MAX HOPP is relishing the prospect of facing his 'childhood idol' Raymond van Barneveld as he becomes the first German player to play in the Unibet Premier League at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin on Thursday.
German number one Hopp has been a leading figure in the sport's growth in Germany since making his European Tour debut as a 16-year-old in 2012, and he is set to be roared on by thousands of passionate German fans in the final game of the evening.
The seventh Premier League Contender to star in this year's competition, Hopp spoke to The Darts Show Podcast ahead of one of the biggest nights of his career.
"I am so excited to be playing in front of my home crowd, on home soil, against the legendary Raymond van Barneveld," said 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."
Thursday will see the Premier League roadshow return to Berlin for a second year following 2018's successful debut.
Hopp enjoyed success on home soil in 2018 by winning a European Tour event and reaching the semi-finals of the European Championship in Dortmund, and the 22-year-old is hoping Thursday can be the catalyst for further success.
"I think Berlin has huge power, it will be a huge crowd and they will all be up for the night," Hopp added.
"I don’t think anything will beat John Henderson's reception in Aberdeen - that was a special entrance. I’m not sure Berlin will top that, but I hope they come close.
"Of course I will have nerves and that will play a part, but I believe I have shown over the last year that I can control my emotions on stage very well.
"I can play aggressively or I can play calmly, I have two playing types.
"I’m very aware that every contender has done well so far, and I want to be another one who impresses everybody, so it is a special game. I’m sure when I get on stage the adrenaline will carry me through."
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