Rob Cross out to defend his European Championship title while Joe Cullen is top seed

Rob Cross will begin his defence of the European Championship title against Martijn Kleermaker in Oberhausen on Thursday, while Joe Cullen will be the top seed for this year’s event.

The 32-player field for the European Championship was finalised on Sunday following the International Darts Open, which was the fourth European Tour event in a shortened 2020 season.

Victory in Riesa for Cullen, as he picked up the second European Tour win of his career, means he will be the top seed for the European Championship as the winner of the 2020 European Tour Order of Merit.

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The Bradford ace will take on William O’Connor in Thursday’s first round, with the Irish star – a former World Cup finalist – qualifying as 33rd on the European Tour Order of Merit, with Glen Durrant absent following his positive COVID-19 test last week.

Cross will be the 13th seed as he defends the title he claimed in 2019, taking on Kleermaker as the Dutchman makes a European Championship debut in his maiden year on the PDC circuit.

Four-time European Champion Michael van Gerwen, the fifth seed, will take on debutant Darius Labanauskas, while 2018 winner James Wade comes up against Ireland’s Steve Lennon.

Gerwyn Price, the second seed after winning the Belgian Darts Championship earlier this year, will play Kim Huybrechts as he bids to go one better than his run to the final in the 2019 European Championship.

Last weekend’s European Darts Grand Prix winner Jose De Sousa will play Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan, while German Darts Championship winner Devon Petersen takes on Andy Hamilton, who makes his first European Championship appearance since 2014.

Ross Smith, who knocked out Van Gerwen in the 2019 European Championship, will play Michael Smith in round one of this year’s event after qualifying through his run to the quarter-finals in Riesa on Sunday.

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Former finalist Mensur Suljovic plays Daryl Gurney, while Premier League runner-up Nathan Aspinall meets debutant Maik Kuivenhoven.

An all-Dutch tie sees Danny Noppert play World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode, and World Champion Peter Wright takes on Germany’s Gabriel Clemens.

Another home favourite, former semi-finalist Max Hopp, will come up against Jonny Clayton, Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski plays Steve West, Mervyn King takes on Ian White and Jamie Hughes will face Dave Chisnall.

European Championship

October 29-November 1, König Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen

(1) Joe Cullen v (32) William O’Connor
(16) Jamie Hughes v (17) Dave Chisnall
(8) Nathan Aspinall v (25) Maik Kuivenhoven
(9) James Wade v (24) Steve Lennon
(4) Devon Petersen v (29) Andy Hamilton
(13) Rob Cross v (20) Martijn Kleermaker
(5) Michael van Gerwen v (28) Darius Labanauskas
(12) Mervyn King v (21) Ian White
(2) Gerwyn Price v (31) Kim Huybrechts
(15) Peter Wright v (18) Gabriel Clemens
(7) Mensur Suljovic v (26) Daryl Gurney
(10) Krzysztof Ratajski v (23) Steve West
(3) Jose De Sousa v (30) Jeffrey de Zwaan
(14) Jonny Clayton v (19) Max Hopp
(6) Michael Smith v (27) Ross Smith
(11) Danny Noppert v (22) Dirk van Duijvenbode

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