MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his bid to win a fifth straight Unibet European Championship title against Paul Nicholson, after the field and draw for the 32-player event was confirmed.

This year's European Championship will be held from October 25-28 as the tournament returns to Germany, with Dortmund's Westfalenhalle hosting the world's top stars.

With the leading 32 players from the European Tour Order of Merit qualifying for the European Championship, the European Darts Trophy saw a tense conclusion to the battle to claim Dortmund spots.

Runs to the quarter-finals for Jelle Klaasen and semi-finals for Richard North were enough to see them move into the top 32, at the expense of Andy Boulton and Darius Labanauskas.

Kyle Anderson, Cristo Reyes and Paul Nicholson - who did not qualify to compete in the European Darts Trophy - all faced a nervous wait over the weekend before their qualification was confirmed.

Reigning European Champion Van Gerwen, who has won the past four titles in a brilliant unbeaten run since 2014, will be the top seed as he bids to scoop the £100,000 top prize once again.

The Dutchman claimed an amazing eighth European Tour title of 2018 on Sunday night, meaning that he took home £207,000 across the 13 tournaments this year.

Van Gerwen's first round opponent in Dortmund will be Nicholson, the former Players Championship Finals winner who has qualified for his first European Championship since 2013.

Mensur Suljovic (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Number two seed Mensur Suljovic, the Danish Darts Open winner and the 2016 European Championship finalist, will play Spanish ace Reyes.

Germany's Max Hopp, who claimed his maiden European Tour win this year, will take on Ireland's William O'Connor, while Austrian Darts Open champion Jonny Clayton meets James Wilson.

Gerwyn Price (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Gerwyn Price, another maiden winner on the European Tour in 2018, plays 2017 European Championship semi-finalist Anderson, while Dutch Darts Championship winner Ian White meets debutant North.

James Wade, who lost in a second European Tour final of the year on Sunday, plays emerging German Martin Schindler, and Joe Cullen takes on Klaasen.

Premier League finalist Michael Smith takes on emerging Irish ace Steve Lennon, while world number two Peter Wright plays quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena.

World Champion Rob Cross - last year's beaten finalist - will face a first round tie with European Championship debutant Danny Noppert, while a tasty encounter will see Adrian Lewis meet Dave Chisnall.

Daryl Gurney (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

World number five Daryl Gurney meets Ricky Evans, Darren Webster plays Stephen Bunting, while Steve West takes on Mervyn King.

Van Gerwen is Unibet's 8/11 pre-tournament favourite to take the title ahead of 15/2 second favourite Suljovic, who lines up in the opposite half of the draw.

World number two Wright is the 9/1 third favourite, with Cross, last year's European Championship finalist, an 11/1 chance to go all the way this time around.

Shanghai Darts Masters winner Smith is 18/1, with Gurney (25/1) and Wade (28/1) also amongst the leading contenders in Unibet's odds.

Tournament favourite Van Gerwen has been enhanced to Even Money with Unibet for bets of £25 or above - having justified his odds-on status at the recent Unibet World Grand Prix with another title triumph.

The Unibet European Championship will be held from October 25-28 at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, and screened live on ITV4 and through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners.

For tickets, please visit the PDC Europe website.

2018 Unibet European Championship
Draw Bracket

(1) Michael van Gerwen v (32) Paul Nicholson
(16) Steve West v (17) Mervyn King
(8) Simon Whitlock v (25) Steve Beaton
(9) Peter Wright v (24) Jermaine Wattimena
(5) Joe Cullen v (28) Jelle Klaasen
(12) Michael Smith v (21) Steve Lennon
(4) Ian White v (29) Richard North
(13) Rob Cross v (20) Danny Noppert
(2) Mensur Suljovic v (31) Cristo Reyes
(15) Darren Webster v (18) Stephen Bunting
(7) Max Hopp v (26) William O'Connor
(10) Jonny Clayton v (23) James Wilson
(6) James Wade v (27) Martin Schindler
(11) Daryl Gurney v (22) Ricky Evans
(3) Gerwyn Price v (30) Kyle Anderson
(14) Adrian Lewis v (19) Dave Chisnall

The schedule of play will be confirmed in due course.

Session Schedule:
Thursday October 25 (8pm local time, 7pm UK time)

First Round x8

Friday October 26
Afternoon Session (1.45pm local time, 12.45pm UK time)

First Round x8

Evening Session (8pm local time, 7pm UK time)
Second Round x4

Saturday October 28 (8pm local time, 7pm UK time)
Second Round x4

Sunday October 29
Afternoon Session (1.45pm local time, 12.45pm UK time)


Evening Session (8pm local time, 7pm UK time)

First Round - Best of 11 legs
Second Round - Best of 19 legs
Quarter-Finals - Best of 19 legs
Semi-Finals - Best of 21 legs
Final - Best of 21 legs

Prize Fund
Winner £100,000
Runner-Up £40,000
Semi-Finalists £20,000
Quarter-Finalists £15,000
Second Round Losers £10,000
First Round Losers £5,000
Total £400,000
Nine-Darter Bonus £15,000