THE fourth PartyPoker.net European Championship begins at the Maritim Hotel in Dusseldorf on Thursday, with Phil Taylor aiming to retain his unbeaten record in the tournament.

Taylor has won the previous three stagings of the European Championship since the tournament was introduced in 2008, defeating Adrian Lewis, Steve Beaton and Wayne Jones in the respective finals.

The 50-year-old from Stoke has drawn debutant qualifier John Michael, a Greek player who will be making his first televised appearance, in Thursday’s first round, with the game over the best of 11 legs.

Taylor retained his World Matchplay title for a fourth successive year in Blackpool last week, defeating James Wade in the final, and is targeting a repeat of that success in the ITV4-televised event in Germany.

“I was delighted to win the World Matchplay and my target now is to keep hold of the European Championship title too,” said Taylor, who is unbeaten in 15 previous matches in the event.

“I’ve enjoyed this event for the last three years and it’s my plan to make it four in a row.

“I don’t know much about John but I’ve seen him a couple of times and he’s a good player. In a short format I know I’ll have to be on top of my game on Thursday and will have to start well.”

The PDC’s top 16 players are joined by eight Players Championship Order of Merit qualifiers and eight European Order of Merit qualifiers in the event, with Greek ace Michael earning his place by virtue of his displays in Players Championships held in Germany, Austria and Holland earlier this year.

Thursday’s eight first round games feature the 16 players in the top half of the draw, and include world number four Gary Anderson up against Derby’s Jamie Caven, a quarter-finalist in last year’s European Championship.

Simon Whitlock, the number five seed, takes on Austria’s Mensur Suljovic as he looks to bounce back from his quarter-final defeat to Andy Hamilton in the World Matchplay, which saw him lose nine successive legs from 15-8 up to lose 17-15.

The night also features a clash between the players ranked eighth and ninth in the world, Mark Webster and Terry Jenkins – who was a semi-finalist in last year’s European Championship.

The tournament will open when Mervyn King plays Dutch ace Co Stompe, while Justin Pipe meets Paul Nicholson, Alan Tabern faces Colin Lloyd – also a semi-finalist in the 2010 European Championship – and Canada’s three-time World Champion John Part takes on Peter Wright.

Friday sees World Champion Adrian Lewis take on Vincent van der Voort, having defeated the Dutchman 13-5 in the second round of the World Matchplay, while number three seed James Wade takes on Magnus Caris.

Wade won June’s UK Open and was the runner-up in the World Matchplay, and said: “I’ve been in good form recently but I can’t take anything for granted because Magnus is a good player with a lot of experience, and I have to make sure I perform well on Friday.”

Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld takes on Andy Hamilton, who reached the semi-finals of the World Matchplay last week in a return to form which saw him move back into the world’s top 16 and qualify for the European Championship.

Wes Newton is the other seeded player in the bottom half of the draw, having risen to seventh in the world following his quarter-final appearance in the World Matchplay.

The in-form Fleetwood ace takes on Andy Smith in the first round, having defeated the same opponent 10-2 in his opener in Blackpool recently, but said: “It will be a different game on Thursday and I’m expecting a tough test from Andy.

“He’s been playing well this year and is very dangerous in the short format, but I’m happy with how I’m playing and looking forward to it.”

Friday also sees Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts make his debut in a major TV event when he plays Spain’s emerging Antonio Alcinas, with both players having performed well in the European-based events this year.

Dutch pair Jelle Klaasen and Michael van Gerwen take on Dave Chisnall and Ronnie Baxter respectively, while last year’s runner-up Wayne Jones meets Mark Walsh.

The second round of the £200,000 event will be played across two sessions on Saturday, with the quarter-finals taking place on Sunday afternoon and both the semi-finals and final being played on Sunday evening in one dramatic session.

Coverage of the PartyPoker.net European Championship is live in the UK on ITV4, and will also be screened live in LIVEPDC.TV for International Pass Subscribers.

