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PDC European Championship Darts: Michael van Gerwen survives scare as Ricardo Pietreczko strikes again

Michael van Gerwen survived a major scare to deny Madars Razma at the European Championship, as reigning champion Ross Smith crashed out; Next up on the Sky Sports Darts calendar is the Grand Slam of Darts from November 11-19 at the Aldersley Leisure Village

Michael van Gerwen: European Darts Championship 2023
Image: Michael van Gerwen survived a major scare to deny an inspired Madars Razma at the European Championship

Michael van Gerwen faced two match darts before reaching the second round of the European Championship in Dortmund, while German man-of-the-moment Ricardo Pietreczko knocked out defending champion Ross Smith.

Four-time European champion Van Gerwen led 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 before Razma turned the contest on its head, only for the Dutchman to survive a match dart in each of the last two legs to avoid a shock early exit in Dortmund.

Van Gerwen produced 148 and 108 checkouts to establish an early buffer but a spirited Razma maintained his relentless scoring, firing in a brace of 11-darters to restore parity at four apiece.

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The Latvian then conjured up a 112 outshot in leg nine to move to the brink of victory at 5-4, before missing tops for 80 and 142 finishes in a thrilling finale.

Van Gerwen capitalised on his reprieve, firing in a brilliant 12-dart break in the decider to move through to Saturday's second round, despite Razma averaging almost 105.

"I had to produce something special because Madars was absolutely phenomenal," conceded Van Gerwen, who averaged 97 and hit 75 per cent of his double attempts.

"You have to give Madars credit. I don't think anybody expected him to play this well, but I kept my nerve and that's the most important thing.

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"The longer format [in round two] will hopefully help me, but you still have to perform. Everyone is playing well, so you can't underestimate anyone. You have to be sharp from the beginning."

Ricardo Pietreczko: European Darts Championship 2023
Image: Ricardo Pietreczko won his maiden PDC title at the German Championship last week

Day Two of the £600,000 event saw the remaining first round ties take place on Friday, as debutant Pietreczko dumped out reigning champion Smith to the delight of his home crowd.

Pietreczko, a winner at the recent German Darts Championship, produced a stellar display to set up a last-16 date against Van Gerwen, averaging 104.28 to celebrate a 6-3 success.

The 29-year-old raced into a three-leg lead and refused to relent, as the reigning European champion saw his hopes of retaining the title ended.

Smith's defeat means that he became the fifth successive defending champion to lose in the first round of the tournament.

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2023 Machineseeker European Championship
Friday October 27
First Round x8

Gian van Veen 6-1 Damon Heta
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Joe Cullen
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Josh Rock
Jose De Sousa 6-4 Jonny Clayton
James Wade 6-3 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Luke Humphries 6-1 Brendan Dolan
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Madars Razma
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-3 Ross Smith

Saturday October 28
Second Round
Afternoon Session (1200-1600 BST)

Chris Dobey vs Stephen Bunting
Rob Cross vs Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price vs Nathan Aspinall
Michael Smith vs Peter Wright

Evening Session (1800-2200 BST)
Gian van Veen vs Daryl Gurney
James Wade vs Jose de Sousa
Luke Humphries vs Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael van Gerwen vs Ricardo Pietreczko
Best of 19 legs

Watch the seventeenth staging of the Grand Slam of Darts from 11-19 November at the Aldersley Leisure Village. Stream your favourite sports and more with NOW

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