Michael van Gerwen will be top seed as he prepares to defend his European Championship title later this month, but five of the world’s top ten will be absent from this year’s event after the field was confirmed following the conclusion of the 2017 European Tour in Gottingen.
Van Gerwen defeated Rob Cross 6-4 in Gottingen to clinch his sixth European Tour title of the year- the 20th of his career. Heading into the weekend, he and Peter Wright had both won five Euro titles apiece this year, with Michael Smith also winning one. However, MvG’s triumph ensures he will begin his assault for a fourth straight title as top seed.
The Unibet European Championship will be held from October 26th-29th at the Ethias Arena in Hasselt, Belgium, televised live on ITV4, with the top eight players from the 32-man field seeded in the draw.
Nevertheless, due to the qualification criteria implemented in 2016, five of the world’s top ten will not be featuring in Hasselt. The field is comprised of the top 32 players from the European Tour Order of Merit, which is solely based on prize money won in the twelve European tour events held during 2017.
World number two Gary Anderson and 16-time world champion Phil Taylor will be two of the high-profile absentees in Belgium. Anderson has not competed in any of the 12 events held this year, and neither has ‘The Power’, as he completely scales down his commitments ahead of his impending retirement in January 2018.
Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis also failed to qualify for this event for the second straight year. Van Barneveld reached the quarter-finals of April’s German Darts Masters in his solitary Euro Tour appearance this year, whilst 2013 winner Lewis failed to go beyond the last 16 in any of his three appearances.
Elsewhere, James Wade will also miss out on his first televised ranking major since 2006. ‘The Machine’ has slipped to tenth on the PDC Order of Merit and needed to reach the last 16 in Gottingen to qualify for the European Championship. However, his hopes were quashed after he was thrashed 6-1 by Nathan Aspinall in the first-round.
Despite this, there will still be an array of talent on show in Belgium. UK Open champion Peter Wright will be second seed after winning five European Tour titles this year, whilst Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner Michael Smith- a four-time Euro Tour winner, is seeded third.
Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic- runner-up in last year’s event, is fourth seed, closely followed by Jelle Klaasen- who reached the quarter-finals or better in six of the twelve European events held this year. Meanwhile, two-time Rob Cross is sixth seed, having enjoyed a stunning debut season on the Pro Tour.
The last remaining seeds include two-time Pro Tour winner Joe Cullen and 2012 champion Simon Whitlock, who sat just above European Tour finalists Dave Chisnall and Benito van de Pas, as well as home favourite Kim Huybrechts on the final Order of Merit tables.
World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney will be vying for a second consecutive major TV title in Hasselt, whilst European Darts Open finalist Mervyn King competes in this tournament for the tenth successive year.
UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price will be hoping to boost his Premier League aspirations with a strong showing in Belgium, whilst Spanish star Cristo Reyes and seven-time PDC ranking winner Ian White complete the top 16 on the European Tour Order of Merit.
Former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting will be aiming to continue his resurgence, whilst BDO World Masters champion Krzysztof Ratajski, who has been a revelation on the Euro Tour in 2017, will become the first Polish participant in this tournament’s history.
Former European Tour winners Alan Norris and Vincent van der Voort will also be hopeful of a strong showing, whilst German World Cup star Martin Schindler will make his debut in this competition. Former Lakeside world champion Christian Kist will also be in action, as will recent World Grand Prix semi-finalist John Henderson.
There are also a host of other debutants set to feature in this year’s tournament. Home favourite Dimitri van den Bergh, former World-Youth finalist Nathan Aspinall and Dutch star Jan Dekker are all set to make their bows in Hasselt, as are 2017 Pro Tour winners Darren Webster and Jonny Clayton, who sneaked into the final two qualification spots.
The other participants include Auckland Darts Masters winner Kyle Anderson, 2009 European Championship finalist Steve Beaton, 2013 semi-finalist Ronny Huybrechts and James Richardson- making his second consecutive appearance in this competition, having reached the last 16 here twelve months ago.
Nevertheless, some players agonisingly missed out on qualification. Former BDO number one James Wilson was denied a spot via countback, whilst talented left-hander Chris Quantock was just £1,000 shy of sealing a debut in Belgium. Elsewhere, former World-Youth champions Keegan Brown and Max Hopp also narrowly missed the cut-off.
Other established names to miss out include Justin Pipe, Steve West, former Lakeside world champion Mark Webster and two-time PDC major winner Robert Thornton. The full list of participants for the 2017 European Championship can be viewed below, and the draw will be announced in the coming days.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2017 Unibet European Championship- Seeded Players
1. Michael van Gerwen
2. Peter Wright
3. Michael Smith
4. Mensur Suljovic
5. Jelle Klaasen
6. Rob Cross
7. Joe Cullen
8. Simon Whitlock
9. Dave Chisnall
10. Benito van de Pas
11. Kim Huybrechts
12. Daryl Gurney
13. Mervyn King
14. Gerwyn Price
15. Cristo Reyes
16. Ian White
17. Stephen Bunting
18. Krzysztof Ratajski
19. Alan Norris
20. Vincent van der Voort
21. Martin Schindler
22. Christian Kist
23. John Henderson
24. Kyle Anderson
25. Dimitri van den Bergh
26. Steve Beaton
27. Nathan Aspinall
28. Ronny Huybrechts
29. Jan Dekker
30. James Richardson
31. Darren Webster
32. Jonny Clayton