The European Championships is kicking off and three of last year’s four semi-finalists are involved in our 8/1 first round accumulator, with one of them fancied to potentially bid the crowd at Frankfurt’s RWE Sporthalle farewell after his first outing.
In a battle of two of the game’s more questionable nicknames Robert ‘the Thorn’ Thornton starts off a short priced favourite against Brendan ‘the History Maker’ Dolan, but the Northern Irishman is fancied to make a mockery of the odds at a tournament where he reached the semi-finals last year.
No beneficiary of a benevolent draw on that occasion, the Belcoo, County Fermanagh darter was the man that finally ended Phil Taylor’s four-year unbeaten run at this tournament.
Having been in no more than average form of late – an affliction he shares with Thornton – Dolan seems to have saved his best for the majors in recent campaigns, posting career best performances in six of the nine “biggies” during the last two years. As a result he’s taken to progress at his rival’s expense, levelling their career head-to-head at 3-3 in the process.
The former European champion Dolan deposed last year can join him in round two by continuing his fine form of the last month, in which he has added the Gibraltar Darts Trophy and the UK Open to his world-silver-stock depleting trophy cabinet.
The man they know simply as ‘the Power’ should win well in this mood – having whitewashed Steve Beaton and seen off Dave Chisnall 6-2 on his way to glory on ‘the Rock’ – and he can defy a -3.5 leg handicap against his first chapter dance-partner Vincent Van Der Voort in doing so.
Defending champion Simon Whitlock is ultra-focussed on retaining the title which he regards as his greatest achievement in darts to date, but he’s been dealt a tough hand from the off this year courtesy of an opening round encounter with Kim ‘Hurricane’ Huybrechts, the young Belgian darter who pushed him so close in last year’s semis.
Huybrechts has improved has been rapidly improving as a player since that 11-9 reverse and has won two of the pair’s three subsequent meetings. Given both of those successes came by a tally of six legs to three, he’s well worth backing to leave ‘the Wizard’ spellbound in the first round, especially with a +1.5 game handicap insurance policy.
European Championships first round selections
Brendan Dolan to beat Robert Thornton @ 13/8
Phil Taylor (-3.5 Legs) to beat Vincent Van Der Voort @ evens
Kim Huybrechts (+1.5 legs) to beat Simon Whitlock @ 8/13
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.