Christopher Kempf, the statistical analyst of the PDC, ranks the Unibet European Championship field based on their European Tour statistics.

For the first time, all 32 players in the European Championship are seeded.

Unlike 2017, in which the 32nd-highest ranked player on the Order of Merit would be drawn at random to face an unknown opponent, this year he has the honour of facing Michael van Gerwen - no draw necessary.

Despite this, the 1-32 ranking of players only considers how much money they have won in the 13 European Tour events of 2018, and not whether they are the n-th strongest player in the tournament.

When we investigate the European Tour rankings relative to demonstrated statistical form, we see that not all first round matches are created equal.

European Tour stats (PDC)

Taking into consideration all darts thrown between March and October on the European Tour, this graph plots out players' accuracy (percentage of darts hitting targets compared to total darts attempted at those targets) on the most important scoring trebles (17, 18, 19, 20) and all checkout attempts at doubles on a two-dimensional grid.  

The red line indicates points of equal treble and double percentages, one of which is nearly occupied by Steve Lennon, who has hit 36% of both his doubles and trebles.

Players above and to the left of this line are more proficient in scoring than they are in finishing; below and to the right of this line are located the players most adept at finishing relative to scoring. 

Consider the first-round match-up between the 28-time European Tour champion Van Gerwen and 32-seed Paul Nicholson.

While there is an enormous gap between the two in scoring proficiency, with Van Gerwen hitting 11 more trebles, on average, than Nicholson for every 100 darts thrown, the format of the first round makes what would otherwise be a crippling deficit for 'The Asset' into an opportunity to overthrow the four-time reigning European Champion.

The two will be meeting in a match played to best-of 11 legs, meaning that Nicholson may only need to break the Van Gerwen throw once to win the match.

Paul Nicholson (PDC)

And since Nicholson's 41.4% accuracy on checkout doubles is the fifth highest among the 32-player field, and only slightly behind Van Gerwen's 42.6%, he is well-positioned to hold his throw against the world number one despite hitting fewer treble 20s than his opponent.

While Van Gerwen may be hitting nearly 50% of his trebles over a 350-leg period, there's no guarantee he will do so in any one leg.

Anything can happen in a short-format match, and even the best player in the world cannot guarantee that his superior overall statistics will reveal themselves in the right moments.

Another intriguing matchup in Dortmund pits the local favourite, reigning German Open champion Max Hopp, against European Matchplay finalist William O'Connor.

Max Hopp (PDC)

The German setting of this tournament, which will provide Hopp with vocal support throughout the match, and being seeded 26th make this a tough prospect for the Irishman.

But a look at the treble-double comparison graphic shows that perhaps Hopp ought to be considered less likely to advance to the second round.

Despite his stunning achievement in the German Open, in which he won six matches in three days to seize a first European Tour title for Germany, his treble and double percentages have been underwhelming.

In scoring, Hopp ranks 29th out of 32, with only 1,204 trebles hit with 3,313 darts - in percentage terms (36.3%), that is ahead of only Nicholson, Lennon and Jermaine Wattimena, and a full percentage point behind O'Connor.

He is even further behind the Irish 'Magpie' when it comes to finishing. Hopp will miss one more dart at double than O'Connor, on average, for every 15 darts thrown.

If O'Connor wins the throw for the bull, Hopp may find it difficult to accumulate enough breaks of throw to advance in spite of that statistical deficit. 

When the format changes to best-of-19 in the second round, statistical differences between players will become more apparent.

Simon Whitlock (PDC)

Despite the fact that Simon Whitlock and Steve Beaton have had more success on the 2018 European Tour and are far more accurate on their targets than Wattimena, the Dutchman may be more likely to knock Peter Wright out of the tournament simply due to the fact that he only needs to win six legs to advance, while Wright's opponents must contend with his European Tour-leading 43.5% accuracy on doubles over the span of 10-19 legs.

Dave Chisnall, a relentless power-scorer who has struggled to reinforce that proficiency with high double accuracy, would likely find a second-round match-up with number three seed Gerwyn Price less challenging than a race to six legs with 14th seed Adrian Lewis, as the two occupy relatively similar positions on the treble-double spectrum despite the huge difference in seed.

If the most accurate players - Van Gerwen, Wright, Cross, White - are to beaten before their superior statistics steamroll the competition in the longer-format matches, it will surely fall to their first-round opponents to do the job.