PartyPoker.net European Championship
First Round Schedule of Play
Thursday July 28
8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm BST

Mervyn King v Co Stompe
Alan Tabern v Colin Lloyd
John Part v Peter Wright
Justin Pipe v Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock v Mensur Suljovic
Phil Taylor v John Michael
Mark Webster v Terry Jenkins
Gary Anderson v Jamie Caven

Friday July 29
8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm BST

Wayne Jones v Mark Walsh
Jelle Klaasen v Dave Chisnall
Ronnie Baxter v Michael van Gerwen
Kim Huybrechts v Antonio Alcinas
James Wade v Magnus Caris
Adrian Lewis v Vincent van der Voort
Wes Newton v Andy Smith
Raymond van Barneveld v Andy Hamilton

ENDS

Further Information:
Tournament Draw Bracket
Phil Taylor (1, ENG) v John Michael (GRE)
Mervyn King (ENG) v Co Stompe (NED)
Mark Webster (8, WAL) v Terry Jenkins (ENG)
Justin Pipe (ENG) v Paul Nicholson (AUS)
Simon Whitlock (5, AUS) v Mensur Suljovic (AUT)
Alan Tabern (ENG) v Colin Lloyd (ENG)
Gary Anderson (4, SCO) v Jamie Caven (ENG)
John Part (CAN) v Peter Wright (ENG)
Adrian Lewis (2, ENG) v Vincent van der Voort (NED)
Jelle Klaasen (NED) v Dave Chisnall (ENG)
Wes Newton (7, ENG) v Andy Smith (ENG)
Kim Huybrechts (BEL) v Antonio Alcinas (ESP)
Raymond van Barneveld (6, NED) v Andy Hamilton (ENG)
Wayne Jones (ENG) v Mark Walsh (ENG)
James Wade (3, ENG) v Magnus Caris (SWE)
Ronnie Baxter (ENG) v Michael van Gerwen (NED)

Schedule of Play (times local, BST+1)
Thursday July 28
First Round
8.05pm Mervyn King v Co Stompe
8.35pm Alan Tabern v Colin Lloyd
9.05pm John Part v Peter Wright
9.35pm Justin Pipe v Paul Nicholson
10.05pm Simon Whitlock v Mensur Suljovic
10.35pm Phil Taylor v John Michael
11.05pm Mark Webster v Terry Jenkins
11.35pm Gary Anderson v Jamie Caven

Friday July 29
First Round
8.05pm Wayne Jones v Mark Walsh
8.35pm Jelle Klaasen v Dave Chisnall
9.05pm Ronnie Baxter v Michael van Gerwen
9.35pm Kim Huybrechts v Antonio Alcinas
10.05pm James Wade v Magnus Caris
10.35pm Adrian Lewis v Vincent van der Voort
11.05pm Wes Newton v Andy Smith
11.35pm Raymond van Barneveld v Andy Hamilton

Saturday July 30
Second Round
2.10pm Whitlock/Suljovic v Tabern/Lloyd
3.10pm Webster/Jenkins v Pipe/Nicholson
4.10pm Taylor/Michael v King/Stompe
5.10pm Anderson/Caven v Part/Wright

8.10pm Newton/Smith v Huybrechts/Alcinas
9.10pm Lewis/van der Voort v Klaasen/Chisnall
10.10pm Wade/Caris v Baxter/van Gerwen
11.10pm van Barneveld/Hamilton v Jones/Walsh

Sunday July 31
Quarter-Finals
2pm onwards
Order TBC

Semi-Finals
8pm onwards
Order TBC

Final
Approx 10.30pm

Format
First Round – Best of 11 legs
Second Round – Best of 19 legs
Quarter-Finals – Best of 19 legs
Semi-Finals – Best of 21 legs
Final – Best of 21 legs

Prize Fund
Winner £50,000
Runner-Up £20,000
Semi-Finalists £10,000
Quarter-Finalists £7,500
Second Round Losers £5,000
First Round Losers £2,500
Total £200,000
NB – there is no bonus for a nine-dart finish

Previous Winners
2008 – Phil Taylor defeated Adrian Lewis 11-5 (Frankfurt, Germany)
2009 – Phil Taylor defeated Steve Beaton 11-3 (Hoofddorp, Holland)
2010 – Phil Taylor defeated Wayne Jones 11-1 (Dinslaken, Germany)

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