The exit of Michael van Gerwen from the European Championship on Friday evening at the hands of Steve West has blown the competition wide open in Dortmund, Germany as the last four prepare to face off this evening. West, who also memorably knocked Phil Taylor out of the World Grand Prix in 2016, showcased an incredible display of nerve as he managed to keep with van Gerwen throughout the entirety of Friday’s encounter. After storming out of the blocks in the first session, leading 4-1, before being pipped back to 5-5 by the world number one, he managed to maintain a high level as ‘Mighty Mike’ was unable to hold off the 43-year-old. West later extended his lead to 8-5 before MVG narrowed the gap to just a leg. West then won the next two legs to complete the giant killing and send shockwaves through the competition. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for West today as he lost 10-7 to Simon Whitlock despite averaging 102 and hitting 9 180s but the world number 26 will not be too disappointed with his four days in Germany.
The second person to secure his place in today’s semi finals after Whitlock was Joe Cullen, who defeated world champion Rob Cross 10-8. Despite being 6-1 behind, Cullen won 9 of the next 11 legs to reach his first TV semi-final. Cullen will play Australian Simon Whitlock this evening. Also victorious was German Max Hopp, who stormed to victory in front of his home crowd against Darren Webster. Hopp, who hit 164, 126 and 124 outs en route to victory, has had the support of the partisan German crowd over this weekend but really impressed this afternoon as he vies for his first major title just months after he won the German Darts Open, his first professional title away from the floor. With avid supporters out in numbers again this evening and even more vociferous than in the three previous rounds, Hopp will be keen to thrive under the pressure of his expectant crowd and has certainly proven his capability to win a major this afternoon.
Hopp will face eight-times former major champion James Wade. Wade has impressed in Germany this week, defeating Martin Schindler, Ricky Evans and Gerwyn Price en route to the semi-finals. In the latter, he edged out an unlucky Price in a tight encounter, averaging 96. With Wade one of only two remaining in the field who has lifted a major title, many will fancy him to be crowned European champion this evening but will need to be focused as he faces not only Hopp but the German crowd in the second semi-final.
After a fantastic four days in Dortmund, which has seen four of the top 8 seeds toppled, we are set for a brilliant culmination this evening with either a new or return major winner to be crowned. Thanks for reading and catch you later!
Image Credits: Sporting Life and Tom Beresford