THE 2019 German Darts Masters begins on Friday, with eight top PDC stars facing eight German representatives in the first round.

Ahead of the PDC World Series of Darts event in Cologne, we bring you the lowdown on the German aces competing at the Lanxess Arena...

Max Hopp
Nickname: The Maximiser
Date of Birth: August 20 1996
Home Town: Werda, Germany
PDC Ranking: 25

* German number one. First emerged as a teenager in 2012 to qualify for 2013 World Championship.
* Has now competed six times in the World Championship
* 2015 World Youth Champion – beat Nathan Aspinall in the final.
* Broke into PDC’s top 32 in 2018 – won German Darts Open on European Tour and a Players Championship event, and reached European Championship semi-finals (lost 11-10 to James Wade)
* Three-time World Cup quarter-finalist for Germany, in 2015, 2017 & 2018.

Martin Schindler
Nickname: The Wall
Date of Birth: August 16 1996
Home Town: Strausberg, Germany
PDC Ranking: 53

* Won PDC Tour Card in 2017.
* Has played in 2018 and 2019 World Championships, twice in the European Championship and UK Open.
* Two-time World Cup quarter-finalist for Germany, in 2017 & 2018.
* Winner of three Development Tour events in 2017 & 2018.
* Initially began competing on Development Tour and in European Tour qualifiers from 2014 onwards. Also worked as a steward for PDC Europe at European Tour events.

Gabriel Clemens
Nickname: German Giant
Date of Birth: August 16 1983
Home Town: Saarwellingen, Germany
PDC Ranking: 56

* Won a PDC Tour Card in 2018. Has since reached three Players Championship finals, including two this year.
* Qualifier for 2019 World Championship, defeated Aden Kirk then lost 3-2 to John Henderson.
* Played in 2018 & 2019 UK Opens, and 2018 Players Championship Finals.
* 2017 World Masters semi-finalist, losing to Mark McGeeney. Defeated Jamie Hughes in last 32
* First competed in PDC events in Germany in 2007 but made first European Tour appearance in 2016.

Nico Kurz
Nickname: -
Date of Birth: January 31 1997
Home Town: Hessen, Germany
PDC Ranking: 162

* Only previous TV appearance was in 2018 German Darts Masters, losing 6-5 to Jamie Lewis.
* Played on PDC Development Tour in 2016.
* Has competed in European Tour qualifiers since 2017 and played one day at 2019 Qualifying School in Germany.
* Made European Tour debut in European Darts Open in March, losing 6-5 to Kim Huybrechts.

Kevin Munch
Nickname: The Dragon
Date of Birth: July 27 1988
Home Town: Buren, Germany
PDC Ranking: 146

* Played in 2017 German Darts Masters, losing 6-2 to James Wade.
* Competed in 2012 and 2018 World Championships, reaching last 32 on both occasions. Defeated Adrian Lewis in 2018 event.
* Has played at PDC Qualifying School in Europe for past two years without yet winning Tour Card.
* Has around 15 years competitive experience, including two German Gold Cup wins and a German National Championship win.
* Six-time World Masters qualifier.

Robert Marijanovic
Nickname: Robstar
Date of Birth: May 6 1980
Home Town: Freudenstadt, Germany
PDC Ranking: 75

* Playing in third successive German Darts Masters. Lost to Phil Taylor in 2017 and Mensur Suljovic in 2018.
* PDC Tour Card Holder in 2018-2019. Made six European Tour appearances in 2018.
* 2013 World Cup representative for Croatia with Tonci Restovic.
* Qualifier for 2013, 2015 and 2019 World Championships.

Christian Bunse
Date of Birth: January 6 1995
Home Town: Diemelsee, Germany
PDC Ranking: 120

* Won PDC Tour Card at 2019 Qualifying School.
* Has played in Development Tour events since 2017, reaching three finals in 2018.
* Has played in three European Tour events so far in his career
* Competed in 2019 UK Open, losing 6-4 in first round to Greece’s John Michael.

Maik Langendorf
Nickname: -
Date of Birth: March 11 1972
Home Town: Hameln, Germany
PDC Ranking: 162

* Has lots of TV experience, including two World Cups for Austria (2010 and 2013), 2013 UK Open, 2017 German Darts Masters and 2017 World Series of Darts Finals.
* Held PDC Tour Card in 2017-2018. Missed out on winning Tour Card back in 2019 Qualifying School. Made four European Tour appearances in 2018.
* Only stage appearance in 2019 was at German Darts Championship on European Tour, losing 6-3 to Mario Robbe.
* Wife Bianka competed in Women’s World Championship qualifier last year.