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2016 European Darts Trophy – Four players in need of a good weekend

2016 European Darts Trophy

Four players in need of a good weekend

By James Nolan

As another week passes in the darting world, we edge ever so closer to the business end of the season.

Following on from last weekend’s International Darts Open, which was arguably the most wide open darts tournament of 2016 due to the absence of a number of high profile stars, this week we are being presented with the brace of a hat-trick of Euro Tour events in September.

While last week was a major opportunity for players to earn a considerable amount of prize money and make dashes in the qualification races for various events, the European Darts Trophy will play host to the return of a number of franchise players, namely Michael van Gerwen and James Wade.

However, while the field will be notably more laborious for players this week, there is still a job needed to be completed. The following four players are most in need of a good shift in Germany this weekend for various reasons.

1. Justin Pipe

Of the 48 players in the field, ‘The Force’, Justin Pipe is perhaps in the most urgent need of a good run at the European Darts Trophy.

The methodical thrower will head into the weekend with two objectives in mind, returning to contention for one of the pro tour spots for next month’s World Grand Prix after being removed at the hands of James Wilson last week, and consolidating his qualification for the European Championship.

Failure to qualify for one, or both, would be detrimental to Pipe’s already slowly declining ranking, and taking his exceptionally ordinary showings on the European Tour this season into consideration, there is not much optimism lingering in the air to suggest that this weekend will be a contrast.

It has been emphasised for the last 18 months that Pipe needs to recapture his form of two years ago, which saw him reach as high as world number nine on the official PDC order of merit. Time is quickly running out for the Englishman, who needs to swiftly acquire some much needed form, or face missing out on major tv events becoming a regular occurrence.

2. Vincent van der Voort

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In a similar light to Pipe, the quick fire Dutchman, Vincent van der Voort will be heading to Mulheim hoping to put himself back in the frame when it comes to securing a pro tour qualification spot at the World Grand Prix.

Also, with three events remaining, the ‘Dutch Destroyer’, who sits on 4000 pounds in prize money on the European Tour order of merit, still has an outside opportunity of securing qualification for the European Championship.

However, for his high standards, van der Voort’s performances throughout the year have ranged from ordinary to lack luster. A prime example being at the World Matchplay in July where the rapid thrower’s struggles were made clear as he stumbled to a 10-4 defeat to Kyle Anderson.

A number of early exits and minimum prize money earnings in tournaments has culminated in the Dutchman losing his place amongst the world’s top 16 players. With a number of in from players advancing up the rankings, anything other than an upturn in form could see Vincent slide further.

3. Andy Smith

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The ‘Pieman’ has been plying his trade on the PDC circuit for 12 years now. But, as they say, all good things must come to an unfortunate end.

A dismal two years has seen the self-proclaimed happiest player in the world fall outside the world’s top 32, fail to qualify for the World Championship for the first time since 2005 and earn a miniscule amount of prize money.

Now, with only four months of 2016 remaining, Smith finds his tour card under severe threat as more prize money defenses approach with the ‘Pieman’ being unqualified to protect his earnings of 24 months ago.

With Mulheim being the first European stage Smith will grace his presence with this season, it is crucial that Smith takes home a decent pay cheque at the end of the week.

However, while needing to find form fast, a much in tune Robbie Green is the not the type of opponent you want to be facing in the first round.

4. Keegan Brown

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Being a former World Youth Champion, it is understandable that a weight of expectation has been firmly placed on the shoulders on the 24 year old.

However, after bursting onto our tv screens with a number of world class performances, a below par conclusion to 2015, which included first hurdle exits at the World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts and World Championship, has somewhat brought his rapid development to a grinding halt.

2016 hasn’t been kind to ‘The Needle’. Having only earned 5250 pounds on the pro tour this year, Brown is in danger of failing to qualify for World Championship. If this possibility were to become a reality, it would be a disaster given the untapped potential Brown possesses.

On the European Tour itself, this weekend will be Brown’s maiden appearance on the continent this season, and barring a tournament win, it is almost dead certain that Brown won’t qualify for the European Championship.

A run to the last 16 or quarter finals this weekend will lay the foundations for a return to form and a regaining of confidence for the Isle of Wight based medical lab assistant.

Which players do you believe need a good run at the European Darts Trophy this weekend? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter.

*Players Championship and European Tour figures courtesy of PDC.TV. World Championship and World Grand Prix qualification stats courtesy of Burton De Witt.