beating.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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