Top class PDC darts makes a return to free-to-air television from July 4-7 as the sixth staging of the partypoker.net European Championship takes place in Germany, live on ITV4 and PDC.tv.
Australia’s Simon Whitlock will open the defence of his title against Belgian ace Kim Huybrechts when the tournament is held at Muelheim’s RWE Sporthalle, located to the west of the country where the popularity of darts is growing year-on-year.
The ‘Wizard’ Whitlock claimed the first major TV title of his career when he defeated Wes Newton in last year’s final, also held in Muelheim, having overcome Huybrechts 11-9 in the semi-finals.
The Belgian will get the chance to avenge that loss when they meet in the first round of this year’s tournament, after being drawn with the number five seed.
Newton, the world number seven, will face Holland’s Jelle Klaasen in the first round, while world number one Phil Taylor – a four-time European Champion – drew another Dutch ace, Vincent van der Voort.
Michael van Gerwen, seeded two, will meet Belgium’s Kurt Van De Rijck, while world number three Adrian Lewis plays Austria’s Mensur Suljovic.
Number four seed James Wade takes on former finalist Mark Webster in another tasty first round clash. Gary Anderson, who was due to play Wade, withdrew through illness, allowing Welshman Webster to step in.
Also in action in the opening round, Andy Hamilton plays Terry Jenkins and Raymond van Barneveld meets German hope Tomas Seyler.
The event’s other German qualifier, teenager Max Hopp, will mark his European Championship debut against Paul Nicholson, while Saturday’s Players Championship winner Peter Wright was drawn against Colin Lloyd.
Canada’s three-time world champion John Part drew Kevin Painter, Robert Thornton meets Brendan Dolan – who became the first man to beat Phil Taylor in the tournament’s short history last year.
Recent PDC newcomer Stuart Kellett takes on Ronny Huybrechts, Jamie Caven plays Dave Chisnall, Ronnie Baxter plays Mervyn King and Justin Pipe drew Finland’s Jani Haavisto, the Scandinavian Order of Merit leader.
The top 16 players in the PDC Order of Merit qualify by right for the tournament, with the top eight seeded in the first round, which takes place over the first two nights of the competition.
The second round is split across two sessions on Saturday, July 6, with the quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon before the tournament concludes with the semi-finals and final on Sunday evening.
ITV Sport will broadcast selected live coverage of the 2013 PDC European Championship in Muelheim.
It is the third time that ITV has covered this relatively recent addition to the PDC’s annual calendar, having shown the inaugural event in 2008 and again in 2011. Last year’s tournament was shown on ESPN.
Matt Smith will introduce ITV4’s coverage across each of the four days. He will be joined for analysis and comment by former PDC professionals Alan Warriner-Little and Chris Mason. John Rawling and Stuart Pyke lead the commentary team.
With ITV4 committed to screening coverage of the Tour de France, a bulk of ITV’s live darts coverage from Muelheim will be shown online via the PDC website (subscription required).
For all four evening sessions, fans can watch the first hour of play online via PDC.TV from 7.00pm-8.00pm. Live TV coverage begins on ITV4 each night at 8.00pm, running through until the close of play at approximately 11.00pm.
At the weekend, as both afternoon sessions clash with ITV4’s live Tour de France output, live darts will be shown in its entirety on PDC.TV from 1pm-5pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
All of ITV4’s live coverage will be available to watch in high-definition on ITV4 HD.
Commenting on the Tour de France/darts clash, ITV’s Chris Mason said on Twitter: “The chance for ITV to broadcast the European Championship was a last minute decision, the cycling is well established on the channel and just unfortunate the broadcast clashes.
“If it was the other way around I’m sure the cycling fans would be pissed off but I’m sure next years dates are sorted.”
The 2013 European Championship is the first tournament covered by a new three-year deal between ITV and the PDC for live coverage of selected events on the tour, including the UK Open from 2014 and a new Masters tournament.
Commenting on the ITV deal, PDC chairman Barry Hearn said: “We’re delighted that ITV have made such a significant commitment to the PDC, and to the sport of darts, with this three-year, four-event deal.”
“They have a great enthusiasm for top-level sport, and in these four tournaments they see the best players in darts competing in major championships.”
FormatRound 1 – Best of 11 legs Round 2 – Best of 19 legs Quarter Finals – Best of 19 legs Semi Finals – Best of 21 legs Final – Best of 21 legs
Thursday 4th July Evening Session | Round 1
LIVE: 8.00pm-11.00pm ITV4 / 7.00pm-11.00pm PDC.TV Stuart Kellett 3-6 Ronny Huybrechts Jamie Caven 6-0 Dave Chisnall
Colin Lloyd 6-4 Peter Wright
Robert Thornton 6-2 Brendan Dolan
Simon Whitlock 6-4 Kim Huybrechts
Phil Taylor 6-3 Vincent van der Voort
Raymond van Barneveld 6-1 Tomas Seyler
James Wade 6-2 Mark Webster Friday 5th July Evening Session | Round 1 LIVE: 8.00pm-11.00pm ITV4 / 7.00pm-11.00pm PDC.TV Jani Haavisto 3-6 Justin Pipe
Max Hopp 4-6 Paul Nicholson
Andy Hamilton 6-5 Terry Jenkins
Ronnie Baxter 5-6 Mervyn King
Wes Newton 4-6 Jelle Klaasen
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Kurt Van De Rijck
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Mensur Suljovic
Kevin Painter 6-4 John Part Saturday 6th July Afternoon Session | Round 2 LIVE: 1.00pm-5.00pm PDC.TV Jelle Klaasen 10-6 Justin Pipe
Andy Hamilton 10-8 Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock 10-6 Colin Lloyd
James Wade 2-10 Jamie Caven Evening Session | Round 2 LIVE: 8.00pm-11.00pm ITV4 / 7.00pm-11.00pm PDC.TV Adrian Lewis 10-4 Kevin Painter
Raymond van Barneveld 9-10 Robert Thornton
Phil Taylor 5-10 Ronny Huybrechts
Michael van Gerwen 10-3 Mervyn King Sunday 7th July Afternoon Session | Quarter Finals LIVE: 1.00pm-5.00pm PDC.TV
Ronny Huybrechts 10-9 Robert Thornton Simon Whitlock 10-9 Jamie Caven Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Jelle Klaasen Andy Hamilton 3-10 Adrian Lewis Evening Session | Semi Finals & Final LIVE: 8.00pm-11.00pm ITV4 / 7.00pm-11.00pm PDC.TV Semi-Finals
Ronny Huybrechts v Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
Huybrechts/Whitlock v van Gerwen/Lewis