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European Matchplay Darts preview: Spots up for grabs on the Seaside

The race is on for qualification for the World Matchplay in Blackpool on 15th July and the European Matchplay is the last event before the cut-off for the prestigious Winter Gardens event.

The Euro Tour heads to the Trier Arena in south west Germany and there is £175,000 in crucial prize money as the likes of Simon Whitlock, Luke Woodhouse and Madars Razma bid to move into the qualification spots for the World Matchplay. 

Gerwyn Price and Jim Williams are the big absentees in Germany, but Michael van Gerwen, Michael Smith, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Danny Noppert, Dimitri van den Bergh and Luke Humphries are all in action in Trier. 

Van Gerwen is a three-time winner of the European Matchplay and the Green Machine is the 3/1 favourite to land another Euro Tour crown. 

WhatEuropean Matchplay
WhereTrier Arena, Germany
WhenFriday, 30th June - Sunday 2nd July
How to watch bet365 Sports Live Streaming & PDC TV
OddsMichael van Gerwen 3/1, Michael Smith 11/2, Jonny Clayton 17/2, Josh Rock 9/1, Luke Humphries 12/1

Playing for a place at Blackpool 

The European Matchplay is a good-level tournament in its own right, but the Euro Tour 10 event is the last competition before the World Matchplay qualification cut off. 

The top-16 of the world rankings are awarded a spot at the Winter Gardens and all but James Wade are assured of their place in Blackpool. Wade would still be handed a place at the World Matchplay via the Pro Tour rankings and that is where the qualification interest is held. 

Steve Beaton is 14th best on the ranking system, but the North Walsham thrower is absent in Trier. However, the Bronzed Adonis and Raymond van Barneveld have a small cushion over those below them in the standings. 

Kim Huybrechts and Brendan Dolan sit in the final two qualification spots and they have a slim advantage over the likes of William O'Connor, Whitlock, Woodhouse and Razma. There’s likely to be plenty of thrills and spills in the race for a World Matchplay spot this weekend. 

What’s on the line in Germany

As well as a Euro Tour title, there’s a total prize fund of £175,000 on the line at Trier Arena and that money converts to crucial ranking points. 

There are 16 qualifiers, with the winners of those matches guaranteed £1,250 for reaching round two. 

The top-16 arrowsmiths automatically receive £2,500, but they must win their first game in the second-round for the prize money to count towards the rankings. 

It’s a minimum of £12,500 for reaching the final, the winner will pocket a cool £30,000 and that prize money could prove crucial in the race for the World Matchplay. 

Drawing conclusions 

There’s no Price in the field this weekend, but top arrowsmiths Van Gerwen, Jonny Clayton, Michael Smith, Josh Rock and Van den Bergh are all making the trip to Germany. 

As always with the Euro Tour events the draw is key, and with seeded runners Van Gerwen, Smith, Van Duijvenbode and Rock housed in the top-half, and joined by World Championship semi-final Gabriel Clemens and five-time world champion Van Barneveld, the bottom section looks the place to play. 

Damon Heta is developing into a pretty prolific winner and the Aussie could go well at 25/1

The Heat won a Player Championship event in Hildesheim earlier this year, the Perth thrower captured the Gibraltar Darts Trophy, two PTC events and the World Cup with Australia last term and Heta is in the top-16 on the Pro Tour averages this campaign. 

A second-round tie against either Gian van Veen or Christian Kist looks winnable and there are major question marks over the big-hitters in the second section of the draw. 

Clayton, Nathan Aspinall, Humphries and Rob Cross are all shorter than Heta in the betting, but they are a quartet with plenty to prove and the Heat looks a value each-way play in Germany.

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