With only two Euro Tour events this year, a number of big names have failed to qualify for the European Championship in Austria this weekend and Abigail Davies expects debutants to shine...
"Nineteen-year-old Williams is one of 14 debutants in this year’s event and I think he has an excellent chance of progressing into the second round."
Ian White, Daryl Gurney, Stephen Bunting and Dave Chisnall are among those who won't be in action in Salzburg.
Neither will the newly crowned Grand Prix champion, Jonny Clayton. Arguably the best player in the world at the moment, he produced a stunning performance to beat his World Cup partner Gerwyn Price in the final of the double-in tournament, but will have to wait a while longer to make his fifth appearance in the European Championship after failing to qualify for this year's event.
Gerwyn Price won 100% of his games on the Euro Tour this year and is 10/3 favourite to lift the title this weekend whilst reigning champion Peter Wright is 9/2 before a dart has been thrown.
Prince of Wales relishes big stage pressure
Even without the Ferret, there are still two Welsh representatives this weekend as the exciting young talent Lewy Williams has qualified along with number one seed Price.
Nineteen-year-old Williams is one of 14 debutants in this year's event and I think he has an excellent chance of progressing into the second round.
He's a big stage player, has an air of confidence that doesn't boil over into arrogance and has previously told me that even in Pro Tour events he thrives in high pressure situations and as a result, produces his best when the pressure is on.
His opponent in the opening round is the Portuguese delight, Jose de Sousa.
We know that on his day The Special One can beat anybody but aside from glimpses against Clayton at the Grand Prix, de Sousa hasn't been at the top of his game for a little while now and I think The Prince of Wales, who has won both of their previous meetings, will come out on top again on Thursday evening.
Snakebite starts title defence
Peter Wright begins his defence of this title against Florian Hempel. The only other meeting between Snakebite and the German came just over a month ago in Hungary and despite having a lower average, Wright came out on top. I'm backing the reigning champion to come through this one with a handicap of -2.5 at 4/5.
Confident Aspinall to impress
Mervyn King is the only player to have appeared in every European Championship since the tournament began.
The King will face Nathan Aspinall as he begins his quest to reach the final of the event for the first time in 14 attempts. He's not made it past the first round since 2016 but has won two of his three meetings with The Asp.
Prior to the Gibraltar Darts Trophy last month, Aspinall had been playing well but not getting the results to match his performances. I'm confident he'll kick on from his run to the semi-final of the second Euro Tour event of the year and fancy him to have a deep run this weekend. I'm backing him to come through his quarter of the draw at 4/1.
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