2023 PDC European Championship Preview: Who Will Fulfil Darting Destiny In Dortmund?

Published on 26 October 2023 at 12:45

The Machineseeker European Championship kicks off tonight: with the World Championship at the Alexandra Palace just under two months away, the top 32 seeds from the European Tour will battle it out for one of the final major trophies of the PDC calendar year. Reigning champion Ross Smith is carrying good form heading into the tournament following his recent Players Championship success, will we see another underdog defy the odds in Dortmund this year? Here's our official preview of the opening round of action and what you can expect to see.


The first round promises to deliver some enthralling matches: no.1 seed Dave Chisnall has enjoyed an excellent year on the tour circuit, with 3 event wins on the continent. But a difficult opponent awaits in Chris Dobey, fresh off a stunning win against Michael Van Gerwen at the Grand Slam and a man who often performs better as the underdog in matches, as evidenced in his Masters triumph at the beginning of the year. 


Former World Champions will collide as the reigning World No.1 Michael Smith takes on the legendary Raymond Van Barneveld. Despite qualifying for many major events since his return from retirement, Barney hasn't quite enjoyed the success many want to see him achieve. The same could be said for Michael Smith, who has yet to truly showcase 'World Champion' form quite like his heroics back in January which gave him the honour. 


Previous winners Rob Cross and Michael Van Gerwen open their tournament campaigns against Dimitri Van den Bergh and Madars Razma respectively. With a combined six triumphs combined (split two and four), Van Gerwen in particular will be looking to make history and outright surpass Phil Taylor as the player with the most European Championship tournament wins. 


The beauty of the European Championship is that its seeded format allows for some major shocks and underdog stories to emerge. Defending champion Ross Smith is one such story, breezing his way through last year's competition before narrowly edging out Michael Smith in a tense final. But he comes up against a man who's recently been making waves in the European scene: German star Ricardo Pietreczko, who's coming off the back of victory in the German Darts Championship. Two players with momentum on their side, this is maybe the most difficult tie to call. 


Read More: Top 5 Players From This Year's PDC Tour Events


The partisan German crowd will have more than just Pietreczko to root for this year: as formidable pairing Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler have both qualified for this year's event. 'The Giant' and 'The Wall' kick off their campaigns with games against Peter Wright and Stephen Bunting, and if the duo's form at the World Cup with the Frankfurt crowd behind them was something to behold, the Dortmund crowd will make things truly special. 


And in the other key first round matches, Grand Slam winner and No.2 seed Luke Humphries is looking unstoppable at the moment, and may be too much for Brendan Dolan to handle, even if the Northern Irishman has shown he is more than capable of causing a first round shock in 2023. Gerwyn Price will be taking on Keane Barry, as the long wait for another singles major trophy goes on for the Iceman, who's fighting to retain good tournament form ahead of the Alexandra Palace. And the 2018 tournament winner James Wade faces a difficult test against Dirk Van Duijvenbode.


Who do you think will win the 2023 European Championship? Let us know your favourites to win in Germany over on our official social media channels now!


By Jaspar Shepherdson

(@jasparshepmedia on Instagram and X/Twitter)


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