Live Darts on Friday May 25: German Darts Masters 2018 preview and order of play

Home hero Hopp takes on MVG (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The 2018 World Series gets off to an explosive start on Friday with a record crowd set to watch the German Darts Masters unfold in Gelsenkirchen.

The first of six World Series events on the calendar sees eight PDC invites and eight German qualifiers battling it out in front of an expected crowd of around 20,000 at the Veltins-Arena, home of Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04.

The unique one-day spectacular will see the stadium transformed into a "Darts Music Arena" with live music taking place on a second stage in between sessions.

The opening round sees the eight PDC heavyweights each take on a German qualifier, with the stand-out tie featuring a clash between Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen and Germany's top-ranked player - Max Hopp.

Van Gerwen has helped himself to twelve PDC titles already this season, including three European Tour triumphs on German soil, and starts out as odds-on favourite to add to his tally.

The world number one withdrew from last year's event due to injury and will be keen to make up for lost time and open his World Series account for 2018.

His first test is undoubtedly the toughest possible on paper against a player still riding high after claiming his first ranking title at the German Open last month.

Hopp's breakthrough triumph signalled a landmark moment in German darts history, but a first win for the 21-year-old over MVG at the fifth time of asking would be arguably an even more significant moment.

The first session plays host to an intriguing clash between UK Open champion Gary Anderson and Gabriel Clemens - the man he beat in the final of Players Championship 11 last Saturday.

Anderson suffered defeat to Michael Smith in the Semi-Finals of the Premier League last Thursday but has fared well in World Series events in recent years, winning the Auckland Masters, Dubai Masters (twice), Japan Masters and Perth Masters.

Since winning his Tour Card on the final day of European Qualifying School in January, Clemens has made a fine impact on the PDC circuit, climbing to 76 in the Order of Merit and reaching a Quarter-Final and Semi-Final to add to last weekend's runner-up spot.

Peter Wright, who thrashed Phil Taylor in last year's final to claim this trophy, begins his title defence against Dragutin Horvat in a repeat of last year's contest which saw 'Snakebite' edge through in a deciding leg.

Austrian ace Mensur Suljovic is likely to have his fair share of support across the border as he steps up to face Robert Marijanovic.

Suljovic bowed out of the Premier League on Judgement Night and has endured a relatively quiet season so far, with his best performance coming in the very first event of the campaign - the Unibet Masters - back in January, where he reached the Semi-Finals.

Marijanovic, world ranked 107, has competed in numerous ranking tournaments this year but is yet to progress beyond the Last 32 stage.

Jamie Lewis, one of three players making his World Series debut, has been drawn to face fellow youngster Nico Kurz - who featured on the Development Tour last year.

World Champion Rob Cross marks his World Series debut with a show-down against Stefan Stoyke as 'Voltage' bids to bounce back from his Semi-Final exit in the Premier League.

Dimitri van den Bergh, the reigning World Youth Champion, faces a tricky opener against German number two Martin Schindler - who will line up alongside Hopp in Germany's PDC World Cup side next week.

Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld kicks off the action with a clash against Manfred Bilderl - the number two ranked German superleague player.

The action gets underway from 2pm BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs and Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and the final best of 15 legs.

German Darts Masters 2018 Schedule

All times BST (Local time one hour ahead)

Friday May 25

First Round

Raymond van Barneveld v Manfred Bilderl
Jamie Lewis v Nico Kurz
Mensur Suljovic v Robert Marijanovic
Gary Anderson v Gabriel Clemens

Dimitri Van den Bergh v Martin Schindler
Michael van Gerwen v Max Hopp
Peter Wright v Dragutin Horvat
Rob Cross v Stefan Stoyke


Anderson/Clemens v Lewis/Kurz
Van Gerwen/Hopp v Van den Bergh/Schindler
Wright/Horvat v Van Barneveld/Bilderl
Cross/Stoyke v Suljovic/Marijanovic



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Live Darts on Friday May 25: German Darts Masters 2018 preview and order of play

The 2018 World Series gets off to an explosive start on Friday with a record crowd set to watch the German Darts Masters unfold in Gelsenkirchen.

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