European Championship - PDC preview
The £200,000 European Championship begins on Thursday night at the Claus Event Center in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands.
Reigning champion Phil Taylor is amongst 32 players to line up in the tournament, which is the second staging of the European Championship.
Taylor took last year's title with an 11-5 win over Adrian Lewis in the final in Frankfurt but suffered defeat in his last competitive outing - losing to Colin Osborne in the final of Championship League Darts last Thursday.
He begins his bid to hold on to the £50,000 title against 21-year-old Toon Greebe, from Den Bosch in the Netherlands, on Thursday night.
"I was disappointed to lose in the Championship League Darts final but the good thing at the moment is that there is always another big event coming up.
"This is the next one and I'll put that defeat behind me and focus on playing Toon. He's a very good young player and it's only the best of 11 in the first round, so it's a tough start."
Thursday also sees a number of high-profile clashes, including world number four John Part against Colin Lloyd, Wayne Jones against the Netherlands' Jelle Klaasen and Dutch ace Co Stompé against Gary Anderson.
Scottish star Anderson admitted: "It's a hard game first but that's the same for everyone and I'd have another four hard games if I go on to win the event.
"I played Co last weekend in a Players Championship event and I won 6-2, so if it goes like that on Thursday I'll be delighted!"
Number eight seed Ronnie Baxter meets Andy Smith, in-form Wes Newton takes on Scotland's Robert Thornton and the event is opened by the meeting of world number five Terry Jenkins and emerging star Jamie Caven.
Roland Scholten's clash with Mensur Suljovic gives him a chance to avenge a 5-1 defeat to the Austrian in last year's event, when a shoulder injury saw the Dutch ace struggling to throw.
Friday sees the remaining eight first round games take place, including the Netherlands' five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld against two-time world champion Dennis Priestley.
World number three James Wade takes on fellow left-hander Alan Tabern, while number six seed Mervyn King meets Spanish ace Carlos Rodriguez.
Many eyes will also be on the all-Dutch battle between Vincent van der Voort and Michael van Gerwen, close friends who both practice together and travel on the circuit together.
"We always travel together and he's important for me," admits 20-year-old Van Gerwen. "He has more experience than me and we always work together and help each other out.
"We always help each other and try to do the best for both of us, so it does make it a little difficult now we have to play each other, but I have to forget that."
World number seven Adrian Lewis takes on Steve Beaton, who ended an eight-year gap without a tournament victory by winning last Saturday's Players Championship in Nuland.
Colin Osborne faces Paul Nicholson, Kevin Painter meets Mark Walsh and Andy Hamilton takes on Dutch qualifier Remco van Eijden in the night's other game.
The second round of the European Championship will be held on Saturday across two sessions, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final held on Sunday.
Copy courtesy of Dave Allen, PDC Media Officer
Picture courtesy of Lawrence Lustig, PDC