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PDC European Darts Open: Preview

Michael van Gerwen is the defending champion at the European Darts Open in Leverkusen this weekend, the star turn in a 47-player field chasing down the £25,000 first prize at the Ostermann-Arena.

The European Darts Open is the fifth of 13 European Tour (ET) events on the PDC's 2022 calendar, Van Gerwen having won the last running of it three years ago.

And the Green Machine, 9/2 to claim gold in Germany, is the man to beat on European soil having already won two of the first four ET events, including in Austria last weekend. You can follow the action via our Sports Live Streaming platform.

Clayton and Van Gerwen set for last-16 showdown

Van Gerwen is in sizzling form having landed seven titles over the past two months, showing the dominance of old.

As well as his two European Tour successes, the Dutch former world No.1 has won two floor titles and three Premier League nights. By any measure he is flying - but he's not the only one.

Jonny Clayton, rapidly turning into Van Gerwen's biggest rival, is also enjoying a stunning season and these two oche aces are seeded to meet in the last 16 in Leverkusen. And that would be a seriously difficult match to call.

The two of them met as recently as Thursday night in the final of Night 13 of the Premier League in Glasgow with the Welshman coming out on top. That was his fourth nightly triumph in this year's competition and saw him ease six points clear of Van Gerwen in the table.

You have to go back four years to the 2018 Austrian Open for Clayton's one and only European Tour win but he's a different player now and will have his backers at 5/1 in Leverkusen.

Top heavy draw will see big-name carnage

Clayton and Van Gerwen are part of a top half of the draw packed with the game's top names, including the winners of the other two ET events, Gerwyn Price and Luke Humphries. They are 6/1 and 12/1 respectively this weekend.

Premier League newcomer Joe Cullen, an 18/1 chance, is also in the top section of the draw.

That means the big name in the bottom half is world champion Peter Wright, 13/2 this weekend but in absolutely woeful form.

At the last two ET events he has been bundled out at his first hurdle by Scott Waites and Callan Rydz and he has also sustained back-to-back first-round losses in the last two rounds of Premier League action, averaging a meagre 87 and change in defeat by Gary Anderson in Glasgow on Thursday.

Premier star Wade in wide-open bottom half

The form horse in the bottom half in Leverkusen, therefore, is probably James Wade, a Premier League semi-finalist-in-waiting after a fine Thursday-night campaign and 14/1 to go in in Germany on Sunday evening.

Wade is seeded 14 though seedings haven't counted for a great deal on the European Tour over the last few weeks with exactly half of them - eight of 16 - falling at the first in Austria last weekend and at the previous German Grand Prix in Munich.

And there will probably be no great appetite to be backing the likes of third seed Jose de Sousa or No.15 Krzyzstof Ratajski, for example, neither of whom have hit their straps in '22 and can be given a wide berth at 25/1 and 33/1 respectively.

Ryan Searle, 20/1, and Damon Heta, at 16/1, are two who you might consider though are seeded to meet in round three.

Dimitri van den Bergh is showing a consistency which probably appeals more having reached a floor semi and a floor final already this term, as well as making the last eight at the International Open and last four at the German Darts Championship. Dancing Dimitri is an 18/1 poke.

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