The 2022 Viaplay Nordic Darts Masters begins in Copenhagen on Friday, as Michael van Gerwen kicks off his title defence against Finland’s Marko Kantele.
The second staging of the Scandinavian showpiece will see 16 players vying for glory at Forum Copenhagen from June 10-11, in the second World Series event of the year.
Friday’s opening round pits the eight PDC stars against the Nordic & Baltic representatives, in the first of three sessions over the weekend.
Top seed Michael Smith headlines Friday’s action, fresh from defeating Van Gerwen to clinch US Darts Masters glory in New York last weekend.
Smith also saw off Doug Boehm, Gary Anderson and Peter Wright to prevail at Madison Square Garden, capping off a prolific period for the St Helens star.
Denmark’s Vladimir Andersen, who claimed a PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School in January, plays Smith in round one, as the world number four opens his quest for back-to-back World Series crowns.
“Over the last three weeks I have won five events out of six – it’s getting there. I’m playing well and picking up titles,” said Smith.
“It’s unreal the way everything has swung in my favour. Since I won the last night of the Premier League, my confidence has grown and grown.
“I have had to get over heartbreak for the last three years, losing so many finals.
“Now that I’m making finals each week and winning them – and the way I’m winning them – is massive for my confidence and self-belief.”
Smith could meet Grand Slam quarter-finalist Fallon Sherrock in the last eight, a runner-up in last year’s inaugural staging.
Sherrock was beaten by Van Gerwen in a thrilling final 12 months ago, after producing a remarkable comeback from 8-2 down to stun Dimitri Van den Bergh in the semi-finals.
The 27-year-old is hoping those positive memories can inspire another dream run in Copenhagen, although she faces a tough test against former World Championship quarter-finalist Darius Labanauskas in round one.
"It's fantastic to travel around the world playing darts, see new places, play on different stages. I never thought this would have happened a few years ago," said Sherrock.
"I don't want to look too far ahead. Darius is a difficult opponent so I'm only focusing on that.
"I just want to get through my first game and see how it goes. That's what I did last year and I managed to get through to the final."
Gerwyn Price and Van den Bergh take on Danish duo Brian Løkken and Benjamin Drue Reus respectively, with Van den Bergh preparing to make his first World Series appearance of 2022.
The former World Matchplay champion was a runner-up at last year’s World Series Finals in Amsterdam, and he insists it’s a huge honour to be involved in growing the game globally.
“The fact that I even got two invitations for the World Series this year is something that I never take for granted,” the Belgian admitted.
“I am going to give it my very best, and I’m very excited to get up on that stage and be part of it.
“I’m someone who wants to be successful and follow his dreams, so the fact that I can play darts in all these different countries is incredible, and I’m enjoying the experience in every tournament.”
Van Gerwen’s bid for a sixth PDC title of the season begins with a showdown against Finnish veteran Kantele, who will make his eighth consecutive Cazoo World Cup of Darts appearance next week.
Awaiting the winner of Van Gerwen and Kantele’s clash in the quarter-finals will be either ten-time TV title winner James Wade or Latvia’s Madars Razma, a runner-up on the Pro Tour in March.
Elsewhere, World Champion Wright plays Iceland's Matthías Örn Fridriksson, a former semi-professional footballer, while Gary Anderson meets Swedish World Cup captain Daniel Larsson.
Saturday’s second day of action will see the quarter-finals take place in the afternoon session, followed by a blockbuster evening session featuring both the semi-finals and final.
The tournament will be broadcast through the PDC’s international broadcast partners, including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.
ITV coverage in the UK will be from 1030 BST on ITV4 on Saturday June 11, with live coverage on ITV3 from 1900 BST on Saturday for the final stages.
Schedule of Play
Friday June 10 (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Benjamin Drue Reus
Gary Anderson v Daniel Larsson
James Wade v Madars Razma
Fallon Sherrock v Darius Labanauskas
Gerwyn Price v Brian Løkken
Michael Smith v Vladimir Andersen
Peter Wright v Matthías Örn Fridriksson
Michael van Gerwen v Marko Kantele
Saturday June 11
Afternoon Session (1300 local time)
Price/Løkken v Van den Bergh/Reus
Smith/Andersen v Sherrock/Labanauskas
Van Gerwen/Kantele v Wade/Razma
Wright/Fridriksson v Anderson/Larsson
Evening Session (2000 local time)
Semi-Finals & Final