Spectacular Schindler Steals the Show

Red Dragon Darts


Martin Schindler began his bid for back-to-back European Tour titles with a sensational first round display at the NEO.bet European Darts Grand Prix on Friday, as Luke Littler also impressed on Day One in Sindelfingen.

Schindler lifted his first PDC title at last weekend’s International Darts Open, and Germany’s new number one maintained his sparkling form to dump out European Championship semi-finalist Gian van Veen.

There was nothing to separate the pair after four legs, but Schindler stole a march in the latter stages, reeling off four straight legs in 13, 12, 14 and 12 darts to triumph with a 108.82 average.

“I’m so happy with that performance, but tomorrow is a different day,” insisted Schindler, who now faces reigning champion Rob Cross for a place in the last 16.

“Rob is one of the best players in the world. He’s a Premier League participant, so like today, I’m going to be warned about what he’s capable of.

“I am just focused on my game, and if I’m able to play like I can, I might have a chance!”

Friday’s first round saw 16 matches take place across two sessions at the Glaspalast, with Littler marking his European Tour return with a six-leg blitz of debutant Arno Merk.

Littler – a winner at last month’s Belgian Darts Open – averaged 101 and conjured up 146 and 148 checkouts to advance to a mouth-watering clash against Luke Humphries, in a repeat of January’s World Championship decider.

However, Peter Wright was one of three former champions to crash out on the opening day of the tournament, as the Scot paid the price for squandering two match darts in a last-leg shoot-out against Mickey Mansell.

2019 winner Ian White suffered a chastening 6-1 defeat to Chris Dobey, while 2020 champion Jose de Sousa was swept aside by Daryl Gurney, who wrapped up proceedings with a marvellous 124 finish.

German number two Gabriel Clemens kicked off his campaign with a crushing 6-1 win over his compatriot Rene Eidams, with Stephen Bunting dispatching Croatia’s Romeo Grbavac by the same scoreline.

Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld delivered a finishing masterclass to open his account on the 2024 European Tour, producing 148, 136 and 128 finishes to seal a 6-2 victory against Franz Roetzsch.

European Darts Grand Prix 2024

Roetzsch also landed 116 and 121 combinations in a contest which featured five ton-plus checkouts, but it was Van Barneveld who progressed to a tie against 2023 World Champion Michael Smith.

Ritchie Edhouse – a quarter-finalist in Riesa last weekend – celebrated his 41st birthday with a 6-2 drubbing of James Wade, averaging 103 and crashing in five 180s in the process.

Earlier in the day, Sweden’s Johan Engstrom put in a stellar display to stun an out-of-sorts Joe Cullen, averaging 99 to complete a 6-1 demolition and move through to a showdown against Michael van Gerwen.

Christian Perez became the first player from the Philippines to win on the European Tour stage, landing four 180s and pinning 60% of his attempts at double to defeat Niels Zonneveld 6-4.

Perez’ reward is a meeting with two-time World Champion Gary Anderson, while Brendan Dolan will renew his rivalry with Gerwyn Price after extending Andrew Gilding’s winless run on the European Tour.

Scott Williams converted 124 and 145 finishes on his way to a comprehensive 6-1 win against Niko Springer, as Luke Woodhouse also produced a brace of ton-topping finishes to thwart Martin Lukeman.

Keane Barry fended off a late rally from Stephen Burton to end his losing run in PDC ranking events, after Jeffrey Sparidaans thrashed a struggling Callan Rydz 6-1 in Friday’s opener, to clinch his first win on the European Tour stage.

The NEO.bet European Darts Grand Prix continues on Saturday, as the second round takes place across two sessions at the Glaspalast.

The latest showdown between Humphries and Littler will take centre stage, with defending champion Cross and two-time winner Van Gerwen also amongst the star attractions.

The tournament is being broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers’ websites worldwide.

2024 NEO.bet European Darts Grand Prix

Friday April 19
First Round
Afternoon Session
Jeffrey Sparidaans 6-1 Callan Rydz
Keane Barry 6-5 Stephen Burton
Scott Williams 6-1 Niko Springer
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Andrew Gilding
Luke Woodhouse 6-4 Martin Lukeman
Johan Engstrom 6-1 Joe Cullen
Christian Perez 6-4 Niels Zonneveld
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Jose de Sousa

Evening Session
Ritchie Edhouse 6-2 James Wade
Stephen Bunting 6-1 Romeo Grbavac
Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Franz Roetzsch
Chris Dobey 6-1 Ian White
Luke Littler 6-0 Arno Merk
Martin Schindler 6-2 Gian van Veen
Mickey Mansell 6-5 Peter Wright
Gabriel Clemens 6-1 Rene Eidams

Saturday April 20
Second Round
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Krzysztof Ratajski v Scott Williams
Ross Smith v Luke Woodhouse
Ryan Searle v Stephen Bunting
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ritchie Edhouse
Danny Noppert v Daryl Gurney
Jonny Clayton v Chris Dobey
Dave Chisnall v Keane Barry
Josh Rock v Jeffrey Sparidaans

Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Gary Anderson v Christian Perez
Gerwyn Price v Brendan Dolan
Michael Smith v Raymond van Barneveld
Damon Heta v Mickey Mansell
Rob Cross v Martin Schindler
Michael van Gerwen v Johan Engstrom
Luke Humphries v Luke Littler
Ricardo Pietreczko v Gabriel Clemens


Images: Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe

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