THE inaugural PartyPoker.net European Championship begins on Thursday night in Frankfurt, with 32 players competing for the £50,000 winner’s cheque.

The new event, the eighth major ranking event on the PDC circuit, will be televised live on ITV4 from the Südbahnhof from Thursday-Sunday.

World number one Phil Taylor will be bidding to claim a fourth successive televised title, having won the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic, Stan James World Matchplay and Sky Poker World Grand Prix since June.

Taylor takes on Ireland’s Jacko Barry in the first round on Thursday night in the best-of-nine leg first round.

“It’s a big tournament,” said Taylor. “It’s always exciting to break into new countries and there are lots of good things happening with professional darts in Germany at the moment.

“The first round’s a short format and I’ll have to be on my guard from the off. Jacko’s still new on the circuit but is a very good player.”

Barry came through a qualifier last Sunday to win one of the final two places in the field alongside Andy Jenkins – who drew world number two Raymond van Barneveld.

James Wade, June’s Blue Square UK Open champion in the only major tournament not won by Taylor this year, takes on Watford’s Alex Roy on Friday night, with the first round split over two sessions.

Spanish newcomer Carlos Rodriguez takes on world number five Terry Jenkins in only his second televised appearance, after qualifying for the UK Open earlier this year.

German number two Andree Welge faces Wayne Mardle, while World Champion John Part is also in action on the opening night, when he takes on Scottish star Robert Thornton.

Van Barneveld and Wade head up the second night’s play, which also includes the tasty clashes between Colin Lloyd and Jelle Klaasen and Peter Manley’s duel with Kevin Painter.

“I was very pleased to get to the final of the World Grand Prix after two months out and feel I’m playing well going into the European Championship,” said van Barneveld.

“I’ve worked hard recently in practice and am building towards the Grand Slam of Darts and World Championship, and this is an important event.

“I feel comfortable with the legs format but it’s a dangerous format in the first round, it’s very short. I have to be very focused in every game but especially in the first round.”

Wade was a first round victim in the recent World Grand Prix, losing the opening game of the defence of his title to Tony Eccles.

“I’ve picked up three major titles before and would love to make it number four in the European Championship,” said Wade.

“I’ve lost in a few finals to Phil Taylor this year but it’s my challenge to get there in Frankfurt and hopefully make amends.

“Alex Roy’s been playing really well, he won a tournament in Scotland a couple of weeks ago, and it will be tough in the first round but I’m enjoying my darts and looking forward to it.”

Saturday will see the last 16 meet, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final of the £200,000 tournament being held on Sunday.

European Championship Draw & Bracket
Phil Taylor (1) v Jacko Barry
Mervyn King v Wayne Jones
Wayne Mardle (8) v Andree Welge
Colin Osborne v Mark Walsh
Terry Jenkins (5) v Carlos Rodriguez
Ronnie Baxter v Vincent van der Voort
John Part (4) v Robert Thornton
Roland Scholten v Mensur Suljovic
Raymond van Barneveld (2) v Andy Jenkins
Dennis Priestley v Jan van der Rassel
Andy Hamilton (7) v Denis Ovens
Adrian Lewis v Hannes Schnier
Colin Lloyd (6) v Jelle Klaasen
Alan Tabern v Chris Mason
James Wade (3) v Alex Roy
Peter Manley v Kevin Painter

European Championship Schedule of Play (all times local, GMT is -1 hour)
Thursday October 30
Round One (Best of nine legs)
6.45pm Colin Osborne v Mark Walsh
7.20pm Mervyn King v Wayne Jones
7.55pm Terry Jenkins v Carlos Rodriguez
8.30pm Wayne Mardle v Andree Welge
9.05pm Phil Taylor v Jacko Barry
9.40pm John Part v Robert Thornton
10.15pm Roland Scholten v Mensur Suljovic
10.50pm Ronnie Baxter v Vincent van der Voort

Friday October 31
Round One (Best of nine legs)
6.45pm Andy Hamilton v Denis Ovens
7.20pm Dennis Priestley v Jan van der Rassel
7.55pm Adrian Lewis v Hannes Schnier
8.30pm Colin Lloyd v Jelle Klaasen
9.05pm Raymond van Barneveld v Andy Jenkins
9.40pm James Wade v Alex Roy
10.15pm Alan Tabern v Chris Mason
10.50pm Peter Manley v Kevin Painter

Saturday November 1
Round Two – (Best of 17 legs)
1.10pm T Jenkins/Rodriguez v Baxter/van der Voort
2.00pm Hamilton/Ovens v Lewis/Schnier
3.00pm Part/Thornton v Scholten/Suljovic
6.50pm Lloyd/Klaasen v Tabern/Mason
7.40pm Wade/Roy v Manley/Painter
8.40pm Taylor/Barry v King/Jones
9.40pm van Barneveld/A Jenkins v Priestley/van der Rassel
10.40pm Mardle/Welge v Osborne/Walsh

Sunday November 2
Quarter Finals (Best of 17 legs)
2.10pm T Jenkins/Rodriguez/Baxter/van der Voort v Part/Thornton/Scholten/Suljovic
3.10pm Taylor/Barry/King/Jones v Mardle/Welge/Osborne/Walsh
4.10pm van Barneveld/A Jenkins/Priestley/van der Rassel v Hamilton/Ovens/Lewis/Schnier
5.10pm Lloyd/Klaasen/Tabern/Mason v Wade/Roy/Manley/Painter

Semi Finals & Final (Best of 21 legs)
Semi-Finals
7.15pm 8.30pm

Final
10.15pm

Please Note: All times subject to amendment.

Prize Fund
Winner £50,000
Runner-Up £25,000
Semi-Finalists £12,500
Quarter-Finalists £8,500
Second Round Losers £4,000
First Round Losers £2,000
High Checkout £2,000
Total £200,000

Format
First Round – Best of nine legs
Second Round – Best of 17 legs
Quarter-Finals – Best of 17 legs
Semi-Finals – Best of 21 legs
Final – Best of 21 legs
Tie-Break Rule: Each game must be won by two clear legs. A game will go to a sudden-death leg if a further maximum of six legs cannot separate the players, i.e. if a first round game reaches 7-7.

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