THE 2019 Unibet Premier League continues with Night Seven in Berlin on Thursday, as Max Hopp becomes the first German player to star in the competition at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Hopp will be the seventh Contender to make their Premier League debut in this year's tournament as he takes on Raymond van Barneveld, who is seeking a first victory of the campaign.
German number one Hopp enjoyed his best PDC campaign in 2018, becoming the first German player to win a European Tour event while also reaching the semi-finals of the European Championship, and Hopp believes Thursday could be the catalyst for further success.
"I am so excited to be playing in front of my home crowd, on home soil, against the legendary Raymond van Barneveld," said 22-year-old Hopp.
"Raymond has always been my childhood idol. When I started out, the first set of darts I bought were Raymond’s so it will be a dream come true to play him in front of a home crowd.
"It's a really important game for Barney because if he loses, he could be in real trouble so there will be mixed feelings from me if I win.
"But I also want to go further in my career and this night is special for me; it is a great platform and a Premier League experience for the first time. It is a huge night for me and I need to think of my personal goals - I want to perform very well."
Van Barneveld enjoyed a return to form by reaching his first ProTour final since 2015 last Sunday, but the former Premier League champion is rooted to the foot of the table following a difficult opening six nights of action.
The departing Dutchman will be desperate for a win to increase his chances of survival ahead of Judgement Night in Rotterdam next Thursday.
"Of course Sunday's good performances give me extra belief that anything is possible," said Van Barneveld.
"I have to keep fighting to try and save my season but I know it will be difficult against Max because he is a top player and the crowd will be right behind him."
Michael van Gerwen returned to the top of the league with victory over Gerwyn Price in Nottingham on Night Six, and he will face Daryl Gurney, who is Van Barneveld's nearest target in eighth place.
Gerwyn Price suffered his first defeat of the campaign last Thursday, and he will be looking to bounce back against last year's semi-finalist Rob Cross, who is tied on points with Van Gerwen at the table's summit.
Third-placed James Wade will face fourth-placed Peter Wright, while 2018 Premier League finalist Michael Smith will take on Mensur Suljovic as both players look to drag themselves away from the relegation picture.
The top four players at the end of 16 nights will face off in the Play-Offs at The O2 on May 23, while the ninth-placed player following Judgement Night in Rotterdam will face an early elimination.
Night Seven of the Unibet Premier League in Berlin will be shown live on Sky Sports, worldwide through the PDC's broadcast partners, and through PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers.
Night Seven - Thursday March 21
Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin
Gerwyn Price v Rob Cross
James Wade v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith v Mensur Suljovic
Max Hopp v Raymond van Barneveld
Tickets: 030 20 60 70 88 99 (Ger) or click here
Unibet Premier League – Night Seven Match Odds
8/5 Gerwyn Price - 33/10 Draw - Rob Cross 6/5
8/5 James Wade - 16/5 Draw - Peter Wright 5/4
1/4 Michael van Gerwen - 11/2 Draw - Daryl Gurney 15/2
23/20 Michael Smith - 3/1 Draw - Mensur Suljovic 9/5
29/20 Max Hopp - 3/1 Draw - Raymond van Barneveld 11/8
Unibet Premier League Darts 2019 - To Win Outright
Michael Van Gerwen - 1/2
Rob Cross - 7/1
Michael Smith - 12/1
Gerwyn Price - 14/1
James Wade - 14/1
Peter Wright - 14/1
Mensur Suljovic - 20/1
Daryl Gurney - 28/1
Raymond van Barneveld - 250/1
Odds via www.unibet.co.uk and correct at time of writing. Subject to fluctuation.