Van Gerwen and Wade set up Salzburg showdown

Former champions Michael van Gerwen and James Wade will meet in the second round of the European Championships in Salzburg on Saturday after both recorded victories on Friday night (Van Gerwen 4/11, Wade 21/10 – Match Betting).

Van Gerwen, who is a four-time winner of the event, is still seeking a first title of 2021, but he appeared to be back to his best as he averaged over 100 to overcome Croatia’s Boris Krcmar 6-2.

It has been a tough period for MVG, who suffered a shock first round exit at last week’s World Grand Prix, but the 32-year-old believes the format of the European Championships suits his game and he expects to improve further as the tournament progresses.

“In the beginning I think I played really well,” Van Gerwen reflected. “I think I controlled the game and my focus was there, my confidence was there and that made me win this game.

“That’s one done and now it’s on to the next one. The format suits my game, from here on I think I can do some more damage. I feel comfortable, my game is starting to get somewhere and I hope I can continue the good form.

“I’m playing James Wade tomorrow. I think I can show some more, my feeling is really nice and we’ll see what is going to happen.”

Wade’s passage through to round two was not so smooth, as the 2018 champion needed a final-leg decider to get the better of fellow Englishman Adam Smith-Neale.

Word number one Gerwyn Price also booked his place in the second round, averaging 104.53 as he comfortably dispatched of Ritchie Edhouse 6-2, with ‘The Iceman’ now set to face Adam Gawlas in the last 16 (Price 1/7, Gawlas 9/2 – Match Betting).

In-form duo Ryan Searle and Danny Noppert will also meet in the second round after they overcame Michael Smith and Krzysztof Ratajski respectively (Searle 5/6, Noppert 20/21 – Match Betting), while Australian Damon Heta dispatched of Gabriel Clemens 6-3.

Heta will face Nathan Aspinall in round two after the fifth seed edged through 6-4 against the experienced Mervyn King in another of Friday’s first round contests (Aspinall 8/11, Heta 11/10 – Match Betting).

All eight second round ties will be played to a conclusion on Saturday, culminating with home favourite and second seed Mensur Suljovic taking on Germany’s Florian Hempel, who got the better of defending champion Peter Wright in round one (Suljovic 4/9, Hempel 7/4 – Match Betting).

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